Review by Choice Review
In this updated and condensed version of his acclaimed three-volume compendium The Architecture of the United States (CH, Apr'82), Smith, an architectural historian and fellow of the American Institute of Architects, confirms Whitman's adage that "architecture is something you do when you look at it." As in the earlier set, the list represents Smith's personal and eclectic selection of "great" American buildings. Every state is represented; the number of buildings per state varies. The new edition downsizes from nearly 1,400 structures to 500, half pre-1900 and half 20th-century. Kidder selects only buildings open to the public, in keeping with his expressed belief that buildings must be examined both inside and out. Arranged chronologically from the cliff dwellings of Chaco Canyon in New Mexico to Denver's International Airport, each entry is illustrated with a high-resolution black-and-white photo. Post-1900 buildings carry references to architectural periodicals for further study. Smith's engaging style, packed with period details and history as he evokes each structure's Geist, should instruct most readers. An introductory essay by Michael J. Lewis and a bibliographic overview by Kazys Varnelis add to the book's usefulness. It concludes with a glossary, regional maps, and lists of buildings, architects and designers, and building types. Although the new edition will not compete with comprehensive local and state guidebooks, it provides a perceptive snapshot of the nation's vast architectural legacy. For academic and larger public libraries. R. T. Clement University of Tennessee
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.