Immaterial World: Transparency in Architecture
by Marc Kristal
(Monacelli Press, New York. $45)
Rare is the book that makes one look at buildings in an entirely fresh way, but Mark Kristal has achieved that goal in this critical study of 25 diverse structures from around the world. They range in size from the rotated plywood boxes of UNI’s XSmall House in Massachusetts (which was built for $80/square feet) to Maximiliano Fuksas’s 2.1 million-square-foot Fiera Milano. What links these and the other projects is an inventive balance of transparency and opacity, openness and privacy. Kristal explores issues of sustainability and response to site, and the way each building is tailored to the needs of its users. Conversations with project architects, drawings, and carefully selected photographs are woven together in a seamless fashion, allowing the reader to make intelligent comparisons between buildings that seem to be unrelated. Examples include familiar work by L.A. architects, together with inventive responses to the permafrost of the Arctic and the searing heat of the Persian Gulf. Together, they provide inspiration for architects, aficionados, and clients who would like to move beyond the conventional. -Michael Webb
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