The Building Blocks series presents icons of modern architecture as interpreted by the most significant architectural photographers of our time. The first four volumes feature the work of Ezra Stoller, whose photography has defined the way postwar architecture has been viewed by architects, historians, and the public at large. The buildings inaugurating this series--Eero Saarinen's TWA Terminal, Wallace Harrison's United Nations complex, Le Corbusier's Chapel at Ronchamp, and Paul Rudolph's Yale Art and Architecture Building--all have bold sculptural presences ideally suited to Stoller's unique vision. Each cloth-bound book in the series contains at least 80 pages of rich duotone images. Taken just after the completion of each project, these photographs provide a unique historical record of the buildings in use, documenting the people, fashions, and furnishings of the period. Through Stoller's photographs, we see these buildings the way the architects wanted us to know them. In the preface to each volume Stoller tells of his personal relationship with the architect of each project and recounts his experience photographing it. Brief introductions reveal the unique history of each building; also included are newly drawn plans.
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The Ronchamp Chapel is a boldly expressive free-form structure that says as much about enlightened patronage as it does about the genius of Le Corbusier, a seminal figure whose work usually celebrated pure rationality rather than the mystery and emotion on conspicuous display there. While the church hierarchy supported Corbu's poetic vision wholeheartedly, local inhabitants and bureaucrats at first hated this masterpiece enough to deny it water and electricity. Only when architectural tourists came in large enough numbers to bolster their economy did they relent. The chapel is just one of the modernist icons that preeminent architectural photographer Ezra Stoller documented in a career that spanned more than half a century. Now retired, Stoller has been reassembling his work for permanent (rather than periodical) publication. The Ronchamp Chapel is one of a series published by Princeton Architectural Press that presents individual buildings in depth in a small-size volume. The photographs are not only stunning, they have particular documentary value in that Stoller shot them when the buildings were new--in this case, 45 years ago.
The series has been designed for relative affordability, and its subjects are well chosen. Each volume includes a very brief preface by Stoller setting out his relationship to the building and a fairly short critical, historical, analytical essay. Buttressed by about a dozen endnotes, the essays occupy a middle ground between informal and scholarly writing. They are followed by 50 to 60 duotone photos and a few plan drawings. This is an expert look at an extraordinary building and well worth readers' serious attention. --John PastierAbout the Author:
Ezra Stoller , who trained as an architect, began photographing buildings in the late 1930s and soon became the preeminent architectural photographer in the world. The agency he founded, Esto Photographics, continues to operate to this day. Philip Johnson
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