This 330-page tome contains seven essays and more than 300 illustrations. The catalog of an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, it is not a history of 20th-century architecture, per se. But there is enough information, both visual and verbal, to ground any thoroughgoing reader in the architectural theory of the century. All the classics are covered: the Chrysler building; Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater; Bauhaus buildings; world's fair pavilions, including Moshe Safdie's Habitat '67; Saarinen's sweeping rooflines; Sutemi Horiguchi's measured modernism; the Sydney Opera House; Pompidou Center in Paris; and hundreds of other iconic images.
Some of the written material lacks the crisp, clean style of the architecture, but the book is brainy and provocative, and some of the essays are brilliant. French architectural historian Jean-Louis Cohen, a specialist on the international impact of modernism and "Americanism," contributed a multifaceted chapter in which he analyses urban architecture, urban planning, political forces fomenting or forbidding change, new towns, the vertical city and its effects on individualism, and more.
The pictures are often small but always clear, many in color, including plans, paintings and drawings, maps, and movie stills. --Peggy Moorman