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Looking Around: A Journey Through Architecture
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Looking Around: A Journey Through Architecture

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  186 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
From the opening sentences of his first book on architecture. Home, Witold Rybczynski seduced readers into a new appreciation of the spaces they live in. He also introduced us to "an unerringly lucid writer who knows how to translate architectural ideas into layman's terms" (The Dallas Morning News). Rybczynski's vast knowledge, his sense of wonder, and his elegantly unclu ...more
Paperback, 301 pages
Published December 1st 1993 by Penguin Books (first published 1992)
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Apr 02, 2011 Lobstergirl rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Donna La Pietra
Shelves: got-rid-of
I imagine these magazine pieces would have felt relevant for a year or so after publication, but by 1992 when this collection was assembled, their shelf life was approaching its end. Rybczynski's writing has none of the freshness of an architecture critic like Paul Goldberger, or the pungency of a Robert Hughes. It has a blandness that would be at home in an airline magazine. I also have to question his taste, given that he approves of Robert Graves' Portland Municipal Building but not of I.M. P ...more
Feb 10, 2014 Terri rated it it was amazing
Shelves: architecture
Planning on building a house, I was especially interested in Rybczynski's thoughts and insights about homes and what they should look like. From the start I was captivated. Wanting to be sleek and modern, I thought an architect would quickly confirm my ideas. Instead, at the start of the book Rybczynski, with reasoning, brings the reader back to the traditional home and approves of it; and makes me want to build one... and live in a lovely little neighborhood.
He moves beyond the house and Lookin
Jul 06, 2014 Lauren rated it it was amazing
This is an outstanding collection. The essays are near history, written in the 80-90s and gave me a lot of insight in to the minds of architects trained during postmodernism. Since those people were my teachers, the book felt like a series of ah-ha moments. The series of essays on housing and development was particularly notable.

Potential drawback is the lack of pictures. I looked up many of the projects discussed, which helped. If you're not an architect already familiar with the works discuss
Aug 01, 2012 Owen rated it really liked it
Here is an unusual book: Witold Rybczynski takes us wandering through the professional byways of a subject usually reserved for a more intellectual readership, if such a thing exists. Why architecture is important and what makes it so is the subject matter here, brought to us by a very competent writer. Delightfully so, in fact, as Rybczynski has the storyteller's ability to weft and weave.

The stories he has chosen here are a mixed bunch and we are asked to think about such diverse constructions
Mar 29, 2010 Austin rated it liked it
After I really enjoyed Rybczynski's Last Harvest a couple of months ago, I picked up two more of his books. I had no idea that this book was 20 years old before I read it, but most of it still feels very applicable. There are only a couple references to technology that feel dated. He expands on many of the themes that I enjoyed in Last Harvest, particularly the way that houses and residential architecture can be used through time as an indicator of the views and values of American society at a p ...more
Apr 13, 2013 Heidi rated it really liked it
I love Witold and reading about the art and meaning of buildings. This is a fine overview of both homes and public architecture. It's a bit dated in some ways -- written in the early 1990s, but I still learned a lot. From bungalows, to Eero Saarinen's Habitat in Montreal, to traditional urban courtyard homes in China, to Eames, to the John Hancock Building, to airports, to malls. Lots of fun and all in small, easy to read chapters. Just wish there were more pictures!
Sep 29, 2007 Ben rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A excellent, though perhaps slight, collection of essays on architecture as lived experience. These are personal commentaries, not didactic critiques, yet there is much of value in them. From the final essay, "The Art of Building": "When the link between design and construction is broken, as it is in so many modern buildings, architecture is the loser, and architects are cast adrift, searching for inspiration in history, philosophy, sculpture, and painting."
Jul 11, 2008 Stephen rated it really liked it
"Looking Around" has aged in places (it's a collection of magazine pieces from the late 1980's and early 1990's), but is still an engaging read. Rybczynski's a thoughtful and graceful writer, and the book is refreshingly free of jargon -- anybody who's interested in the ideas behind architecture will find something to like here.
Jan 21, 2011 Caryl rated it really liked it
This was a wonderful book on the different aspects of architecture. It covered a wide variety of architectural ideas in essay form. It took me a long time to complete the book but I am glad I was introduced to the writer and would read more of his work. It does assist me in being more observant when looking at buildings.
Mar 17, 2007 Nat rated it really liked it
Mildly entertaining collection of magazine essays on architecture. Reasonably advocates that more attention be paid to ordinary, "background", architecture rather than the monumental projects (skyscrapers, museums, monuments, etc.) architects focus on.
Aug 22, 2008 Becky rated it really liked it
Brilliant little book which reads more like a series of short stories (originally his magazine column, I think). Middle section not so interesting, but I he has a light touch and is consistent in his support of the minor over the major.
Oct 09, 2011 Finlay rated it really liked it
Shelves: architecture
A collection of articles on various architecture topics, intended for the lay-person
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Witold Rybczynski was born in Edinburgh, of Polish parentage, raised in London, and attended Jesuit schools in England and Canada. He studied architecture at McGill University in Montreal, where he also taught for twenty years. He is currently the Martin and Margy Meyerson Professor of Urbanism at the University of Pennsylvania, where he also co-edits the Wharton Real Estate Review. Rybczynski has ...more
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“I enjoy visiting building sites. Unlike the ordered anonymity of office bureaucracy or the featureless regularity of a factory assembly line, a building site appears disorderly and chaotic. In fact, there is organization, but it is a loose orchestration of many separate trademen, working side by side but not necessarily together.” 6 likes
“There may be fewer people in the American house of the nineties, but there are a lot more things.” 5 likes
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