5 Architecture Books of 2017 From MIT Press

Las Vegas as the American Dream, the New Brutalism, the greatest non-building architect, and much more.

The more transparent the world becomes, the more difficult it is to follow all the new books, especially ones that are not yet published. Strelka Magazine collected the most interesting texts on architecture that will be published this year by MIT Press.

The Strip

Las Vegas and the Architecture of the American Dream
Stefan Al
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Everyone can recall classic “western” movies depicting the adventurous past of the USA through the lens of mass culture. But how was it built and where did it all go? Dutch architect Stefan Al, Associate Professor of Urban Design at the University of Pennsylvania, examines the transformations of the Las Vegas Strip, which impersonated the Wild West with saloon doors, wagon wheels, and other typical details. He argues that this analysis can trace the transformations of America itself. From the moment the Strip was born, Las Vegas has evolved into the “implosion capital of the world”. Al views the Strip in a larger context, tracing the metamorphoses of a city that offers a vivid projection of the American dream.

Architects’ Gravesites

A Serendipitous Guide (USA)
Henry H. Kuehn

There are a lot of gravesite designs all over the world. They vary depending on the cultural, religious, and social context. Henry Kuehn has presented an alphabetical listing, from Alvar Aaltoand Dankmar Adler (Louis Sullivan’s partner) to Frank Lloyd Wright and Minoru Yamasaki (designer of the World Trade Center’s twin towers), of famous architects’ gravesites. Kuehn poses the question that if all working architects leave behind monuments to themselves in the form of their projects, then are their gravesites more monumental (or architectural) than the others? This illustrated guide to the final resting places of famous architects reveals as much about mortality as about monumentality.

Not Quite Architecture

Writing around Alison and Peter Smithson
M. Christine Boyer

The English architects Alison and Peter Smithson were pioneers of the New Brutalism. Although they built only a few buildings, they left behind a body of writing that considers issues in urbanism, architecture and… “not so architecture” (this title appeared after a series of articles written by Alison for the Architect’s Journal). Professor at the School of Architecture at Princeton University Christine Boyer explores the Smithsons’ own works (such as manuscripts, articles, and unpublished texts) in pursuit of the larger cultural contexts in which they formed and were working. He also highlights their intense concern with the responsibility of an architect.

Elastic Architecture

Frederick Kiesler and Design Research in the First Age of Robotic Culture
Stephen J. Phillips
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Frederick Kiesler was called “the greatest non-building architect of the time” because of his ideas that were difficult to construct — he rejected the modern style in favor of more organic forms and flexible structures that could respond to the ever-changing needs of the body in motion. Stephen Phillips's book is the first in-depth exploration of his research and design practice, which was the beginning of the idea of the architect not as master-builder, but as a researcher and innovative practitioner.

Public Space? Lost and Found

edited by Gediminas Urbonas, Ann Lui, and Lucas Freeman

The concept of public space is a widely discussed phenomena. The more professionals get involved in it, the more it expands Public Space? Lost and Found combines significant recent projects in art and architecture with writings by historians and theorists, and documents how critical spatial practices have expanded the concept far beyond physical spaces. It involves issues in aesthetics, construction, digital media, ecological crises, and civic uprisings.