edited by Stanley Abercrombie -- Interior Design, 12/1/2003 12:00:00 AM
New Architecture in Britain
by Kenneth Powell
New York: Merrell Publishers, $60
240 pages, 350 color illustrations, 100 plans
New London Architecture
by Kenneth Powell
New York: Merrell Publishers, $30 paperbound
240 pages, 300 color illustrations
A former architecture correspondent for the Daily Telegraph and the author of monographs on Norman Foster and Richard Rogers, Kenneth Powell has produced New Architecture in Britain as a companion to New London Architecture, which was published in 2001 and is now being reissued in paperback. With first-rate photography from a multitude of sources, the two books cover more than 200 designs by over 100 firms, most of the projects built, some under construction, and some just planned.
Although the two volumes vary slightly, both are arranged by categories such as Infrastructure and Public Buildings, Museums and Heritage, Education and Health, Shops and Restaurants, Housing, and Offices. The surveys are broad rather than deep, with a spread and occasionally only a page devoted to each design. This means that there's not always space for interior views, but the quality of the architecture is generally so high that this reader would have eliminated remarkably few examples.
The Britain volume's special delights include a Surrey house by David Chipperfield and one in Warwickshire by Glenn Howells. These and their companion projects make it clear that fine and often brilliant buildings are abundant in London and the U.K. these days—to a degree unfortunately unmatched by any U.S. city.
Embassy Residences in Washington, D.C.
by Benjamín Villegas
Bogotá, Colombia: Villegas Editores, distributed by Rizzoli International Publications, $50
336 pages, 271 color illustrations
In her helpful introduction, Jane C. Loeffler sets the scene, telling us that there are embassies from 175 nations in Washington, D.C.—all of them, unlike the more businesslike chanceries, seldom open except by invitation. Readers then embark on a privileged tour of 41.
The book is handsomely designed and generously illustrated with photography by Antonio Castañeda-Buraglia, the vast majority of images focusing on interiors. However, Lily Urdinola de Bianchi's translated text—while naming ambassadors, crediting architects, identifying artists, and mentioning sources such as Reed & Barton for silver and Royal Worcester for china—makes hardly a mention of interior designers. The only exceptions noted are Edouard Hitau for the embassy of Belgium, Finn Juhl for Denmark, and Leonardo Castro Freire for Portugal.
Urdinola de Bianchi's tone is also more chatty than scholarly. A salon is "so-very-Versailles." At one embassy, she marvels at "all that its walls have seen and heard." At another, the "magic begins upon entering." Never mind. Castañeda-Buraglia's fine photography of these rarely published rooms is enough to make the book a welcome contribution.
Bent Ply: The Art of Plywood Furniture
by Dung Ngo and Eric Pfeiffer
New York: Princeton Architectural Press, $45
160 pages, 141 illustrations (125 color)
Alvar Aalto and Charles and Ray Eames play starring roles in this detailed history of plywood furniture, though outstanding examples stretch as far back as a Gerald Summers armchair of 1933, Jean Prouvé's Standard chair of 1934, and Marcel Breuer's 1936 nesting tables for Isokon Plus. All appear as part of an 88-item illustrated compendium, and the authors also provide a step-by-step account of manufacturing processes. A definitive coverage of the subject—between laminated-wood covers, no less!
What They're Reading...
A partner in the Chicago firm of Powell/Kleinschmidt and member of the Interior Design Hall of Fame
by Lynne Cooke and Michael Govan
New York: Dia Art Foundation, $60
336 pages, 216 illustrations
Donald Powell recently visited the Dia Art Foundation's new outpost in Beacon, New York—and found OpenOffice: Art + Architecture Collaborative's renovated box-printing factory "superb" and an "incredible architectural feat." Documenting the 300,000-square-foot building, its collection of minimalist art, and the installation techniques that brought everything together, Powell says, "This book allows for quiet reflection on a great experience, one seldom found in any museum."