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Why We Build: Power and Desire in Architecture Hardcover – 20 Aug 2013


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Why We Build In an era of brash, expensive, provocative new buildings, a prominent critic argues that emotions--such as hope, power, sex, and our changing relationship to the idea of home--are the most powerful force behind architecture, yesterday and (especially) today.We are living in the most dramatic period in architectural history in more than half a century: a time when cityscapes are being redrawn on a Full description

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Illuminating Our Environment 12 Mar. 2014
By Karen J. Dahood - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Moore, a trained architect and former director of the Architecture Foundation in London theorizes about the relationship of buildings to emotions. As a critic, he calls his contemporaries on their mistakes, and is humanistic in doing so, saving his praise for those (too few) who have honored the context of their projects. Most of all, he points to the success of projects that honor the people they serve, that are quietly inserted into the life there is.

Highest in his echelon is Lina Bo Bardi, an Italian-born Brazilian who, decades ago, designed an art center that simply blended into Sao Paulo’s Trianon, a public park. Lower down is One Hyde Park, a set of “harsh and assertive” blocks of apartments selling at 15 to 140 millions of pounds to foreign investors, and spoiling the look of Knightsbridge as well as access to park views. Lowest is Dubai where spectacular and fantastic “show-off” towers rise above imported beaches and the nasty “crisis in the drains.”

Moore takes us around the world and across time, to discuss the visions that build pyramids and world fairs, the hope that designs housing to accommodate chronic poverty, the open mind that enables futuristic technology. He comments on the failure of the “big roof” concept (think “airports”), and success of the simplest laundry (think “shaded pool”). He observes Manhattan’s contentious rebuilding the World Trade Center simultaneous to the collaborative re-purposing an abandoned railway track as a linear park.

Moore is amused by but concerned about starchitect power plays, names that dominate the profession, some who will squash opposition. He recalls his own stumbles in working with the amazing Zaha Hadid, who was commissioned to design new quarters for the Architecture Foundation on a “sliver” of land near the Tate Modern. Her daring idea quadrupled the budget, caved in to practical considerations (such as difficulty getting equipment through traffic); and eventually was canceled when the stock market fell.

This 422-page tour through our built and imagined environment is strenuous, but it is led by a likable as well as knowledgeable guide.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Fresh look 4 Feb. 2015
By John Morris Dixon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Only a fraction read to date, but impressed.
Examines interesting, often offbeat, situations. Comes to strong, convincing conclusions.
Brilliant use of English (those Brits!). Sometimes goes overboard with colorful wording.
Recommended to anyone with interest in architecture or urban development.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Fascinating and enjoyable read 30 Nov. 2013
By Rachel Mabel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I found nothing to disagree with in this delightful book. A must read for anyone who hires or works with an architect.
Five Stars 19 Sept. 2014
By Julia Coimbra Martin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book is perfect, so as the shipping!
Five Stars 13 Nov. 2014
By Mistercrisp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fascinating book!
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