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The Secret Lives of Buildings

From the Ruins of the Parthenon to the Vegas Strip in Thirteen Stories

The Secret Lives of Buildings by Edward Hollis
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A strikingly original, beautifully narrated history of Western architecture and the cultural transformations that it represents

Concrete, marble, steel, brick: little else made by human hands seems as stable, as immutable, as a building. Yet the life of any structure is neither fixed nor timeless. Outliving their original contexts and purposes, buildings are forced to adapt to each succeeding age. To survive, they must become shape-shifters.

In an inspired refashioning of architectural history, Edward Hollis recounts more than a dozen stories of such metamorphosis, highlighting the way in which even the most familiar structures all change over time into "something rich and strange." The Parthenon, that epitome of a ruined temple, was for centuries a working church and then a mosque; the cathedral of Notre Dame was "restored" to a design that none of its original makers would have recognized. Remains of the Berlin Wall, meanwhile, which was once gleefully smashed and bulldozed, are now treated as precious relics.

With The Secret Lives of Buildings, Edward Hollis recounts the most enthralling of these metamorphoses and shows how buildings have come to embody the history of Western culture.

Henry Holt and Co.; November 2009
352 pages; ISBN 9781429982108
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Title: The Secret Lives of Buildings
Author: Edward Hollis
 
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The Secret Lives of Buildings - Financial Times
Fri, 04 Sep 2009 18:30:10 -0700
The Secret Lives of BuildingsFinancial TimesWe shape our buildings,” as Churchill famously said; “thereafter they shape us”. ...
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From Venice to Vegas: The Back Stories of Buildings - The New York Review of Books (blog)
Fri, 21 May 2010 07:25:03 -0700
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ISBNs
9780312655365
9781429982108