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American Architecture

American Architecture

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America has always presented a unique challenge to architects: should they emulate the Old World or respond to the demands of the New? Professor Handlin tells the complex story with lucidity and insight. Almost from its 17th-century beginnings, American architecture was subject to two apparently contradictory processes - the practical and the grandiose. The first comes through in the vernacular buildings of rural America, the innovations of Jefferson, Bulfinch's fine civic buildings, the offices and factories of the Industrial Age, and the comfortable domestic tradition that lies behind the houses of the Greene Brothers and Frank Lloyd Wright. The second is seen in the unprecedented daring of the Chicago School - great engineers like Adler united with great designers like Sullivan; in the majestic state capitols, exhibition halls, and public buildings by firms such as McKim, Mead & White; in the luxury of Fifth Avenue mansions; and in the exuberance of commercial Manhattan. The book ends with a lively account of today's situation, when genius, from Johnson to Venturi, is perhaps even more fertile than ever.