A Field Guide to American Houses (Revised): The Definitive Guide to Identifying and Understanding America's Domestic Architecture

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9781400043590: A Field Guide to American Houses (Revised): The Definitive Guide to Identifying and Understanding America's Domestic Architecture

Here at last: the fully expanded, updated, and freshly designed second edition of the most comprehensive and widely acclaimed guide to domestic architecture—in print since its publication in 1984, and acknowledged everywhere as the unmatched, essential reference to American houses.

Focusing on dwellings in urban and suburban neighborhoods and rural locations all across the continental United States—houses built over the past three hundred years reflecting every social and economic background—this guide provides in-depth information on the essentials of domestic architecture with facts and frames of reference that will enable you to look in a fresh way at the houses around you. With more than 1,600 detailed photographs and line illustrations, and a lucid, vastly informative text, it will teach you not only to recognize distinct architectural styles but also to understand their historical significance. What does that cornice signify? Or that porch? The shape of that door? The window treatment? When was this house built? What does the style say about its builders and their eras? You'll find the answers to these and myriad other questions in this encyclopedic and eminently practical book.

Here are more than fifty styles and their variants, spanning seven distinct historical periods. Each style is illustrated with a large schematic drawing that highlights its most important identifying features. Additional drawings and photographs provide, at a glance, common alternative shapes, principal subtypes, and close-up views of typical small details—windows, doors, cornices, etc.—that can be difficult to see in full-house illustrations. The accompanying text explains the identifying features of each style, describing where and in what quantity they can be found, discussing all of its notable variants, and tracing their origin and history.

The book's introductory chapters provide invaluable general discussions of construction materials and techniques, house shapes, and the various traditions of architectural fashion that have influenced American house design through the past three centuries. A pictorial key and glossary simplifies identification, connecting easily recognized architectural features—the presence of a tile roof, for example—to the styles in which that feature is likely to be found.
           
Among the new material included in this edition are chapters on styles that have emerged in the thirty years since the previous edition; a groundbreaking chapter on the development and evolution of American neighborhoods; an appendix on approaches to construction in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries; an expanded bibliography; and 600 new photographs and line drawings throughout.
           
Here is an indispensable resource—both easy and pleasurable to use—for the house lover and the curious tourist, for the house buyer and the weekend stroller, for neighborhood preservation groups, architecture buffs, and everyone who wants to know more about their own homes and communities. It is an invaluable book of American architecture, culture, and history.

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About the Author:

Virginia Savage McAlester is a lifelong advocate of historical preservation with deep professional interests in architecture. She has an undergraduate degree from Harvard University, where she attended Radcliffe College and completed the first-year curriculum of the Harvard Graduate School of Design. She is a founding member and past president of Preservation Dallas, and serves as an advisor emeritus for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. She is author of The Making of a Historic District: Swiss Avenue, Dallas, Texas and coauthor of The Homes of the Park Cities, Dallas: Great American Suburbs. She lives in Dallas, Texas, where she is an honorary member of the state and local chapters of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

From Booklist:

*Starred Review* This outstanding volume covers more than 50 styles of American residential architecture, from early settlement homes of the seventeenth century to the modern “Millennium Mansions” of the present day. Expanded and completely revised from the 1984 edition, this edition includes American house design from the last three decades and adds more than 600 new photographs and illustrations.The introductory section, “Looking at American Homes,” is broken down into distinct narratives. “Style: The Fashions of American Houses” distills the majority of houses into one of four principal architectural traditions; “Form: The Shapes of American Houses” features copious line drawings that show ground plans and proportions; “Structure: The Anatomy of American Houses” details the walls, roofs, and structural elements of a house; and “Neighborhoods: The Groupings of American Houses” highlights the different types of neighborhoods, including a discussion of plans, density, streets and sidewalks, and development influences.Each section that follows covers a specific style (e.g., “Dutch Colonial,” “Italianate,” “Queen Anne,” “Tudor,” “Mission,” “Prairie,” “Ranch”), with notes on identifying features, principal subtypes, variants and details, and geographic occurrence. Numerous black-and-white photographs illustrate the wide variety of houses found within each style, and line drawings express both fine and broad details. The appendix “Approaches to Construction in the 20th and 21st Centuries” discusses prefabricated structures and “green” construction. Copious notes and a bibliography for further reference round out the work. Both scholars and average readers will find much to enjoy in this volume. Highly recommended for most public and academic libraries—and the price point may allow for a circulating copies. --Rebecca Vnuk

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