Why Buildings Stand Up

Why Buildings Stand Up : The Strength of Architecture

3.9 (560 ratings by Goodreads)
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Between a nomad's tent and the Sears Tower lies a revolution in technology, materials, and structures. Here is a clear and enthusiastic introduction to buildings methods from ancient times to the present day, including recent advances in science and technology that have had important effects on the planning and construction of buildings: improved materials (steel, concrete, plastics), progress in antiseismic designs, and the revolutionary changes in both architectural and structural design made possible by the computer.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 320 pages
  • 154.94 x 231.14 x 22.86mm | 544.31g
  • WW Norton & Co
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Reissue
  • B/W line drawings
  • 0393306763
  • 9780393306767
  • 65,621

Review quote

[A] delightful book.... Descriptions of structural milestones, such as the Pyramids, Hagia Sophia, Brunelleschi's Duomo, and the Eiffel Tower, as well as the more familiar examples of Gothic cathedrals, suspension bridges, and skyscrapers, are interspersed with information on basic structural theory.... The author sheds light on some of the problems of contemporary aesthetics. With its photos, drawings, and a readable style, this book will serve both the general reader and the specialist. "show more

Review Text

Our bodily needs, says the author quite rightly, haven't changed very much since man first appeared on Earth. We need shelter, we sleep lying down, and we like to be near each other. To that extent, there's not much difference between an African mud hut, the Rover's Return and the Sydney Opera House. In the first of two superb books, Salvadori writes so knowledgeably, expressing his sheer delight, about bridges, loads, stress, weather and a host of other topics, that the general reader is totally captivated by what he may have expected to be a fairly dusty subject. There are good jokes, wise observations and, best of all, beautifully drawn illustrations on just about every page. Fundamental principles such as the arch and the cantilever are explained with such clarity and sly wit that they could have been written by Sydney Smith or Woody Allen. This is chiefly because architect Salvadori's approach is aesthetic rather than technical. Although he understands the technology involved from soup to nuts, his love of great and enduring buildings such as the Pyramids, the Eiffel Tower and the Brooklyn Bridge shines out in these exemplary studies of constructions that still stand as testaments to the genius of their builders. One reservation: in his chapter on the great cathedrals, Salvadori devotes too much space to the one at Beauvais (it's probably the one he knew best) at the expense of other important buildings at Albi or Ely, for example, which is a pity because one would have valued his insights on those. This book is enthralling, as is its companion volume Why Buildings Fall Down. There's no question of having one of them: you need them both, and the way you look at buildings will never be the same again. (Kirkus UK)show more

Rating details

560 ratings
3.9 out of 5 stars
5 32% (179)
4 35% (198)
3 27% (150)
2 3% (19)
1 2% (14)
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