The skyward trend of thought : the metaphysics of the American skyscraper /
Thomas A.P. van Leeuwen.
1st MIT Press ed. --
Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, 1988, c1986.
viii, 176 p. : ill. ; 28 cm.
More Details
Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, 1988, c1986.
general note
Includes index.
catalogue key
Bibliography: p. 153-164.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1989-04:
This is an unorthodox study of the development of the American skyscraper between 1870 and 1935. The Dutch scholar van Leeuwen begins with an insightful critique of the conventional modernist account of the tall building as presented in such standard works as Sigfried Giedion's Space, Time and Architecture (1941; 5th ed. 1966) and Carl W. Condit's The Chicago School of Architecture (CH, Nov '64). The author then focuses on the quasi-religious significance of the skyscraper as the archetypal symbol of what he labels the "transcendent materialism" of American culture. He links the American tall building to such biblical precedents as the Tower of Babel, Jacob's Ladder, and the Temple of Jerusalem. The book consists of five independent essays rather than one continuous narrative. These essays are the revised versions of lectures published originally in French, British, American, and Italian publications. The editing is uneven; in some essays, for example, foreign-language quotations are translated, whereas in other essays they are left in the original language. Many of the illustrations are frustratingly small. Despite these faults, this book is valuable because it offers a provocative European perspective on this quintessential American building type. D. P. Doordan University of Illinois at Chicago
This item was reviewed in:
SciTech Book News, January 1989
Reference & Research Book News, February 1989
Choice, April 1989
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