Art, Environment, Progress and Conflict: Books that tackle Modern and Contemporary Architecture

Yale University Press are among the most respected publishers of books on modern and contemporary architecture. Today we take an in-depth look at four recently published architecture books. 

Working with internationally-renowned architectural institutions and authors, Yale University Press publishes some of the most beautiful architecture books around (architecture students will certainly be aware of the Pevsner range). Yale books cover every aspect of the discipline, from ancient Alexandrian ruins to the towering buildings of contemporary architects that shape the world around us. Today we take a look at the latter, examining modern and contemporary architecture books that investigate the discipline from several different perspectives and contexts.

Architecture as art…

Dubuffet as Architect

Dubuffet as Architect
by Daniel Abadie

Jean Dubuffet (1901-85) was one of the major painters of the twentieth century, but his architectural achievements have commanded less attention until now. This oversight is all the more surprising in the light of his being awarded The American Institute of Architects’ medal in 1982. Captivated by the monumental size and three-dimensional possibilities of an architectural approach, Dubuffet collaborated with Fernand Leger’s ceramicist, Roland Brice, in transposing the Hourloupe series of paintings on to bas-relief. Further experiments with new materials, such as plastic resins, enabled him to work on a huge scale with multi-layered combinations of separate elements. Volume and space were his new medium, and public commissions followed: the 1969 “Group of Four Trees” for the Chase Manhattan Bank, and “the Jardin d’email” (Enamel Garden) at the Kroller-Muller Museum in Otterlo.

From simple objects in space, Dubuffet swiftly progressed to monumental sculptures as a dialogue with passers-by. Like the great works of modern sculptors such as Henry Moore or Archipenko, Dubuffet appropriated vacant space as one of sculpture’s major elements. In the early 1970s he undertook the construction of the Villa and Closerie Falbala, a dream-experience that draws the visitor in from L’Antichambre, passing through the Portes with their guardian figures, to the heart of the arrangement, the Cabinet logologique.

Daniel Abadie’s Dubuffet as Architect serves as the catalogue to a major European exhibition about this aspect of the artist’s output, restoring his projects – both those consummated in reality and those planned or abandoned – to the full attention they deserve. More

Architecture as environment…

Kevin Roche

Kevin Roche: Architecture as Environment
by Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen

Pritzker Prize-winning architect Kevin Roche (b. 1922) is best known for the large, bold urban structures he designed in the 1960s and 1970s, including the Oakland Museum of California and the Ford Foundation Headquarters in New York. Roche is also responsible for the master plans of major universities and museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History and the Central Park Zoo. He is among the twentieth century’s most successful corporate architects, receiving commissions for more than thirty-eight headquarters for such companies as Aetna, Conoco, General Foods, John Deere, Merck, and Union Carbide. A student of Mies van der Rohe and principal design associate of Eero Saarinen, Roche is the leading member of the third generation of modern architects.

Pages from Roche: Architecture as Environment

Pages from Roche: Architecture as Environment

One of his most important contributions has been to see architecture as a part of the larger man-made environment, which involved seeing transportation, infrastructure, and landscape as architectural issues. This book draws on previously inaccessible archival materials and unpublished interviews to present the full range of Roche’s career and place his innovative work within the larger context of modern architecture. More

Architecture as progress…

Eero SaarinenEero Saarinen Shaping the Future
Edited by Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen and Donald Albrecht

From the swooping concrete vaults of the TWA Terminal at JFK Airport to the 630-foot-tall Gateway Arch in St. Louis, the iconic designs of Eero Saarinen (1910-1961) captured the aspirations and values of mid-twentieth-century America. Potent expressions of national power, these and other Saarinen-designed structures, including the General Motors Technical Center, Dulles International Airport Terminal, and John Deere headquarters, helped to create the international image of the United States in the decades following World War II.

Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future offers a new and wide-ranging look at the entire scope of Saarinen’s career, including the architect’s network of clients, friends, and colleagues; his collaborative process; and the materiality, form, and theatricality that place his work within the intellectual and artistic culture of his era. This is the first book on Saarinen to incorporate significant research and materials from the newly available archives of his office, and includes the most complete portfolio of Saarinen projects to date: a chronological survey of more than 100 built and unbuilt works, previously unpublished photographs, plans, and working drawings. Lavishly illustrated, this major study shows how Saarinen gave his structures an expressive dimension and helped introduce modern architecture to the mainstream of American practice. In his search for a richer and more varied modern architecture, Saarinen become one of the most prolific and controversial practitioners of his time. More

Architecture in conflict…

Architecture in Uniform

Architecture in Uniform: Designing and Building for World War II
by Jean-Louis Cohen

This fascinating book offers a new perspective on the architectural history of the Second World War, which in previous accounts has most often been viewed as a hiatus between peaceful periods of production. Jean-Louis Cohen contends instead that during the years between the bombings of Guernica in 1937 and of Hiroshima in 1945, specific advances were fundamental to the process of modernization and led to the definitive supremacy of modernism in architecture.

Centering the discussion on ten main themes, the author investigates various aspects of architecture’s mobilization in the war years, as well as the trajectories of individual architects. He analyzes architectural developments worldwide and takes into account each of the major participants in the war, including the United States, Japan, Great Britain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, and the Soviet Union. The book not only focuses on plans, buildings, and technological inventions but also examines the many types of visual representation used for war purposes, enhanced by a rich array of more than 300 illustrations. More

Pages from Architecture in Uniform

Pages from Architecture in Uniform

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