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Why Buildings Stand Up: The Strength of Architecture
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Why Buildings Stand Up: The Strength of Architecture

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  557 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published February 17th 2002 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1980)
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Jul 07, 2011 Charles rated it really liked it
Without having read much to compare it to, I'd call this a good, comprehensive introduction to the mechanics of architecture. The discussion stays at a generalist's level and covers a lot of ground from the pyramids to the Superdome. And then, in the final chapter, semiotics.

Things I know now that I didn't know before:
1. The construction of the pyramids does not necessarily demonstrate knowledge of π. The book doesn't quite explain what π was theorized to have to do with the pyramids, but throu
Lee Fritz
Oct 20, 2014 Lee Fritz rated it liked it
Shelves: owned
Our intro to structures class references this book (along with its "fall down" companion) as recommended reading, so I thought I should know what it says. Periodically insightful, the book walks through history explaining architectural developments through the lens of structural and technological advances.

At times the author has utmost respect for the engineering profession, which is a nice change of pace from many coordination meetings. The book falls short in two ways. First, the intro and co
Sep 05, 2008 erock rated it did not like it
This is a poor showing when compared to the sheer awesomeness of Why Buildings Fall Down. Which will kick your ass.
Inherent in 'Fall Down' is the imminent disaster about to take place, which is just thrilling. There is no thrill regarding why buildings stay up. 'Why do the pyramids stay up?' you ask? Well I'll tell you, they are a GIANT HEAP OF HEAVY ASS ROCKS that's why.
There, I just wrote a chapter of this book.
If you're interested in learning why shit works in a discovery channel for the m
Canard Frère
Jul 30, 2011 Canard Frère rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Livre très didactique sur des concepts qui sont pourtant à première vue assez rébarbatifs (compression, flambement, transferts de charge et autres problèmes structurels), l'auteur se permet même par moment quelques envolées poétiques.
Mar 19, 2017 Bob rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
As a review of structures, their principles and the monuments they support (p. 259) the book is very readable, and the authors explanations (totally non-mathematical) are easy to follow and remember. While the principles remain unchanged, materials and techniques have changed a lot since the books 1980 publication date. Information about well-known monuments like the Eiffel Tower, the Pyramids of Giza, Hagia Sophia, the Duomo in Florence and the Cathedral of Beauvais are interesting and well-pr ...more
David Chen
May 02, 2013 David Chen rated it it was amazing
The Book Why Buildings Stand Up by Mario Salvadori is a very stunning book. It talking about different kinds of buildings, the discovery of the buildings, how they 1st started building them, and many others. 1 of the most important thing about building tall buildings is that we need to know the strengths in them and the weakness. We need to make sure that the building is strong so it doesn't collapse and kill innocent people. The history of buildings are very old and are still used today. They m ...more
Feb 24, 2008 Mark rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: architects, poets, writers
I've worked in the trades for years which probably accounts for why I'm always looking up when I enter a large auditorium, entrance hall, or any structure with vertical heft.

Salvadori examines classic structures of the west, from antiquity through the medieval and baroque periods, illustrating his concise primer on structures (beams, columns, loads etc) many are familiar with.

The final chapter is dedicated to the semiotics of structure. He notes that aesthetics of architecture are dynamic and
Aug 22, 2013 Zenko rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013
Uno de los libros más curiosos que he leido nunca. Explica de forma muy amena como funcionan los edificios y en general cualquier cosa construida, casas, puentes, teatros, estadios etc. Es un libro que me ha hecho pensar lo poco que sabemos sobre los edificios que vemos todos los días o en los que vivimos y trabajamos.

Habla de edificios antíguos como las pirámides, el partenón o la caderdál de Chartres pero también de modernos como el puente de Brooklyn o la torre Eifel. Me ha hecho entender com
Sep 27, 2008 Barbara rated it it was ok
I'll admit upfront that I only got halfway through this book and I'm labeling it as "read" because I can't make myself pick it up again. It had been recommended to me by a student, so I excitedly asked my class this past semester to purchase and read it. Bad mistake. I don't like to say this, (and I probably wouldn't if the author were still alive), but Salvadori can take even the most interesting concepts and make them boring. My class was too polite to say much, but when I'd ask the students p ...more
Dec 02, 2011 Nik rated it liked it
This book does a good job of introducing the basic principles of structural engineering with few if any equations or highly technical jargon. I enjoyed the range of types of architecture covered, and learned something about thin concrete structures and shells. The writing is for the most part commendably direct and easy to understand, though there were a few instances where I found myself skipping forward a few paragraphs. In all this is a good primer for someone interested in pursuing a career ...more
Joni Baboci
Why buildings stand up is an interesting account of the science of construction in a historical perspective. It is really easy to read even for a person with no background in architecture or engineering while at the same time being fun since the theory of building is continuously supplanted by awesome historical examples. While the book is a bit dated, it still is informative and information packed since it mostly discusses the theory behind structure explaining the main concepts which can be ex ...more
Matt Johnson
Sep 04, 2013 Matt Johnson rated it really liked it
Coming from an architecture student who understands the principles overviewed in this book, it was still very interesting. This book is intended as a large overview of the physical principles that are at work in a building such as forces, moment, deflection, shear, weight distribution, etc, as well as multiple building systems, ideas and designs. It is well written and easy to understand. Includes great illustrations and historic examples of architectural styles.
Apr 27, 2013 Giacomo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Un libro veramente unico. Nella sua semplicità riesce ad accompagnare l'appassionato di strutture e l'ingegnere laureato in un percorso culturale-scientifico che manca purtroppo nelle nostre università. Uno sguardo a tutto tondo sulle problematiche statiche più frequenti e gli errori più clamorosi della storia da cui poi si è sempre tratto un grande insegnamento per la scienza delle costruzioni. Ottimo.
Munthir Mahir
Dec 12, 2016 Munthir Mahir rated it did not like it
The book is outdated. Didn't mind the fact, having the objective of learning about the fundamentals and basics of structures and building. However, the book is so unstructured and disorganized. The schematics and drawings are hard to read and are visually complicated. The historical contexts and references seem to be more of fillers rather than logical and practical references.
The book does cover the fundamentals and basics though a study/reading companion book is in order.
Apr 18, 2013 Don rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A layman's book about the fundamentals of how buildings, which includes bridges, stand up. No too technical and full of informative line drawings. I found it fascinating. I have never really trusted reinforced concrete. I do now that I understand how it transfers weight. And now I can truly appreciate, as well as name, a hyperbolic paraboloid.
Robert Fritz
Jul 10, 2015 Robert Fritz rated it really liked it
I read this book because my engineer son uses it in a class he co-teaches at the School of the Art Institute. The class is for graduate students in architecture to learn a bit about what goes into engineering their creations. The book does a great job of sharing the history of materials used in building... from the pyramids to contemporary structures.
May 18, 2008 Damian rated it liked it
This is a great introduction to architecture, and answers questions you may have thought of concerning how some of the most famous buildings and structures actually hold together and dont come crashing down. What's funny is that you may not want to know how poorly some things are built. Pyramids, Eiffel Tower, mathmateical calculations if you feel so inclined.
Jan 04, 2014 Dawn rated it it was amazing
fantastic. not recommended for everyone, but if one is structurally inclined, at all, this is an extremely well-written book. interesting anecdotes and examples, not too technical, but mature enough that i wasn't bored.
Aug 28, 2013 Isscandar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: da_biblioteca
In alcuni punti, per un profano, non sono molto chiare le descrizioni delle strutture, ed i disegni non aiutano molto.

Interessante la parte relativa alle perizie fatte da Salvadori per i tribunali negli USA.

Kelan Steel Lowney
Jul 30, 2008 Kelan Steel Lowney rated it liked it
At times a bit too vernacular, but chock full of cool information. I really like the phenomenon by which, once someone learns something, s/he can't help but see the world differently. Whenever I look at waffled concrete ceilings, I will always see them in light of this book.
Dvd (buonanotte popolo)
il libro divulgativo che avrei voluto scrivere io... che ha già scritto Salvadori...scritto benissimo, intuitivo, appassionato, comprensibile quasi da tutti pur parlando di concetti che così facili proprio non sono...applausi!
Nov 02, 2011 Evelyn rated it really liked it
Quite excellent. Not sure what to make of the author's attitude toward engineers, but for a complete novice this book was accessible. I cannot judge how thorough the author's treatment of the subjects was; it felt solid. Recommended.
kathleen searfoss
Oct 02, 2016 kathleen searfoss rated it really liked it
Very good for anyone who teaches or would like to incorporate STEM principles in teaching. Very basic and comprehensible architectural laws. Classic and would recommend to any STEM instructor for adding hands-on models to train the brain in architectural tenets.
Jun 10, 2015 Isaac rated it liked it
Very good descriptions of great buildings and structural principles for lay people. Especially good are the chapters on specific buildings, although the whole book was interesting.
Francisco Reivax
It is one of the few books that turned me on to take all my elective classes in the field of Architecture while I was doing my MFA/Sculpture at Parsons School of Design in New York City.
Jun 23, 2008 Johanna rated it really liked it
Shelves: architectastic
I started this all gung-ho but I realize I haven't picked it up in months so I'm not really currently reading it anymore. Someday.
Mar 21, 2012 Mike rated it really liked it
Excellent book for the average joe that is interested in architecture and the history behind it.
Carl Strange
Jan 22, 2012 Carl Strange rated it really liked it
Shelves: engineering
This was a fine introduction for a non-engineer like me. Frankly, it made me want to buy a bag of concrete mix and build something.
Robin Kessler
Sep 21, 2015 Robin Kessler rated it it was amazing
Very clear explanations of structural engineering concepts. I used some of Salvadori's work as a teacher.
Greg Whitcher
Feb 08, 2015 Greg Whitcher rated it really liked it
Great introduction to the history and science of structures for non-engineers.
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