cover image Robert & James Adam

Robert & James Adam

Rykwert, Joseph Rykwert. Rizzoli International Publications, $25 (223pp) ISBN 978-0-8478-0589-1

Inspired by Greek and Roman architecture, 18th-century Scottish architect Robert Adam, whose brother James was a key assistant, designed many private and public buildings and interiors in Scotland and England, in a way that, the authors state, ""added grace and beauty by a mixture of grotesque, stucco and painted ornaments, together with flowing rainceau, with its fanciful figures and winding foliage.'' But their reputation as decorators, the Rykwerts argue, has obscured the Adams's importance in other areaseliminating improvisation by exercising rigid control over numerous craftsmen (plasterers, cabinetmakers, metal-workers), devising techniques for fitting ``the stately life-style of the aristocracy into narrow urban sites,'' and pioneering work in high-density urban development. The extensive text is illustrated with 217 photographs and drawings. December