This Is Frank Lloyd Wright by Ian Volner, illustrations by Michael Kirkham | Laurence King | 2016 | Amazon
Frank Lloyd Wright is the first architect to be given the “This Is” treatment from Laurence King, which previously published illustrated biographies on a number of artists: Leonardo da Vinci, Paul Gaugin, and Andy Warhol, to name a few. Writer Ian Volner is paired with illustrator Michael Kirkham, and together they created an accessible biography of the great architect, one that touches on just about every major event and project of his long career. The cover and the short page length (80 pages) make it seem like the book is geared to children, but Volner’s descriptive, info-packed writing is hardly something my eight-year-old daughter could get into – yet. Kirkham’s drawings, which recall Chris Ware at times, help to pull people along on a beautifully told story of an architect who had one of the most captivating lives imaginable.
The Weltanschauung as an Ersatz Gestalt by Jan Turnovsky, edited by Eva Guttmann, Gabriele Kaiser, Claudia Mazanek | Park Books | 2016 | Amazon
Jan Turnovsky was not a name I was familiar with before receiving this book in the mail. A victim of suicide in 1995, the Czech-born Turnovsky attended London’s Architectural Association in the late 1970s and there produced the thesis that this book reprints alongside a German translation (Park Book is based in Zurich). It’s an enigmatic text that fans of theory will appreciate. So will some graphic designers, since the facsimile edition includes the author’s typescript pages, which feature titles and borders formed by repeated “m”s.
What Makes a Great City by Alexander Garvin | Island Press | 2016 | Amazon
Add a question mark to the title of this new book from New York-based planner and educator Alexander Garvin and you have the impetus for the book and the two years of travel and writing that went into it. Without the question mark, the title is a statement, meaning Garvin has answered the question with this book. If the chapters are any indication – Open to Anybody, Attracting and Retaining Market Demand, Sustaining a Habitable Environment, Nurturing and Supporting a Civil Society, etc. – the answers are an almost equal mix of social, economic, and environmental concerns. With so much being written about cities these days, many people will take exception to Garvin’s lack of coverage in Africa, Asia, and South America. This is something Garvin addresses early on, indicating that he traveled to cities he was familiar with rather than trying to grasp new lessons from new (for him) places. So the resulting book is a personal view of cities through his eyes (literally, with most of the photos taken by him) that focuses on the most successful parts of European and North American cities.