Why Architecture Matters is not a work of architectural history or a guide to styles or an architectural dictionary, though it contains elements of all three. The purpose of Why Architecture Matters is to "come to grips with how things feel to us when we stand before them, with how architecture affects us emotionally as well as intellectually" - with its impact on our lives.
"Architecture begins to matter," writes Paul Goldberger, "when it brings delight and sadness and perplexity and awe along with a roof over our heads." He shows us how that works in examples ranging from a small Cape Cod cottage to the "vast, flowing" Prairie houses of Frank Lloyd Wright, from the Lincoln Memorial to the highly sculptural Guggenheim Bilbao and the Church of Sant'Ivo in Rome, where "simple geometries... create a work of architecture that embraces the deepest complexities of human imagination."
Based on decades of looking at buildings and thinking about how we experience them, the distinguished critic raises our awareness of fundamental things like proportion, scale, space, texture, materials, shapes, light, and memory. Upon completing this remarkable architectural journey, listeners will enjoy a wonderfully rewarding new way of seeing and experiencing every aspect of the built world.
The book is published by Yale University Press.
©2009 Paul Goldberger (P)2010 Redwood Audiobooks
"Why Architecture Matters reminds us that in a democratic capitalist society, the only sure guarantee that we will get good architecture is if we shake off our ignorance and start to take a personal interest in the design of our neighborhoods. Here is a succinct, lyrical and heartfelt book that celebrates the best works of architecture and points the way to being able to build more of it in the world today. There are so many guides to the world of art, so few to the world of architecture. This is among the very best." (Alain de Botton, author of The Architecture of Happiness)
The writing was a passionate depiction of a valuable force in any culture: architecture. But the narration was spoken as if the words had no meaning. Cut through that flaw, and the subject is worth hearing over and over again.
I have enjoyed Michael Prichard narrations in the past (though I don't think I could say he ever sounds quite as interested in what he's reading, as in the sound of his own voice), but this particular combination is HORRID. Goldberger's extended essays are worth exploring so I'm managing for now to get past the mismatch with the speaker, but I would never recommend this version.
I enjoyed the content of the book because it had many interesting perspectives and observations about architecture, including the author's description of the way his childhood influenced his relationship with buildings. Architecture is defined from several perspectives and subsequent chapters explore architecture as form, function, space, and in relationship to movies and art. I do think the book would benefit from a more dynamic narrator since the writing is not always very engaging. There are passages which are essentially lists of architectural features that were difficult to stay focused on due to the gravely voiced narrator. The author provides mostly Western examples (especially the Eastern US) and is fairly traditional in his views--not a post-modern or iconoclastic treatment of the subject.
Reminds professionals the fundamentals and purpose of our profession. Regular readers not versed or familiar with subject will find their views realigned and see great works of architecture around in a different light with more profound appreciation.
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