Looking Around is about architecture as an art of compromise—between beauty and function, aspiration and engineering, builders and clients. It is the story of the Seagram Building in New York and the Wexner Center for the Visual Arts in Columbus, Ohio—a museum that opened without a single painting on view, so that critics could better appreciate its design. But what of the visitors who want a building that displays art well? What of those who work in the building? Looking Around explores the notion of the architect as superstar and assesses giants from Palladio to Michael Graves, styles from classicism to high tech. It demonstrates how architecture actually works—or doesn’t—in corporate headquarters, airports, private homes, and the special buildings designed to represent our civilization.
For all its erudition, Looking Around is also bracingly straightforward. Rybczynski looks closely and critically at structures that may once have dazzled us with their ostentation and expense, and sees them as triumphs or failures—of aesthetic ideals and of lasting function. This is a fascinating and illuminating book about an art form integral to our lives.
—The Washington Post
“You only have to look around to see how thought-provoking these essays are.”
—The New York Times
“His best work to date.”
—The Boston Sunday Globe
I. Homes and Houses
Home, Sweet Bungalow Home
The Androgynous Home
Looking Back to the Future
If a Chair Is a Work of Art, Can You Still Sit on It?
Getting Away from It All
As American as Blue-Jeans and Sweat Shirts
From Mao’s House to Our House
Hot Housing Buttons
Should Suburbs Be Designed?
II. Special Places
A Place Map
Art Inside the Walls
At the Mall
The Birthplace of Postmodernism
A National Gallery
A National Billboard
A Homemade House
III. The Art of Building
Little Architects, Little Architecture
“But Is It Art”?
How to Pick an Architect
A Decade of Disorientation: 1910-19
Will the Real California Architecture Please Stand Up?
Shaping Chicago’s Future
God Isn’t in the Details, After All
The Seven Implants of Postmodern Architecture
Listen to the Melody
Reprise: The Art of Building, or the Building of Art?