We are living in one of the most dramatic periods in modern architectural history: a time when cityscapes are being redrawn on a yearly basis, architects are testing the very idea of what a building is, and whole cities are invented overnight. In this bold and wide- ranging new work, Rowan Moore—former director of the Architecture Foundation, now a leading architecture critic—explores the reasons behind these changes in our built environment, and how they change the way we live in the world.
Provocative and personal, iconoclastic and transforming, Why We Build is that rarest of things: a book about architecture that is also, on every page, a book about people—those chosen few who design buildings, and the rest of us, who use them every day.
About the Author
Rowan Moore is the architecture critic for The Observer (London); he previously held the same post for The Evening Standard. From 2002 to 2008 he was the director of the Architecture Foundation. In 2013, he was named Critic of the Year by the Society of Editors (UK). A trained architect himself, he lives in London.
“[A] lively account. . . Moore’s deftly chosen and analyzed examples range from Alberti’s Tempio Malatestiano and Jamaa el Fna “square” in Marrakesh to Manhattan’s High Line. This is a highly engaging. . . vision of architecture’s emotive and pragmatic powers.”
— Publishers Weekly
“Thoughtful and elegantly written, Why We Build will appeal to anyone with an interest in architecture, and the egos, power struggles and human relationships behind the creation of our surroundings.”
— The Spectator
“Intelligent and cultured... Astringent and subtle.”
— The Independent
“With unfailingly fresh insight. Moore decrypts the ideological narratives of buildings with the same fluency he brings to bear on materials, forms and spaces: today’s architectural criticism rarely seems so humane or intelligent.”
— Sunday Telegraph
“A fascinating work of love, intellectual curiosity and endurance…Suggest[s] the possibility of a more grown-up and subtle way of thinking about our architecture.
— Literary Review
“Supremely ambitious…[Moore] writes with economy, clarity and wit. The prospect of 400 pages in his presence is not an unhappy one.”
— Building Design
“Studious and serious, with meaningful insights on where we are going in the future. . . . In today’s world of flip journalism, Rowan Moore is refreshing.”
— Frank Gehry
“A vivid account. . . Stimulat[es] the reader.”
— Wall Street Journal
“Rowan Moore. . . can build: He is trained in the craft himself. He also knows how to write descriptively and deliciously. . . An engaging, joyous read. . . Moore’s writing is lithe and sensual. . . His delight in the subject is everywhere and infectious.”
— Cleveland Plain Dealer
“[A] lively, wide-ranging and thought-provoking new book . . . . Devastatingly funny if deeply disturbing. . . . No other newspaper architecture critic [is] as sharp an assessor of the built environment as Moore.”
— New York Review of Books