recent reading into the future and the past

I have recently been reading two books that not coincidentally are primarily concerned with the life of buildings over time. Architecture’s fourth dimensional aspects are endlessly fascinating and both of these volumes bookend that with a look at ages prior to, and after, the life of the building as we see it.

Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us is a study of humankind’s impact on the earth and, in our absence, how lasting that impact may be. It is a fascinating kind of intellectual exercise with the simplest of premises. The book has an unabashed environmental ethos that doesn’t preach but clearly and lucidly displays our relative meekness in geologic time while warning of our negative lasting “contributions” to the planet. Thanks to thoughtful and generous clients for this one.

How Building’s Learn by Stewart Brand is more directly concerned with the changing lives of buildings over time. In a number of photographs organized by building type, it is very interesting to see how some specific buildings have fared over time. It is not so much a projection into the future as a journey into the past and although better photography and graphics would certainly have helped the book’s overall presentation, it is a very instructive and frankly humbling exposition of our mortality and building’s fates.

I highly recommend them both, and especially together.

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