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Architecture and the 'Special Relationship': The American influence on post-war British architecture
This major book provides the first in-depth account of America’s influence on British architecture and urbanism. The story begins in the mid-nineteenth century but focuses on the intensified transatlantic interchange after the Second World War. Rejecting crude terms like ‘Americanization’, the book reveals instead many strands of influence in which the creation of cultural hybrids became a major preoccupation for British architects. Crucial in spurring hybridization were buildings in Britain by leading US architects such as Eero Saarinen, Gordon Bunshaft, Kevin Roche, and later on Cesar Pelli and Venturi Scott Brown. Drawing on post-colonial theory, it is also the first architectural book to problematize the issue by examining how even a dominant industrialized nation such as Britain was itself subject to colonizing processes. Out of this arose a number of new building types, from office towers to airports to supermarkets and shopping centres, as well as diverse design responses from figures like the Smithsons, Archigram, James Stirling, Norman Foster and Richard Rogers. The argument presented is that cultural interplay with America was the main impetus behind the modernization of British architecture, other influences notwithstanding. Bringing the tale right up to the current era of globalization, when British architects are gaining much work in the USA, it makes for a lively and well-written account. Structured as a series of 7 thematic chapters, the book blends the detailed study of key buildings with a wider analysis of socio-economic and cultural trends. Never before has such a synoptic view been taken of this subject. The book won the 2008 CICA Bruno Zevi Book Prize awarded by the International Committee of Architectural Critics for the best architecture book anywhere in the world in the previous year, and also the 2008 RIBA President’s Award for Outstanding University-Located Research.
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