Bricks and Mortals: Ten Great Buildings and the People They Made

Tom Wilkinson. Bloomsbury, $30 (352p) ISBN 978-1-62040-629-8
Wilkinson takes readers on a lively tour through the ages by studying 10 world-wide architectural wonders. From ancient Babylon’s Tower of Babel, to a mercantile palazzo in Renaissance Italy, to a footbridge in contemporary Rio, Wilkinson focuses on what makes each structure specific to its time and place. Broadly exploring how architecture “shapes people’s lives and vice versa,” he uses each selection as a springboard to discuss the themes evoked. Designer Eileen Gray’s villa on the French Riviera, built in the 1920s for her lover, leads to musings on buildings and sex, while Henry Ford’s car factory in early 20th century Detroit connects architecture with mass production, and Nero’s Golden House inspires a thought-provoking discussion on the morality of architecture (Can a structure built by a bad ruler be good?). Concluding that today’s biggest challenge is the fact that the 21st century urban world “squats in squalor,” he urges political change, with architecture that benefits people, rather than “the developers, speculators, and corrupt bureaucrats who profit from it.” A witty, erudite narrator not shy about inserting his opinions, Wilkinson draws on his extensive knowledge of art, literature, history urban planning, sociology, and culture to explore the intimate relationship between architecture and society. Illus. Agent: Annabel Merullo, Peters, Fraser, and Dunlop (U.K.) (July)
Reviewed on: 04/21/2014
Release date: 07/15/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-1-4088-4367-3
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-4088-4368-0
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