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Humanism and the Urban World Cover

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Humanism and the Urban World

Leon Battista Alberti and the Renaissance City

By Caspar Pearson

Imagining Philadelphia Cover

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Imagining Philadelphia

Edmund Bacon and the Future of the City

Edited by Scott Gabriel Knowles

When Philadelphia's iconoclastic city planner Edmund N. Bacon looked into his crystal ball in 1959, he saw a remarkable vision: "Philadelphia as an unmatched expression of the vitality of American technology and culture." In that year Bacon penned an essay for Greater Philadelphia Magazine, originally entitled "Philadelphia in the Year 2009," in which he imagined a city remade, modernized in time to host the 1976 Philadelphia World's Fair and Bicentennial celebration, an event that would be a catalyst for a golden age of urban renewal.

What Bacon did not predict was the long, bitter period of economic decline, population dispersal, and racial confrontation that Philadelphia was about to enter. As such, his essay comes to us as a time capsule, a message from one of the city's most influential and controversial shapers that prompts discussions of what was, what might have been, and what could yet be in the city's future.

Imagining Philadelphia brings together Bacon's original essay, reprinted here for the first time in fifty years, and a set of original essays on the past, present, and future of urban planning in Philadelphia. In addition to examining Bacon and his motivations for writing the piece, the essays assess the wider context of Philadelphia's planning, architecture, and real estate communities at the time, how city officials were reacting to economic decline, what national precedents shaped Bacon's faith in grand forms of urban renewal, and whether or not it is desirable or even possible to adopt similarly ambitious visions for contemporary urban planning and economic development. The volume closes with a vision of what Philadelphia might look like fifty years from now.

Imagining the Turkish House Cover

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Imagining the Turkish House

Collective Visions of Home

By Carel Bertram

“Houses can become poetic expressions of longing for a lost past, voices of a lived present, and dreams of an ideal future.” Carel Bertram discovered this truth when she went to Turkey in the 1990s and began asking people about their memories of “the Turkish house.” The fondness and nostalgia with which people recalled the distinctive wooden houses that were once ubiquitous throughout the Ottoman Empire made her realize that “the Turkish house” carries rich symbolic meaning. In this delightfully readable book, Bertram considers representations of the Turkish house in literature, art, and architecture to understand why the idea of the house has become such a potent signifier of Turkish identity. Bertram's exploration of the Turkish house shows how this feature of Ottoman culture took on symbolic meaning in the Turkish imagination as Turkey became more Westernized and secular in the early decades of the twentieth century. She shows how artists, writers, and architects all drew on the memory of the Turkish house as a space where changing notions of spirituality, modernity, and identity—as well as the social roles of women and the family—could be approached, contested, revised, or embraced during this period of tumultuous change.

The Interface Cover

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The Interface

IBM and the Transformation of Corporate Design, 1945–1976

John Harwood

In February 1956 the president of IBM, Thomas Watson Jr., hired the industrial designer and architect Eliot F. Noyes, charging him with reinventing IBM’s corporate image, from stationery and curtains to products such as typewriters and computers and to laboratory and administration buildings. What followed—a story told in full for the first time in John Harwood’s The Interface—remade IBM in a way that would also transform the relationships between design, computer science, and corporate culture.

IBM’s program assembled a cast of leading figures in American design: Noyes, Charles Eames, Paul Rand, George Nelson, and Edgar Kaufmann Jr. The Interface offers a detailed account of the key role these designers played in shaping both the computer and the multinational corporation. Harwood describes a surprising inverse effect: the influence of computer and corporation on the theory and practice of design. Here we see how, in the period stretching from the “invention” of the computer during World War II to the appearance of the personal computer in the mid-1970s, disciplines once well outside the realm of architectural design—information and management theory, cybernetics, ergonomics, computer science—became integral aspects of design.

As the first critical history of the industrial design of the computer, of Eliot Noyes’s career, and of some of the most important work of the Office of Charles and Ray Eames, The Interface supplies a crucial chapter in the story of architecture and design in postwar America—and an invaluable perspective on the computer and corporate cultures of today.

Islamic Gardens and Landscapes Cover

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Islamic Gardens and Landscapes

By D. Fairchild Ruggles

"In the course of my research," writes D. Fairchild Ruggles, "I devoured Arabic agricultural manuals from the tenth through the fourteenth centuries. I love gardening, and in these texts I was able to enter the minds of agriculturalists and botanists of a thousand years ago who likewise believed it was important and interesting to record all the known ways of propagating olive trees, the various uses of rosemary, and how best to fertilize a garden bed."

Western admirers have long seen the Islamic garden as an earthly reflection of the paradise said to await the faithful. However, such simplification, Ruggles contends, denies the sophistication and diversity of the art form. Islamic Gardens and Landscapes immerses the reader in the world of the architects of the great gardens of the Islamic world, from medieval Morocco to contemporary India.

Just as Islamic culture is historically dense, sophisticated, and complex, so too is the history of its built landscapes. Islamic gardens began from the practical need to organize the surrounding space of human civilization, tame nature, enhance the earth's yield, and create a legible map on which to distribute natural resources. Ruggles follows the evolution of these early farming efforts to their aristocratic apex in famous formal gardens of the Alhambra in Spain and the Taj Mahal in Agra.

Whether in a humble city home or a royal courtyard, the garden has several defining characteristics, which Ruggles discusses. Most notable is an enclosed space divided into four equal parts surrounding a central design element. The traditional Islamic garden is inwardly focused, usually surrounded by buildings or in the form of a courtyard. Water provides a counterpoint to the portioned green sections.

Ranging across poetry, court documents, agronomy manuals, and early garden representations, and richly illustrated with pictures and site plans, Islamic Gardens and Landscapes is a book of impressive scope sure to interest scholars and enthusiasts alike.

The Italian Piazza Transformed Cover

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The Italian Piazza Transformed

Parma in the Communal Age

Areli Marina

During the long thirteenth century, the cities of northern Italy engendered a vital and distinctive civic culture despite constant political upheaval. In The Italian Piazza Transformed, Areli Marina examines the radical transformation of Parma’s urban center in this tumultuous period by reconstructing the city’s two most significant public spaces: its cathedral and communal squares. Treating the space of these piazzas as attentively as the buildings that shape their perimeters, she documents and discusses the evolution of each site from 1196, tracing their construction by opposing political factions within the city’s ruling elite. By the early fourteenth century, Parma’s patrons and builders had imposed strict geometric order on formerly inchoate sites, achieving a formal coherence attained by few other cities. Moreover, Marina establishes that the piazzas’ orderly contours, dramatic open spaces, and monumental buildings were more than grand backdrops to civic ritual. Parma’s squares were also agents in the production of the city-state’s mechanisms of control. They deployed brick, marble, and mortar according to both ancient Roman and contemporary courtly modes to create a physical embodiment of the modern, syncretic authority of the city’s leaders. By weaving together traditional formal and iconographic approaches with newer concepts of the symbolic, social, and political meanings of urban space, Marina reframes the complex relationship between late medieval Italy’s civic culture and the carefully crafted piazzas from which it emerged.

J. C. Nichols and the Shaping of Kansas City Cover

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J. C. Nichols and the Shaping of Kansas City

Innovation in Planned Residential Communities

William S. Worley

Often synonymous with Kansas City is the beautiful and enchanting Country Club Plaza.  This upscale midtown shopping center and surrounding suburban community-which remain the places to shop and live nearly sixty years after their construction-are a testament to the creative genius of J.C. Nichols.  Now available in paper, J.C. Nichols and the Shaping of Kansas City chronicles the success of the man who forever changed the shape of Kansas City and has influenced urban development throughout the United States.

Japanese Buddhist Temples in Hawai‘i Cover

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Japanese Buddhist Temples in Hawai‘i

An Illustrated Guide

George J. Tanabe and Willa Jane Tanabe

Upon entering a Japanese Buddhist temple in Hawai‘i, most people—whether first-time visitors or lifelong members—are overwhelmed by the elaborate and complex display of golden ornaments, intricately carved altar tables and incense burners, and images of venerable masters and bodhisattvas. These objects, as well as the architectural elements of the temple itself, have meanings that are often hidden in ancient symbolisms. This book, written by two local authorities on Japanese art and religion, provides a thorough yet accessible overview of Buddhism in Hawai‘i followed by a temple-by-temple guide to the remaining structures across the state.

Introductory chapters cover the basic history, teachings, and practices of various denominations and the meanings of objects commonly found in temples. Taken together, they form a short primer on Buddhism in Japan and Hawai‘i. The heart of the book is a narrative description of the ninety temples still extant in Hawai‘i. Augmented by over 350 color photographs, each entry begins with historical background information and continues with descriptions of architecture, sanctuaries, statuary and ritual implements, columbariums, and grounds. Appended at the end is a chart listing each temple's denomination, membership number, and architectural type.

While many Buddhist temples in Hawai‘i are active social and religious centers, a good number are in serious decline. In addition to being an introduction to Buddhism and a guide book, Japanese Buddhist Temples of Hawai‘i is an indispensable historical record of what exists today and what may be gone tomorrow. It will appeal to temple members, pilgrims, residents, and tourists interested in local cultural and historic sites, and historians of Buddhism in Hawai‘i.

363 color illus.

Jewish Sanctuary in the Atlantic World Cover

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Jewish Sanctuary in the Atlantic World

A Social and Architectural History

Barry L. Stiefel

Jewish Sanctuary in the Atlantic World is a blend of cultural and architectural history that examines Jewish heritage as it expanded among the continents and islands linked by the Atlantic Ocean between the mid fifteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Barry L. Stiefel achieves a powerful synthesis of material culture research and traditional historical research in his examination of the early modern Jewish diaspora in the New World. Through this illustrated work, Stiefel examines forty-six synagogues built in Europe, South America, the Caribbean Islands, colonial and antebellum North America, and Gibraltar to discover what liturgies, construction methods, and architectural styles were transported from the Old World to the New World. Some are famous—Touro in Newport, Rhode Island; Bevis Marks in London; and Mikve Israel in Curaçao—while others had short-lived congregations whose buildings were lost. The two great traditions of Judaism—Sephardic and Ashkenazic—found homes in the Atlantic World. Examining buildings and congregations that survive, Stiefel offers valuable insights on their connections and commonalities. If both the congregations and buildings are gone, the author re-creates them by using modern heritage preservation tools that have enriched our understanding of the past, tools from such diverse sources as architectural studies, archaeology, computer modeling and rendering, and geographic information systems—all of which, when combined, can bring an even richer understanding of the past than incomplete, uncertain traditional historical resources. Buildings figure as key indicators in Stiefel’s analysis of Jewish life and social experience, but the author’s immersion in the faith and practice of Judaism invigorates every aspect of his work.

John Gaw Meem at Acoma Cover

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John Gaw Meem at Acoma

The Restoration of San Esteban del Rey Mission

Kate Wingert-Playdon

Built by Spanish Franciscan missionaries in the seventeenth century, the magnificent mission church at Acoma Pueblo in west-central New Mexico is the oldest and largest intact adobe structure in North America. But in the 1920s, in danger of becoming a ruin, the building was restored in a cooperative effort among Acoma Pueblo, which owned the structure, and other interested parties. Kate Wingert-Playdon’s narrative of the restoration and the process behind it is the only detailed account of this milestone example of historic preservation, in which New Mexico’s most famous architect, John Gaw Meem, played a major role.

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