A History of American Architecture: Buildings in Their Cultural and Technological Context

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9780719047268: A History of American Architecture: Buildings in Their Cultural and Technological Context

Why did the Victorians drape their buildings in elaborately ornate decoration? Why was the Arts and Crafts movement so popular with the American middle class at the end of the 19th century? Why did Modernism replace traditional architectural styles after World War II? Mark Gelernter provides fresh answers to questions like these, convincingly showing how buildings express powerful cultural forces.

Embodying deeply felt attitudes about fundamental issues, buildings express our relationship with nature, our social relations with others, the importance of the individual, the value of science and technology, and our political role in the world. He explains how designers sometimes expressed these ideas with available building technologies, while at other times they invented new technologies in order to realize new ideas. Each of the ten chronological chapters, accompanied by almost 300 photographs, drawings, and maps, begins with a broad survey of the dominant cultural forces and technologies, and then discusses how designers of the day responded with particular architectural forms.

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From the Publisher:

7 1/2 x 9 1/4 trim. 191 illus. 84 drawings. 23 plans. 10 maps. LC 98-51812

From the Inside Flap:

“Mark Gelernter has written an expansive interpretation of American architecture that is rooted in intellectual history . . . A provocative book [that provides] a broad understanding of the cultural forces that influence our built environment.”—Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians

“A complete history of American architecture would fill a bookcase, but one can gain a strong understanding of this fascinating and challenging subject from this excellent survey, which describes American architecture in ten chronologically ordered chapters . . . By providing a global framework for American architecture, it guides the reader to evaluate the influence of major cultural events on architecture and provides the basis for understanding the ongoing search for an American architectural style. The author ties the broad picture of the development of American architecture to specific places and times by opening each chapter with a map of North America that illustrates major geopolitical, economic, and cultural events . . . The strengths of this book, and its contributions to the study of American architecture, lie in its broad description of the history of American architecture, including a thorough explanation of the architecture of the first civilizations of North America; its parallel exploration of the development of the architecture of Native Americans, Europeans, and Americans; its excellent mixture of photographs and line drawings of buildings throughout history; and its extensive glossary and bibliography. This book is a welcome and serious addition to the literature on the history of American architecture and should find itself on the shelves of scholars, graduate students, and other lovers of architecture.”—APT Bulletin: The Journal of Preservation Technology

“This significant and needed book provides for the first time a useful and manageable historic framework for survey courses whose purpose is to teach the history of American architecture and not merely its connoisseurship. In a manner noteworthy for its even-handedness and avoidance of quirks of taste, it constructs a comprehensive and accurate historical armature with an architectural perspective on which discussions of specific buildings can readily be hung.”—Glenn Andres, Middlebury College

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