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Why Architecture Matters by Paul Goldberger
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Nov 22, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: read-in-2011
Read in November, 2011

Earlier this year I read "Building Up And Tearing Down," a series of essays by Paul Goldberger, the Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic for the New Yorker. "Why Architecture Matters" is the other book he authored in 2009.

Divided into seven main themes (Architecture as Memory, Challenge and Comfort, etc.), this book takes a thoughtful journey through architecture from several distinct perspectives. Structurally and thematically, it reminded me a bit of a less poetic and more academic version of Alain De Botton's "The Architecture of Happiness." In some ways, that sense of this being a lesser version of another book became a cloud over "Why Architecture Matters" as I read it.

However, Goldberger's strong background in architectural criticism was a nice compliment to De Botton's perspective as a philosopher and cultural observer. There are some spectacularly great moments here on art versus function, purity and restraint versus fashion and exuberance, and historicism versus modernism. With occasionally brilliant writing and clear subject-matter expertise, Goldberger makes a great case in that architecture has to be a balance of these seemingly opposite forces.

Recommended for architecture or city nerds.
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