December 2021 MBR The Architecture Shelf

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Midwest Book Review

Jan 1, 2022, 3:56:09 PMJan 1
The Architecture Shelf

Louis Kahn: The Importance of a Drawing
Louis Kahn, artist
Michael Merrill, editor
Lars Muller Publishers
c/o Distributed Art Publishers
155 Sixth Avenue, 2nd floor, New York, NY 10013-1507
9783037786444, $85.00, HC, 512pp

Synopsis: Louis Isadore Kahn (born Itze-Leib Schmuilowsky; March 5 [O.S. February 20] 1901 - March 17, 1974) was an Estonian-born American architect based in Philadelphia. After working in various capacities for several firms in Philadelphia, he founded his own atelier in 1935. While continuing his private practice, he served as a design critic and professor of architecture at Yale School of Architecture from 1947 to 1957. From 1957 until his death, he was a professor of architecture at the School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania.

Kahn created a style that was monumental and monolithic; his heavy buildings for the most part do not hide their weight, their materials, or the way they are assembled. Famous for his meticulously built works, his provocative proposals that remained unbuilt, and his teaching, Kahn was one of the most influential architects of the twentieth century. He was awarded the AIA Gold Medal and the RIBA Gold Medal. At the time of his death he was considered by some as "America's foremost living architect". (Wikipedia)

"The importance of a drawing is immense, because it's the architect's language," said the architect Louis Kahn to his masterclass in 1967. While most studies of Kahn focus on his built works or theory and use drawings mainly to illustrate these, this publication chooses to focus on Kahn's drawings as primary sources of insight into his architectural intelligence and imagination. Lavishly illustrated with over 900 high-quality reproductions of work by Kahn and his associates, incisively presented by a group of acclaimed architectural experts, Deftly edited by Michael Merrill, "The Importance of a Drawing" is a deep immersion into Kahn's work and his design process.

A testament to Kahn's masterly craft, "The Importance of a Drawing" also makes a provocative primer on architectural representation by posing timely questions on how architects use drawings to see, learn, conjecture and reveal. Destined to become a standard reference on Kahn, this book is an essential addition to the libraries of established designers as well as students of architecture.
The result of years of extensive research, The Importance of a Drawing contains original contributions and historical texts from Michael Merrill, Michael Benedikt, Michael B. Cadwell, Louis I. Kahn, Nathaniel Kahn, Sue Ann Kahn, David Leatherbarrow, Michael J. Lewis, Robert McCarter, Marshall D. Meyers, Jane Murphy, Harriet Pattison, Gina Pollara, Colin Rowe, David Van Zanten, Richard Wesley and William Whitaker.

Critique: Exceptionally well organized and presented, in a coffee-table style volume format (9.45 x 11.81 inches, 6.7 pounds), "The Importance of a Drawing" is a critically important and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Architecture & Architectural History collections in general, and Louis Kahn supplemental curriculum studies lists in particular.

Shaping Place: Duda|Paine Architects
Turan Duda, author
Jeffrey Paine, compiler
Duda | Paine Architects, compiler
ORO Editions
31 Commercial Blvd. Suite F, Novato CA 94949
9781951541101, $60.00, HC, 348pp

Synopsis: In "Shaping Place: Duda|Paine Architects", architectural firm founders Turan Duda, FAIA, and Jeffrey Paine, FAIA, as well as Duda|Paine's studio leaders discuss the evolution of their work and the history of its thematic roots. The firm's ideas on public space, outdoor environments, new working and learning models, and contextual responsiveness come to life in projects for wellness, academia, the workplace and urban development using a range of scales, material qualities, structural systems and architectural palettes. Steve Dumez, FAIA, of Eskew Dumez Ripple, provides new perspective on the firm's work within the larger field of architecture.

Critique: This coffee-table style volume (9 x 1.5 x 11 inches) is an exceptionally informative and profusely illustrated history of a successful and influential architectural firm that will prove to be a welcome and recommended addition to the individual architecture student's reading list, as well as professional, community, college, and university library Contemporary Architecture collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Mid-Michigan Modern
Susan J. Bandes
Michigan State University Press
1405 South Harrison Road, Suite 25, East Lansing, MI 48823-5245
9781611862164, $49.95, HC, 320pp

Synopsis: From 1940 to 1970 mid Michigan had an extensive and varied legacy of modernist architecture. While "Mid-Michigan Modern: From Frank Lloyd Wright to Googie" by Susan J. Bandes explores buildings by renowned architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Alden B. Dow, and the Keck brothers, the text (based on archival research and oral histories) focuses more heavily on regional architects whose work was strongly influenced by international modern styles.

The reader will see a picture emerge in the portrayal of buildings of various typologies, from residences to sacred spaces. The automobile industry, state government, and Michigan State University served as the economic drivers when the mid-Michigan area expanded enormously in the growing optimism and increasing economic prosperity after World War II. Government, professional associations, and private industry sought an architectural style that spoke to forward looking, progressive ideals. Smaller businesses picked a Prairie style that made people feel comfortable. Modernist houses reflected the increasingly informal American lifestyle rooted in the automobile culture.

With a detailed narrative discussing more than 130 buildings and enriched by 150 illustrations, the text comprising "Mid-Michigan Modern: From Frank Lloyd Wright to Googie" is a vibrant start at reclaiming the history of mid-Michigan modernist architecture.

Critique: Profusely illustrated in both color and black/white, "Mid-Michigan Modern: From Frank Lloyd Wright to Googie" is an exceptionally informative, and impressively presented study that will be a welcome addition to professional, community, college, and university library American Architectural History collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of architectural students, academia, architectural historians, professional architects, and non- specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Mid-Michigan Modern: From Frank Lloyd Wright to Googie" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781611862171, $38.98).

Editorial Note: Susan J. Bandes is professor emerita of art history at Michigan State University and director of museum studies. She also served as director of the Kresge Art Museum from 1986 to 2010.


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