THE go-go 1980s are clearly over as far as architecture-book
publishing is concerned. Gone are the brassy, bold monographs
filled with new works by postmodern architects. What remains are a
few thoughtful, well-planned projects. Here are brief glimpses of
several current releases:
Patricia Bayer's "Art Deco Architecture: Design, Decoration, and
Detail from the Twenties and Thirties" (Abrams, 224 pp., $49.50) is
a monument to the imagination.
Art Deco was truly a worldwide movement. Bayer guides the reader
through a profusion of buildings that were precursors to Art Deco.
She then embarks on an exhilarating tour of the international
exhibitions between 1925 and 1940 that served as grand showplaces
for Art Deco style.
Art Deco buffs who enjoy this book should also search out the
1989 volume published by Abrams called "Art Nouveau and Art Deco
Silver" by Annelies Krekel-Aalberse. While narrowly focused on
silverwork, the book is an excellent complement to Bayer's
Meredith L. Clausen's "Spiritual Space: The Religious
Architecture of Pietro Belluschi" (University of Washington Press,
128 pp., $50) makes an elegant case for the successful fit between
Belluschi's churches and their congregations.
Clausen also explains Belluschi's dilemma. After World War II,
many churches expanded and built new edifices. The architecture of
these new structures had to incorporate a balance between the faith
and hope that a new building always represents and the growing
secular demands on churches and synagogues as they increasingly
served as multifunctional community centers.
In an article by Belluschi excerpted at the back of the book, he
spells out some of his thoughts on religious buildings: "To design
a house of worship is in effect to explore our relationship with
God and to search for an understanding of the nature of religion as
an institution.... By what means should a church building strive to
express its transcendent purpose?"
Clausen explores many of Belluschi's attempts to craft an answer
to that question - churches and synagogues that are spare, refined,
and tuned-in to the faith of their congregations.
Houses have always been designed as bulwarks against the
vagaries of climate. The idea of cooperating with the environment
has been anathema to most designers. In "The Naturally Elegant
Home:Environmental Style" (Little, Brown, 232 pp., $45), Janet
Marinelli debunks the common belief that environmentally sensitive
homes are basically unfit for habitation.
Unreliable energy-saving gimmicks and gizmos dating back to the
oil crisis of 1973 have "been elevated to flawless engineering and
fine art," writes Marinelli. This book shows the magnificent
possibilities and the practical realities of environmental design. …