Graham explores the building of “megastructures,” from skyscrapers to stadiums, bridges to dams, opera houses, tunnels and oil-drilling platforms.
This is one of those big, busy books that jam a lot of information onto the page via boxed insets, quick, jumpy paragraphs with attention-grabbing snippets, and a tumble of artwork and illustrations, with an occasional gatefold that feels as big as a quilt. Nothing is conveyed with much context or depth. The material all comes in a rush, so it pays to slow down and drink it in; readers must assemble all the components to get the big picture. Graham is informed and in his brusqueness has chosen all the right tidbits. There are fun facts—how long it takes to paint the Eiffel Tower or wash all the windows in Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building; how all the concrete in the Hoover Dam could pave a highway from San Francisco to New York City—and an array of monster problems that can beset massive structures. There are peeks at future megastructures as well as photos of contemporary ones, such as offshore drilling platforms, the “Blinking-Eye Bridge” over the River Tyne in England and the Large Hadron Collider, that are utterly futuristic. Nor has Graham forsaken the past, with visits paid to the Ponte Vecchio, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Delaware Aqueduct.
A rangy and exuberant, if skimming, introduction to giant, man-made structures. (Nonfiction. 7-10)