Oh, I see! How inventive! You've actually stacked the boxes I am supposed to live in!

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wednesday Book Review / Promotion

The Future of the Past

A comprehensive and eloquent argument for “new traditional” architecture that preserves the style and character of historic buildings.
With contemporary design being redefined by architects and urbanists who are recovering the historic language associated with traditional architecture and the city, how might preservation change its focus or update its mission? Steven W. Semes makes a persuasive case that context matters and that new buildings and additions to old buildings should be harmonious with their neighbors.
Semes mounts the most thorough attack I’ve ever read on the anti-tradition stance of many architectural and historic preservation professionals. The need for this book is intense….Everyone, including general readers, will find this book’s many illustrations, with their pithy captions, illuminating. This book should help the confused 21st century to create and maintain places of lasting value. (Philip Langdon - New Urban News )

[P]resents a persuasive case against the preservation ethic of oppositional styling; that is, the argument that new additions to historic buildings must be deliberately un-period so as not to be confused with the existing, ‘authentic’ section of the building. Semes illuminates the error of this way of thinking, and walks us through a history of architecture and preservation in the process. (Planetizen.com )

[A] stirring and passionate call to get historic preservation right by respecting the past without making it sacrosanct. (Civil Engineering )

[A] clear and comprehensive argument….adds significantly to the discussion, one that should continue as an important topic within the historic preservation, urban planning, and architecture professions. (AASLH History News )

The Decade’s Most Important Book on Urban Architecture….With the publication of this volume, Steven Semes has vaulted into the first rank of contemporary architectural critics and preservation theorists…. should be must reading for all preservationists and people serving on landmark commissions and design review boards. (Clem Labine - Traditional Building )

Semes has written an indictment so complete and so damning, and yet expressed with such grace and diplomacy, that all thoughtful preservationists and even some modern architects will finally understand, if not admit, the error of their ways….so clear, so strong and so compelling that professionals in the field may be judges by how they react to it. (David Brussat - The Providence Journal )

[S]peaks in common-sense terms, it is didactic and approachable, and the laymen who are in the trenches…will find powerful ammunition in it. (American Arts Quarterly )

[B]eautifully illustrated….comprehensive….[N]eeds to be understood and followed by professional architects and preservationists; most of the lay public, which likes old buildings and neighborhoods, is already on Semes’ side. (Rob Hardy - The Commercial Dispatch )

I do not think I've ever come away from a book more impressed. Its erudition and its force in putting across a complex contrarian argument are incomparable. This book should be required reading for modern architects, who will start to whistle past the graveyard, and preservationists, who will see the error of their ways and, if they are honest, will admit it.... All I can say is read the review - or better yet, go out right now and get the book itself. It is my new bible. (David Brussat - Architecture Here and There, The Providence Journal

The Future of the Past: A Conservation Ethic for Architecture, Urbanism and Historic Preservation
by Steven W. Semes

Retail:  $60.00 Amazon: $37.80
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