Books by Joel Stites

Released: Nov. 29, 1996

The lives and careers of ten movers and shakers are gathered in this user-friendly introduction to the history of American architecture from the team behind Under Every Roof (1993, not reviewed). Brief but comprehensive biographical sketches, as well as discussions of aesthetic styles, are offered for each of the nine men and one woman on whose shoulders rest the inspiration for such landmarks as the Guggenheim Museum, Monticello, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The arrangement of subjects in chronological order helps trace the development of architecture from the time it was viewed as a hobby for rich men to its current use of three- dimensional computer-modeling systems and space-age materials. Among those included: Thomas Jefferson, Frederick Law Olmsted, Louis Henri Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, Julia Morgan. Stites's drawings show the buildings and people discussed, but his use of cute cartoon characters detracts from the nobility and sheer engineering elegance of the subjects. Glenn is both admiring- -sometimes gushing—and selective, e.g., the section on I.M. Pei, which focuses on his intellectual approach and leanings as a geometrist, omits mention of his commission for the Louvre. Commendably, she documents Philip Johnson's role in bringing Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and other European architects to the US during WW II, and chronicles Mies's subsequent influence on Johnson's work, but leaves the discussion of the AT&T Corporate Headquarters festering in the past—it hasn't had an open-air atrium in more than two years. Helpful back matter will make this a valuable—but not stand-alone—resource for budding builders and draftpersons. (glossary, bibliography, index) (Biography. 10+) Read full book review >