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Friday, August 29, 2014

Traveling Through Architecture

If I had chosen other career paths, I know being an architect or a photographer would have been tops on the list. The latter is possible in an amateurish way as I document what I observe and encounter in life's journey. The former is what causes me to marvel when I visit new places, what I imagine in my mind, and what I sometimes envision in my nighttime dreams.

Reading The Story of Building by Patrick Dillon has immersed me in the history of architecture via a timeline of buildings, styles, and placed. Subtitled From the Pyramids to the Sydney Opera House, it encompasses the various structures that allowed buildings to soar, let in light and air, and serve functional purposes. Stephen Biesty's cross-section artwork pulls apart the platforms, arches, beams, and inner-working elements to reveal how the buildings remained intact and how they served users. Side panels taught me about the classical orders (Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, Tuscan), arches, domes, the Middle Ages, cantilevers (used in the Forbidden City), symmetry, geometry, pattern, and reinforced concrete. Every inquiry that formed in my mind was answered a paragraph or page later in the text! I visited places I have seen (and now wish to revisit) and places I wish I could see in person. 

Most engaging was how I traveled in time and style from the Pyramid of Djoser in Egypt to the Parthenon to the Hagia Sophia to Notre Dame and on to the 21st Century's straw bale house in London. The last few pages of the book provide the index above the detailed timeline of architectural events, discoveries, and trends. Readers will appreciate the wrtier's engaging style and be captivated by the illustrations. I look forward to reading chapters aloud and challenging them to consider what they observe and perhaps even how they want to live.


  1. Sounds like a fascinating book that I, too, would like. I'm sure that I would have been happy as a photojournalist.

  2. I think you are a Renaissance Woman, Jewel, & if you had chosen architect (or if it had chosen you), you would be immersed in it. Being in the book world, we get to chose so many things in this one lifetime! Lovely photo...