Book Reviews
Books New to the Shelves of the CLUI Library

Bldgblog Book
by Geoff Manaugh, Chronicle Books, 2009
Great to have an non-online version of some of the greatest hits of Bldgblog, to be enjoyed while in places without an internet connection. Not all blogs should be books, that’s for sure, but this blog, about the outer reaches of architecture and landscape phenomenology, could be several, so far. In fact, the whole thing should be printed out and buried someplace, in case there is some kind of electromagnetic pulse that knocks out the infosphere. Add that to your to-do list, Geoff!

Jackrabbit Homestead: Tracing the Small Tract Act in the Southern California Landscape 1938-2008
by Kim Stringfellow, Center for American Places, 2009
Finally someone does a book about these hundreds of tiny little cabins, built mostly in the 1940’s and 1950s, rotting away in the region near Joshua Tree, in the Morongo Basin. While there have been some photo projects that have touched on them, like John Divola’s Isolated Houses, Stringfellow provides some essential text describing how they came to be, as well as images depicting their current state of disintegration, in a taxinomical way, similar to her previous book, in the same format, about the Salton Sea. She has become the regional queen of desiccated desert rot.

Stories in Stone
by David B. Williams, Walker, 2009
Nice book about quarrying, from the facades backwards. Makes some wonderful connections between buildings, and their sources, and the dimensional stone industry in general. Ends up, as such things must, it seems, at the Getty Center, where fossil-embedded travertine is hung on the exterior walls as if it was a display of geologic hieroglyphics.

by Edward Burtynsky, Steidl, 2009
Burtynsky’s epic $128 Steidl book of his Corcoran exhibit covers a lot of ground. Sure the aircraft boneyards of Arizona, and the franchise-scapes of the Pennsylvania turnpike are about oil in some respects, but it’s the images of the oil fields that really stand out, are on subject, and are maximally sublime. Burtynsky is a still photographer working on the level of a film production, with location scouts, pre-production crews, cranes, and gyroscopically stabilized helicopter platforms.

Tattered Fragments of the Map
Edited by Adam Katz and Brian Rosa, 2009
Nice thin book from the exhibit Photocartographies, with contributions by Denis Wood, Anthony Auerbach, Bill Brown, Bill Fox, Herbert Gottfried, and others.

Camps: A Guide to 21st-Century Space
by Charlie Hailey, The MIT Press, 2009
All things campy, composed of about a hundred examples, and covering everything from Camp David, to Meme Camps, from the permanent to provisional, and divided into three sections: Autonomy, Control, and Necessity. Camp Out!

Canal Terminology of the United States
by Thomas Swiftwater Hahn and Emory L. Kemp, West Virginia University, 1998
The canal system of the USA is like the infrastructure of some ancient, alien, aqueous world. Its hard to believe the extent of the digging that went on before trains made the moving of goods so much easier. This book, while essentially an A-Z dictionary of terms, is well and simply illustrated, spanning the subject with a practical depiction that conveys this bygone technology more vividly than most historic accounts, and brings it into the present, where these structures still remain.

The City’s End: Two Centuries of Fantasies, Fears, and Premonitions of New York’s Destruction
by Max Page, Yale University Press, 2008
Though a certain (East coast) comfort sets in when depictions of Los Angeles’ destruction occurs in film and other fictional accounts, it is of course New York City that has been destroyed more often then any other city in the USA, fictionally speaking. The question is not why, as it’s simply the biggest city and the most claustrophobic, but how. This book offers a wide view of the many attacks on this city, including the few that made it past the barrier of fantasy.

The Fabric of America, by Andro Linklater
Walker, 2007
A historical account of surveying and boundary defining within the United States, primarily following the work of the early surveyor Andrew Ellicott. An important look at the fundamentals of the perimeterscape of the USA, and an under-recognized pioneer and master of terrestrial delineation.

White Elephants
by Christian Helmle Jovis, 2007
The Swiss photographer’s contemporary images of monumental empty unused architecture and infrastructure in Europe. Mostly ill-conceived state projects that were obsolete before or soon after completion. Some humdingers in here.

New Geographies: Landscapes of Energy
Harvard University Press, 2009
This edition of the academic journal explores the spatial characteristics of energy, and among the many interesting articles is a very nicely done version of the CLUI’s Trans-Alaska Pipeline documentary project. New Geographies is the biannual journal of Design, Agency, Territory, founded and produced by doctoral candidates of the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University.

Radical Nature: Art and Architecture for a Changing Planet 1969-2009
Koenig Books, 2009
Catalogue of the exhibit which originated in the Barbican, London. The CLUI participated with our photoscape presentation on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, and other images. Other than that, the show was a great compendium of land/earth/art, without being too formal, or too eco.

Something Incredibly Wonderful Happens: Frank Oppenheimer and the World He Made Up
by K.C. Cole, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009
Frank, brother of Robert, also worked on the bomb at Los Alamos. After a sort of exile, due to the political fallout that enveloped him and his brother, Frank emerged from the hills of southern Colorado to create one of the most principled and innovative institutions in the world, that “woods of natural phenomena,” the Exploratorium, in San Francisco. This is the essential book that describes the man, and explains how this incredibly wonderful thing happened.