Category Archives: library

New Book: Disability, Space, Architecture

Boys, Jos, editor. Disability, Space, Architecture: A Reader. New York, Routledge, 2017.

imagesNew this week is Disability, Space, Architecture: A Reader, edited by Jos Boys.  The book is somewhat interdisciplinary, “exploring the interconnections between disability, architecture and cities…[with contributions from authors in the field of] architecture, geography, anthropology, health studies, English language and literature, rhetoric and composition, art history, disability studies and disability arts and cover personal, theoretical and innovative ideas and work” (Pg. 1).  There is no one argument throughout the book, but rather it seeks to provide an overarching, innovative perspective on disability and how spaces are viewed through that lens.

Disability, Space, Architecture examines the nature and experience of disability itself, and pays particular attention to contrasting it with ability, when appropriate.  Several of the authors are themselves disabled in some form, and the insights they provide to how they view the world and architecture, particularly, differently from others.  The book is organized by themes, including “Theory and Criticism,” “Education,” and “Projects and Practices,” each of which provides an important element for thinking about disability and architecture.  Of particular note is the part on “Projects and Practices” exploring ongoing or planned projects that adapt to the needs of the able and disabled, as well as what could improve in standard practices to better insure inclusivity.  One chapter examines the Ramp House, a home designed by a couple (both architects) for their wheelchair-bound daughter, Greta.  The house is an example of how a space can be disability-friendly without feeling so.  A friend of Greta’s, who is not disabled, explained that the house “is really thoughtful, it doesn’t feel unusual that it has a big ramp instead of stairs and it’s very well designed because it has everything that Greta needs and all the equipment she needs, but it’s not in the way…it’s really bright and spacious…and colorful” (Pg. 261).  The essay goes on to argue that designing a home around a disabled child drastically changes the home and can improve the lives of the family – when a child can do things for themselves, it is less stressful for parents and the child feels more self-sufficient.  The house becomes more inclusive to all and can even make the surrounding community far more aware of the accessibility of spaces.  This essay exemplifies in many ways the stories and other articles in Disability, Space, Architecture, as the article explores a range of issues and features personal stories and experiences that greatly add to the value of the piece.  Many of the essays contain similar aspects, but there is something meaningful about “The Ramp House” piece that makes it stand out among the pieces.

Boys’ and the contributors’ work on the relationship between disability, ability, and architecture is groundbreaking.  Disability, Space, Architecture seeks to view the world through the eyes of disabled individuals, and to reveal the privilege of the able-bodied in something as simple as moving about their home.  When spaces are designed to be inclusive, it undoubtedly improves the quality of life and experiences of everyone, whether disabled or not.  A disability impacts not only the person who is blind, deaf, or wheelchair-bound: it affects everyone around them, particularly family and friends.  To create a space that is welcoming to those with disabilities sends a strong message, especially in a world where moving around a house in a wheelchair can be difficult, or trying to navigate a city as a blind person can be nearly impossible.  The word “disabled” itself can imply that some places or activities are off-limits.  Disability, Space, Architecture seeks to change that.  When spaces, and especially architects, are conscious of the needs of people with disabilities or special needs, the spaces becomes more open and inherently more welcoming.  It is possible, with a little sensitivity, consideration, and a good architect, to turn this inability and disability into an ability.

Come by the Architecture and Planning Library to see the other new books we have this week!

New Books: Relics of the Reich

Philpott, Colin. Relics of the Reich: The Buildings the Nazis Left Behind.
Barnsley, Pen & Sword Books, 2016.

51kejxbQHNL._SX345_BO1,204,203,200_New this week at the Library is Colin Philpott’s 2016 book Relics of the Reich: The Buildings the Nazis Left Behind, a fascinating analysis of Nazi architecture, examining “the physical legacy of the Nazis, their buildings, their structures, and their public spaces” (Pg. x).  The Nazis were strategists, everything carefully calculated to serve their ambitions and hopes of a master race, and this included their buildings, everything from the Reichstag to Berchtesgaden to Dachau Concentration Camp.  Philpott’s book emphasizes just how critical the physical spaces were to the Nazis’ success in maintaining power and committing genocide.

Philpott explores themes in Nazi architecture, including what he calls “establishing the faith,” “enforcement,” “showing off to the world,” “future fantasies,” and “downfall.”  Within each theme he discusses specific buildings that served that purpose.  For example, “showing off to the world” focuses primarily on the 1936 Olympics, the 1937 World’s Fair, and other locations international visitors passed through, such as airports.  Similarly, “future fantasies” discusses the future plans of the Nazis that never came to be due to the escalation of World War II, including a vast plan to forever alter Berlin and rename it “Germania.”  Hitler planned “for Germania as Welthaupstadt (World Capital) of a trimphant Germany…[to represent German] world domination” (Pg. 113).  Philpott describes the plans as being so grand and megalomaniacal as to be absurd. Through these plans, it becomes clear that Hitler had become consumed by his desire for power, and so confident in his control over Germany and ability to dominate other countries by 1939, that these self-aggrandizing plans to essentially renovate the whole of Berlin seemed realistic and inevitable.   But of particular interest is Philpott’s theme on “Holocaust.”  Not only does Philpott highlight the physical spaces of the Holocaust, but he also discusses the ways those spaces and the horrors which took place there have been commemorated.  Philpott points out that some of these memorials were self-serving, especially those built while Germany was split between the Allied powers; the Russians sought to paint Communism as a liberating force that freed victims from Nazi rule, while the American side of Germany produced monuments after facing pressure from survivors to do so.

Countless books have been written on the Third Reich, the genocide it perpetrated, and the lasting impact of a regime that committed unmatched horrors.  There is a tendency to focus on the terrors of the Holocaust, and rightly so, but to better understand the Holocaust, one must also seek to understand other aspects of what the Nazis sought to achieve.  Adolf Hitler and his colleagues hoped to build a master race, eliminating Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, and the mentally disabled in order to build the Aryan society of which they dreamed.  Thus, the systematic murder of six million people became a priority for the Nazi regime.  But the development of this master race also included building, as well as destruction and murder.  It required the building of concentration camps to house the people they planned to murder, the construction of ghettos before Jews were forced into train cars like cattle, they had to build the gas chambers and the crematoriums, and there had to be new government buildings to symbolize the new era.  This physical, architectural element was crucial to the Third Reich’s plans for their “Final Solution” and the world they tried (and failed) to build.  Everything they did, everything they built was coldly calculated to serve those interests.

The systematic murder of six million people is an atrocity that remains somewhat incomprehensible.  For all the books, the studies, and the conversations, there is something about understanding the Holocaust that remains elusive because of the sheer scope of it.  The questions that keep recurring involve the unanswerable: why?  Why did Hitler and the Reich murder millions of people?  Why did so many Germans do and say nothing?  We have some answers to these questions, but they will never be complete, and they will never be enough to make up for the six million lives taken. But by examining what the Nazis built, and the careful planning required to carry out their Final Solution, Philpott’s Relics of the Reich provides more answers – and more questions.  The Holocaust, if possible, becomes worse in a way because of the cruelty and coldness evident in the planning of the gas chambers, crematoriums, and concentration camps, as well as the callous and narcissistic ways in which the Third Reich planned Germany’s future as it carried out mass murder.  And so, we have more “whys.”  Why did the Nazis feel so little empathy and so little respect for human lives (those who did not fit their vision of the Aryan race) that they felt compelled and justified in committing genocide?  Why did no one speak out when the crematoriums were built, especially when locals could smell the burning bodies?  Why would they plan to renovate the whole of Berlin while millions were dying in the gas chambers?  You can ask “why” over and over and over again. There will never be an answer, at least not a satisfactory one, but the answer is nonetheless worth the seeking.  And, perhaps surprisingly, the physical spaces built by the Nazis play an important role in discovering answers to the mysterious, tragic “whys” of the Holocaust.

New Books: Building Zion and The Optimum Imperative

There are so many amazing news books at the Architecture and Planning Library this week, one book just was not enough to feature in a blog post.  So this week’s highlights are Building Zion: The Material World of Mormon Settlement by Thomas Carter, and The Optimum Imperative: Czech Architecture for the Socialist Lifestyle, 1938-1968 by Ana Miljacki.

Carter’s Building Zion explores the differences and continuities between traditional American architecture and Mormon architecture, as well as the drastic contrast in style between Mormon temples Building Zion - Coverand Mormon homes.  Carter’s book reveals a fascinating conundrum: Mormon temples are designed to stand out, while Mormon homes are meant to blend in with a typical family home in the United States.  The temple is a physical representation of the uniqueness of the Mormon faith, yet the home downplays the polygamous nature of some Mormon families.  Carter also explores that even though the homes of Mormons in Utah were designed to house a larger family, sometimes with each wife living in a wing with their children, the homes are surprisingly typical in style and size. This reflects the desire of many Mormon families to fit in.  Before migrating to Utah, Mormons were sometimes ostracized or even persecuted in their communities; considering this history, it is perfectly understandable that Mormons would seek to stand out as little as possible in their family life, as it was polygamy that bothered many opponents of the faith.  So then, why make the temples stand out so?  This is exactly what Carter explores in Building Zion, as well as the realities of daily life in Mormon settlements.

Miljacki writes on a completely different topic in The Optimum Imperative: Czech architecture from 1938 (when the nation, then called Slovakia, was divided between Hungary, Germany, and The Optimum Imperative - CoverPoland) to 1968 (the time of the Prague Spring, when Czechoslovakia began to liberalize and the Soviet Union invaded to regain control).  This is a particularly fascinating time in Czech history, and Miljacki examines how the architecture reflected socialist ideals.  Miljacki is not kind to the theory or reality of socialism, arguing that the architecture of the Soviet Union years reinforced and physically imposed socialism, class struggles, and Soviet control on the Czech people.  Following the dissolution of Czechoslovakia and establishment of the Czech Republic, there was a renewed emphasis on Czech heritage and culture, presumably architecture, too.  Though The Optimum Imperative does not explore beyond 1968, Miljacki provides the necessary context and background to better understand modern trends in the country and its strong dislike of all things Russian.

While seemingly unrelated, Building Zion and The Optimum Imperative both discuss, broadly, the importance of architecture as an expression of control and culture.  For Mormons, while it was critical to them to deemphasize the distinctive nature (to outsiders, the “otherness”) of their large families and polygamous marriages, the temple was an opportunity to physically express that otherness without judgment as a place of worship.  The Soviet Union used architecture to reinforce the values of socialism, and thereby their control over Czechoslovakia, which later led to a return of Czech tradition.  In both cases, architecture served as an opportunity for cultural expression and as a means of giving the appearance of normality to atypical situations.

New Books: Narrative Architecture

De Bleeckere, Sylvain, and Sebastiaan Gerards. Narrative Architecture: A Designer’s Story. New York, Routledge, 2017.

Narrative Architecture - CoverNew to the Architecture Library this week is Sylvain De Bleeckere and Sebastiaan Gerards’ Narrative Architecture: A Designer’s Story.  Focusing on four themes (thinking, imagining, educating, and designing), Narrative Architecture explores the underlying meanings of architecture, and the acts of thinking, listening, and learning that go into designing.

Bleeckere and Gerards explain that the book “is a designer’s story in which our personal experiences in our school of architecture, our critical study of some important texts…and our analysis of some paradigmatic artworks and films are rhizomatically interwoven” (pg. 3).  They also examine how “it seems that architecture can speak and act like human actors do” (pg. 1).  In each of the four chapters are summaries of major relevant philosophical works and theories, providing context and philosophical backing to prove the importance of each theme.  By approaching the subject from this angle, Bleeckere and Gerards can better understand the motivations of architects, the thought that goes into the buildings they design, and what can be learned from the buildings themselves.

Narrative Architecture, ultimately, portrays architecture as a kind of storytelling, with architects as the storytellers.  Every individual and every building had something to say.  It is crucial to not only question what the architect reveals about the building, but what the building reveals about the architect, as well.  The historical context of the architect, the space, and the building can unveil so much more than traditionally thought.  If we let a building slowly divulge its narrative, then we too become a part of the story.

New Book: Architects’ Homes

Patch, Bethany, editor. Architects’ Homes. Victoria, The Images Publishing Group, 2017.

Architects' Homes - Cover pageBethany Patch’s Architects’ Homes examines the homes architects build for themselves, arguing that “architects use the design of their own homes both as a design experiment and as a representation of their own beliefs and ideals” (pg. 7).  The book contains what Patch believes to be “a small segment of the designs that result from a successful collaboration between the architect as the designer and the architect as the owner” (pg. 9).

Architects’ Homes contains photographs and descriptions of the homes, including the materials used and the architects’ wants and needs.  The styles and locations of the home vary widely.  Many of the homes have distinctive tastes and serve as family homes while also being pieces of art, in a sense.  The architects have put themselves into these projects in a way they cannot in their work for clients.  As both architect and client, the owners of these homes have taken great care in the materials, layouts, and elements they include in their plans.  Most of the homes are also well-suited to their surroundings.  For example, the McKinley Resident in Southern California, owned and designed by David Hertz, fits nicely into its context.  It is at once modern and modular with elements of a traditional beach house.  There is an outdoor shower to use after going to the beach, as well as countless windows “to take advantage of the abundant Californian light and cool ocean breeze” (pg. 108). In keeping with California priorities, the house includes recycled woods and runs on solar energy for electricity, hot water, and heating (there is no air conditioning because of the cross-ventilation created by all the windows).  Many of the houses similarly fit into their environments and locations, while also being distinctive for the architect’s particular tastes.

Providing an in-depth look at the homes architects design for themselves, Architects’ Homes supplies insights into architects’ processes and personal tastes.  While the job of the architect is to serve the client, how does that change when the architect is the client?  Does it make the process more difficult or easier?  How do their priorities and styles differ when it comes to their own homes?  These are fascinating questions raised by Architects’ Homes which the book only begins to explore, but there can be little doubt as to the uniqueness of these buildings and the fact that, to the architects, they are much more than any other house they might design – they are home.

New Book: Building Histories

Rajagopalan, Mrinalini. Building Histories: The Archival and Affective Lives of Five Monuments in Modern Delhi. Chicago, The University of Chicago Press, 2016.

Mrinalini Rajagopalan’s 2016Rajagopalan - Cover book Building Histories: The Archival and Affective Lives of Five Monuments in Modern Delhi examines the “modern lives, from the mid-nineteenth century to the late twentieth century, of Islamic monuments of Delhi, originally built between the twelfth and seventeenth centuries”: the Red Fort, Rasul Numa Dargah, the Jama Masjid, the Purana Qila, and the Qutb Complex (pg. 2).  Rajagopalan’s main interest is in the state-led projects of preserving these monuments, so she explores the bias present in the selection of these monuments and the historical narratives they support, which is then reflected in the archival representation.  She seeks to complicate and challenge these narratives to develop “new conceptual histories of the Indian monument” (pg. 2).

For each of the five monuments, Rajagopalan explores the architectural history, preservation history, and the master narratives surrounding them.  In each chapter there is a discussion of these features, as well as the role of colonialism in shaping these sites and how they were used by the British to retain their power.  In the chapter on the Purana Qila, for example, reveals the combating narratives surrounding the ancient palace: in one the palace was built by the first Mughal emperor of Delhi (and added onto by later Suri rulers), while the other suggests that the palace was the capitol mentioned in a Hindu epic, Mahabharata.  Despite the truth of the first narrative, the preferred story in India is the second, an urban legend that Indraprastha, the capitol in the epic, lies beneath Purana Qila.  This story has gone “from myth to history,” as Rajagopalan writes (pg. 124).  How?  Why?  These are exactly the questions which fascinate the author.  She argues that this occurred because of the myth’s popularity among academics, who helped to make the story an important part of Delhi’s history and character, as well as the changing political and cultural landscape of India over the course of centuries.  It became more important in this time of cultural upheaval for Hindus to have an origin story for Delhi, rather than the reality that the site was founded by a Muslim Mughal emperor.  At a time when tensions between Muslims and Hindus reached a zenith, during the Partition of India into India and Pakistan, this myth became ever more embedded in popular conscious, eventually being accepted as history instead of legend.  All five monuments Rajagopalan discusses relate to a similar challenge to the current master narrative surrounding the sites.  In some way, each of the monuments, so carefully preserved, help to perpetuate a narrative which is, at best, misleading.

A trend in historical scholarship in recent years has been to challenge “the master narrative.”  Building Histories is an excellent example of this scholarship.  Rajagopalan carefully examines and researches the narratives of these five monuments, crafting a compelling argument that the master narratives behind the sites served a purpose for someone or some group, whether it be a politician or Hindus.  The title itself reveals a great deal: histories are built.  History is written by the winners, the wealthy, and the powerful.  They are allowed to shape the narrative that is passed on to future generations and mold it to their purposes.  The truth is malleable until historians like Rajagopalan begin to challenge the accepted narrative. Only then can the true history become clear. People think of historians as stuffy old men in bowties lecturing about the ancient world. Truly though, history is one of the most dynamic disciplines to study. The field is constantly changing, with new sources and evidence coming to light, ripe for interpretation and incorporation into the narrative.  In this sense, too, history is built.  But, hopefully, this time it is built to give a voice to those who had previously been silenced, and to provide a more complete story of the past than that told before.  History may have been written by the winners, but it can be rewritten by the newest generation of dynamic, perhaps even bowtie-wearing, historians.

New Book: Counterpreservation

Sandler, Daniela. Counterpreservation: Architectural Decay in Berlin                Since 1989. Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 2016.

In her book Counterpreservation: Architectural Decay in Berlin Since 1989, Daniela Sandler explores the “lively pockets of decay” in Berlin, “teeming with social and cultural activities” (pg. 1).  The Sandler - Counterpreservationbuildings promote “cooperative living initiatives, public interest projects, and thoughtful engagements with history,” and have become an essential element of Berlin (pg. 1).  Sandler argues that counterpreservation is “a distinct phenomenon…not about ruins…[but] rather about ruination, about the state of decay, the process of becoming decrepit” with a fate yet unknown, unlike other ruins of Europe (pg. 4).

Sandler explores these buildings as living projects, cultural centers, sites of memory, and ruins in East Germany.  For example, Sandler discusses how “these cultural centers…represent the vibrant alternative culture and bohemian life that have made the city famous since the postwar era and even before,” especially since the Berlin Wall fell and all that space “appeared to be up for grabs” (pg. 91).  She uses the Haus Schwarzenberg as the main focus of the chapter, showing it to be representative of “this moment of experimentation and spontaneous appropriation of architectural and urban spaces”in the district of Mitte from the 1990s to the present.  Sandler examines the neighborhood of Mitte at large, providing better context to understand Haus Schwarzenberg and its place in Mitte and Berlin.  After being threatened with eviction and with privatization, public intervention and external financial support allowed Haus Schwarzenberg, allowing the coffee shop to promote “a mire diverse, inclusive, and experimental city” (pg. 131).  Following a discussion on the destruction of older buildings and sites, including the Berlin Wall, in contemporary times, Sandler concludes the book with a look backwards at some of Berlin’s most traumatic moments.  The two World Wars and the division of Berlin had lasting effects on the city.  Sandler writes, “historic preservation and restoration, museums, archives, and research are to a certain extent a retrogressive attempt to reverse death and recover what has already passed” (pg. 242).  Instead, Sandler suggests, that even though these buildings may one day fall, they have still made their mark on the city and had a lasting impact on the space and people around them.  Though they may not exist anymore, they will have been, in a way, just the beginning of the story.

What Sandler has done in Counterpreservation is turn historians’ and architects’ pleas for preservation on their heads.  In the United States, there are few old buildings because Americans are always wanting to build something new.  This is not the case in much of Europe, though Berlin stands out from many other historic cities. Because of the damage suffered during World War II bombings, much of Berlin had to be rebuilt from the wreckage.  Many lament this fact, and wish that buildings could be better preserved.  Sandler argues that instead of trying to preserve these buildings forever, we should protect them while we can, appreciate them, incorporate them into our lives, but not work so hard to protect them.  Part of what makes human life so precious is that humans are not immortal, so it is best to live fully.  The same can be said for buildings, per Sandler.  Nothing can be built to last forever – buildings have a lifespan too; much like humans, they have a small, temporary, yet important part to play in a much longer story.

We have this book and so many more new books available this week!  Come enjoy!

New Books: The Fire Station Charleroi

Charleroi Fire Station - CoverSamyn, Philippe, Alain Sabbe, and Hugues Wilquinn. The Fire Station Charleroi. Tielt: Lannoo, 2016. Print.

Philippe Samyn, the architect behind the Charleroi Fire Station in Charleroi, Belgium, partnered with Alain Sabbe and Hugues Wilquinn to write The Fire Station Charleroi.  The book explores the life led by firemen, the design competition for the building, the plans, the design versus the reality, and the sustainability and artistic nature of the project.

The authors begin by describing the life and work of firefighters – the long hours, the dangers they face, and the different rooms in firehouses.  This builds context for the design of the firehouse and the inspiration behind designing such a grand, beautiful space for these hard-working individuals.  With commentary from the architect throughout, the process of designing the firehouse for the competition is described, as well as the changes made during construction.  The firehouse is unique in its shape – the building is circular.  The selection committee “complained of the maneuvering difficulties fire engines and other emergency vehicles would have due to…insufficient space” (pg. 39).  So, Samyn and his colleagues recommended the circular form, with folding doors to allow easy, quick access in and out of the fire station.  Everything about the station, from its location to its shape to the colors selected are meant to provide comfort and easy accessibility.  Throughout the book are photos and drawings which demonstrate the look, functionality, and details of the Charleroi Fire Station.

Oftentimes, fire stations are small buildings, leading to cramped conditions and difficulty in maneuvering firetrucks in and out of the station.  The Charleroi Fire Station presents an alternative to this: a massive, open facility meant to service firefighters’ needs.  These individuals put their lives on the line every day they go to the station – do they not deserve the very best spaces?  Additionally, the circular garage allows for faster departure times for trucks, and the location of Charleroi on a hill provides easy access to roads, leading to a faster response.  In other words, this beautiful space actually produces improvements in job performance, cutting down on time, which can literally be the difference between life and death for an individual.  While projects like Charleroi are expensive and time-consuming, the impact of the project proves that building high quality, functional, beautiful fire stations improves the experience of firefighters and helps them to save lives – is that not worth every penny?

New Book: Architecture and Justice

Simon, Jonathan, et al., editors. Architecture and Justice: Judicial Meanings in the Public Realm. 2013. New York, Routledge, 2016.

Architecture and Justice - CoverSimon and his co-editors explore the architecture related to the judicial system and the connection between justice and architecture to “examine the effects that architecture has on both the place of justice and on individual and collective experiences of judicial processes” (pg. 1).  The book is organized to transition from individual, intimate stories, to more broad commentary.

The first part discusses prisons and prison cells, including their design and the experience of living in prison.  The authors note that the simple lines, the utilitarian austerity give prisons a contemporary feel.  Prisons are naturally boxy places, due to the presence of square cells, and the architecture often reflects the seriousness of the place, adding to the sensation of being trapped. Next, the courthouse and courtroom are explored, including an essay on a “Virtual Court Pilot” in the United Kingdom, which would allow cases to be heard quickly and efficiently.  Courtrooms, like prisons, are meant to convey a sense of seriousness, but without the austerity of prisons; instead they strive to also demonstrate the importance and morality of the judicial system.  The two remaining parts of the book cover more general topics and explorations of justice and architecture, including articles on the spatial aspects of justice and the role of architects and justice in Athenian dramas. This section examines theoretical and big-picture subjects, ending the book on universal themes connecting architecture and justice.

Almost every city in the United States has a local courthouse or city hall, some place where civic duties take place.  It is a place some people hope to never enter.  Beautiful, imposing buildings that remind us of the laws we abide by.  Or in the case of prisons, boxy, modern buildings that warn us against breaking the code.  The architecture itself is meant to express the grandiosity of the justice system, creating an indelible if subtle connection between justice and the architecture representing it.

New Book: World of Malls

Lepik, Andres, and Vera Simone Bader, eds. World of Malls: Architectures of Consumption. Berlin: Hatje Cantz, 2016. Print.

World of MallsAndres Lepik and Vera Simone Bader’s World of Malls: Architectures of Consumption explores the relatively recent development of shopping malls.  With other contributing authors, Lepik and Bader examine examples of malls around the United States, with a focus on their architecture, the connection to consumerism, and the future development of malls.

Bader notes that “as an independent building typology, the shopping mall has not yet gained entry into the history of architecture…[despite] shap[ing] cities worldwide” (pg. 12).  The shopping mall appeared a mere 60 years ago, making it a recent archetype, but one which has spread quickly.  The authors note that malls typically are within an urban area, or just outside the limits, bringing people in to participate in a particular consumer experience.  But do all malls feel and look the same on the inside?  What about the outside?  These are the kinds of issues which World of Malls explores, becoming the first study on malls from an architectural perspective.  One author even makes the argument that “in our increasingly fragmented culture, shopping, which consists of strolling through zones of consumption dotted by occasional purchases, is one of the last conventions we experience as a community” (pg. 237).  Scattered throughout are profiles of malls, featuring photos and descriptions. The book concludes with a piece on the future of malls, advocating for the repurposing of malls which are abandoned, as the buildings are often large and adaptable.

Most people have been to a mall at some point.  They have become central aspects of every day life, serving as a means of consumerism and a form of exercise or entertainment.  Featuring stores for shopping and restaurants for eating, the mall is a social place as much as it is consumerist.  Yet little attention is paid to the buildings and design of these places, as well as how common they have become.  With the advent of online shopping, are malls becoming irrelevant?  What will happen to the buildings if, or when, malls become obsolete?  World of Malls begins exploring such important questions.  But, for now, throngs of people will continue their weekly pilgrimage to their local mall to participate in what has become an American pastime.