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Likewise, Stoller's overly corrected portraits of Wright's Johnson Wax buildings come off as cold and off-putting. Such photography did the architectural profession no favors; Stoller's images did as much to bring on the demise of Modernism as any Robert Venturi polemic.
Building with Light is a welcome reminder of photography's symbiotic yet tension-filled relationship with buildings. Elwall has provided a solid chronological survey of the topic. There are predictable chestnuts, such as Frederick Evans's cathedral views and Julius Shulman's California houses of the 1950s.
Is architectural photography merely documentary (we know the Larkin building only through pictures), or is it art? Photography may have diminished our architectural expectations through "desensitizing repetition of the same views," says
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Elwall. The most visually rewarding pictures here are those in which art trumps documentary.
The book's best images date from the 19th century. Schinkel's Schauspielhaus is supremely rendered by a spare 1856 albumen print, while few painters of ruins captured the romance of the Erechtheum better than William Stillman, American consul to Crete. Robert MacPherson's photographs of Roman antiquities "sacrificed architectural details and the principles of perspective" to capture the magnificence of the past. William Morgan
The Resilient City: How Modern Cities Recover from Disaster, edited by Lawrence J. Vale and Thomas J. Campanella. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005, 376 pages, $24.95.
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The Resilient City comes as natural disasters seem to be gaining in ferocity and frequency and fear of terrorism has added a new level of anxiety to urban life. The book surveys a wide field of case studies of urban rebuilding, ranging from the overly familiar (New York after 9/11) to the virtually unknown (the devastating and partially concealed 1976 earthquake in Tangshan, China).
Essays by 14 academic experts take differing approaches in assessing responses to disasters. The first section addresses the nar ratives that emerged following destruction by terrorists in Oklahoma City in 1995 and New York in 2001. The book then moves on to historic examples, examining the symbolic dimension of the reconstruction of Washington, D.C., after the British sacked the city in 1814; the complex, ideologically competitive rebuilding of the two halves of postwar Berlin; the Soviet-influenced rebuilding of Warsaw; the case of Guernica, Spain, the Basque village destroyed by Axis bombing in 1937; and the many disasters that have befallen Jerusalem's monuments since A.D. 70. A final section focuses on the politics of reconstruction in modern-day Tokyo, Tangshan, Mexico City, Beirut, and Los Angeles, with a further contribution on the effects of digital technologies on urban reconstruction.
It is difficult to make broad generalizations from this immense stock of information, but to their credit, the editors set out twelve "axioms of resilience." These emphasize the
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