PEOPLE AND BUILDINGS by Robert -- Ed. Gutman


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These 32 pieces by established architects and social scientists are intended to show that architects and designers neglect behavioral studies -- but shouldn't. However, no conceptual breakthroughs are generated here. The first four sections present data and ideas familiar to any first-year design student. Designing for ""man as biological man"" is carried to an extreme in Alexander Kera's ""Physiology and Anatomy of Urination"" which explains the need to eliminate splashing noises. The question of need for space is generally viewed a priori with no consideration for what people are actually doing. Articles about environmental influences affirm the obvious fact that improved surroundings tend to improve people. A section on the social meaning of architecture wildly combines an interesting exposition of ""urban image notation"" with references to Thorstein Veblen, furniture arrangement, and war memorials. In his own contribution Gutman confirms the impression that he is offering more of the same small-scale improvements for which design has traditionally been criticized. As a straw man he poses architecture devoid of human content, then adds a dubious sociological gloss, bringing design back to its present level of piece-by-piece conceptualization with only casual regard for human activity. Other contributors include Christopher Alexander, Bernard Barber, John Cassel, James M. Fitch, and, among the better known social scientists, Abraham Maslow and Lee Rainwater. Overall, the book emphasizes technical innovations at the expense of a holistic functional conception of design, while at the same time indulging in such pseudo-scientific claims as ""Man must have three or four intimate contacts at every stage of his existence.

Pub Date: June 16th, 1972
ISBN: 1412809932
Publisher: Basic Books