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The Oxford Dictionary of Architecture 3/e (Oxford Quick Reference) Paperback – 28 Jan 2016
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...definitions are not only elegantly concise, they often sparkle with sententious wit. Give me this pleasingly well written dictionary any day. (Christopher Catling, SALON: Society of Antiquaries of London Online Newsletter)
the quintessential reference work for professionals, scholars and interested laymen. (Karen Latimer, Perspective: The Journal of The Royal Society of Ulster Architects)
simply the best dictionary of architecture on the market ... a delight. (Gwyn Headley, Follies)
[a] magisterial Dictionary ... although outwardly formidable, is surprisingly accessible and written in an engaging and often highly opinionated style. Curl and Wilson give us much, much more than mere facts ... This is a work of vast scholarship where learning is presented with style and panache; it will remain the definitive dictionary of architecture until Curl produces his fourth edition. For the garden and landscape historian it is a remarkable resource and ... should be the primary volume of reference for amateurs and scholars alike. (Timothy Mowl, Garden History: Journal of the Garden History Society)
Beautifully written in clipped, scholarly prose, assiduously referenced, with a comprehensive bibliography and seasoned with Curl's own dry wit, the dictionary is both informative and readable ... a substantial addition, in every sense, to the library of those with an interest in architecture and landscape design. (Hugh Petter, The Georgian: The Magazine of The Georgian Group)
What gives the references the occasional sting and much in the way of individuality is the marked viewpoint of James Stevens Curl, feisty as ever. Not for him the banal tower block or the lusting after weird and wonderful shapes in the perpetual search for novelty (Matthew Saunders, Newsletter of the Ancient Monuments Society in association with The Friends of Friendless Churches)
The dictionary is a great achievement (Ruairidh Moir, RIAS Quarterly: The Journal of The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland)
Written with considerable wit as well as great scholarship, this is an indispensable book of reference. (Graham Tite, Context: Journal of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation)
The book is essential and it now has no real competitor ... a hugely impressive work of scholarship. (Gavin Stamp, Country Life)
This updated reference work should be a standard work for all good libraries, both academic and public due to the Dictionarys pedigree and reputation. (Penny Dade, Reference Reviews)
About the Author
Professor James Stevens Curl is a leading architectural historian. His many books include Funerary Monuments & Memorials in St Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh (2013); Freemasonry & the Enlightenment: Architecture, Symbols, & Influences (2011-an earlier version of which won (1992) the Sir Banister Fletcher Award as Best Book of the Year); Spas, Wells, & Pleasure-Gardens of London (2010); Victorian Architecture: Diversity & Invention (2007); and The Honourable The Irish Society and the Plantation of Ulster, 1608-2000 (2000). He contributed to, and edited, the scholarly monograph Kensal Green Cemetery: The Origins and Development of the General Cemetery of All Souls, Kensal Green, London, 1824-2001 (2001), the first major study of any nineteenth-century cemetery in the world. He is a Member of the Royal Irish Academy, was twice Visiting Fellow at Peterhouse, University of Cambridge, and is currently Professor of Architecture at the University of Ulster. Dr Susan Wilson is an historian with an especial interest in garden architecture, landscape aesthetics, and places of commemoration. Her doctorate was conferred (2010) by the University of Bristol for her study of the 'Swiss Garden Cottage: the origins of the châlet-style in British architecture'. She published her early findings in Exercises in Translation: Swiss-British Cultural Exchange (2006). In 2013 she chaired an interdisciplinary conference-session on the Rustic Tradition in Garden Art in New York. She taught the history of the applied and decorative arts at Chelsea College of Art and Design (2000-6), and gained recognition for her teaching practice as a Fellow of The Higher Education Academy (2007). She has collaborated with Professor Stevens Curl on this edition of the Dictionary since 2012. Awarded (2012) the Opler Grant for Emerging Scholars by the Society of Architectural Historians (USA), she is also an Academic Member of the Landscape Institute.
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Like any good Dictionary, this one draws the reader into random and potentially endless wandering. For instance, I was intrigued by mention on the front flap of a ‘battle garden’, and discovered that one Irish example was made as “a talisman to keep the Turks at bay: it succeeded.” A reference there to ‘horn-work’ educated me on the difference between cat’s ear, lion’s ear, dog’s ear, and ass’s ear horns. A glimpse of nearby Victor Horta had me flipping back to Art Nouveau and Art Deco, with a radiant drawing of the Hoover Factory entrance; to Artisan Mannerism (“which some commentators have found refreshing and others distressing”) and so on to Mannerism, by way of a long detour on Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
Professor Curl’s once unfashionable, anti-Modernist stance is now almost mainstream, as many would agree with his devastating understatement on Walter Gropius: “the environments created as a result of his influence have not proved to be either agreeable or functional.” While this edition excludes entries on living artists, Frank Gehry, Daniel Libeskind and their kind get their come-uppance under ‘Deconstructivism or Deconstructionism’. However, such judgments are embedded in information as copious and impartial as one could wish. There are also new friends, for instance in the much-expanded article on ‘New Classicism’. My only regret is that there are no entries on buildings (except the Pantheon). Should I want to know who were the architects of the Empire State Building or Schloss Neuschwanstein, I would have to look on the Internet, which threatens to make all paper reference works redundant. This Dictionary more than justifies its medium, for beside the obvious advantage that one can trust all its facts, dates, and sources, it has the feeling of a real communication from mind to mind.
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