What Style is it? - John C. Poppeliers and S. Allen Chambers Jr.

This book is a memento of our trip to the States late last year. We went on a trip with friends through North Carolina down to Georgia, and saw Charleston and Savannah. We had a fantastic time. They are rather lovely cities, and the architecture really makes the places. Hence I got this rather neat little guide to American architecture.

The book is effectively a side-effect of the US's federal program to manage their historic buildings, through their HABS (Historic American Buildings Survey) project. It also pointed me at the HABS website which has some wonderful resources (super-high resolution scans of photos of Fallingwater, anyone?). It contains a few pages on each of the styles of building, with photos, architectural drawings and a bit of text. There's a nice glossary at the back, and it all sits together rather well.

Moreover, while it's an introduction to American architecture, I think it sits well as a general introduction to styles of architecture. This is because American architecture is a magnifying lens. Styles done elsewhere are done... more so. In places, there's a real lack of restraints, which is all the better for demonstrating the salient points of a style! Moreover, when something's ugly, it's really ugly! All in all, I found it remarkably enjoyable, even if it's a somewhat dry exposition.

Posted 2009-08-17.