American Building, Vol. 2: The Environmental Forces That Shape It

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9780805205039: American Building, Vol. 2: The Environmental Forces That Shape It

Few books have influenced the field of architecture more than American Building: The Environmental Forces That Shape It. Originally published in 1947, it has emerged as a classic work on the relationships among buildings, their inhabitants, and the environment. Now comes the first major revision in over twenty-five years, bringing this essential book completely up to date for a new, more environmentally aware generation of architects and designers.
In this superb volume, James Marston Fitch provides a fundamental theory of buildings. "The ultimate task of architecture," he writes, "is to act in favor of human beings: to interpose itself between people and the natural environment in which they find themselves, in such a way as to remove the gross environmental load from their shoulders." Fitch systematically examines the various aspects of the environment which buildings control for human habitation--air, temperature, light, and sound, even space, time, and gravity. He draws on scientific research to probe deeply into these problems and he sets out the most practical solutions to these and other issues in clear, precise language. Moreover, his analysis runs to the external environment as well, as he explores the impact of buildings on the outside world.
American Building: The Environmental Forces That Shape It broke new ground in the school of thought now known as "green architecture"--the philosophy of designing buildings that require a minimum amount of energy and resources to erect and operate. For this new edition, architect William Bobenhausen has included new information on sustainable design and the latest construction technology, up-to-date statistics, case studies, photographs, and illustrations. This revised edition promises to keep this work at the forefront of our thinking about design and the natural world.

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About the Author:


James Marston Fitch is Professor Emeritus in the School of Architecture at Columbia University and Director Emeritus of its Graduate Program of Historic Preservation, the first of its kind in the United States, which he founded in 1964. He has served as the first curator of Central Park and was an editor of Architectural Forum and House Beautiful. For the last twenty years, he has been Director of Historical Preservation for the New York City-based architectural firm Beyer Blinder Belle, widely acknowledged for their restoration of Ellis Island and Grand Central Terminal. He lives in New York City. William Bobenhausen is an architect and Adjunct Professor at the School of Architecture and Environmental Studies at the City College of New York and at the New jersey Institute of Technology. He is the author of Simplified Design of HVAC Systems in the Parker/Ambrose series. He is Director of Sustainable Design with Steven Winter Associates in Norwalk, CT. He lives in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, where he has served as chairman of the Planning Board and Village Trustee.

Review:

"With unparalleled clarity and admirable concision, James Marston Fitch and William Bobenhausen's brilliant study demystifies the workings of modern American architecture for the lay reader and provides a much-needed corrective to the recent overemphasis on style and theory among archtectural
professionals. The depth of their expertise is matched by a comprehensive view of the built environment that few contemporary experts can equal." --Martin Fuller, Architecture Critic

"The third edition of American Building: Then Environmental Forces that Shape It by James Marston Fitch is a massive achievement, long lloked forward to, with an extensive update by Fitch himself and the younger architect William Bobenhausen. Fitch is one of the maajestic figures on our
scene, educator, architect, scholar, indeed not only one of the fathers of historic preservation education, but also a pioneer of environmental consciousness and climate control. And then there is, in his books, also always the proper concern about the human response." --Adolf K. Placzek, Avery
Librarian Emeritus

"For more than half a century, James Marston Fitch has been convincingly demonstrating that architecture can conjure up a wholly new environment, and that buildings, when we put our minds and hearts to them, can give those minds and hearts a nurturing, sustained, and, yes, loving boost. In
1972 Fitch wrote: 'To free American building from the contradictions which stultify it today, building owner and building consumer must join with all Americans of good will, to build a society of peace, freedom, and plenty. Thus perhaps will they lay the objective basis for a new flowering, both
rich and wide, of a truly democartic esthetic.' The third edition of 'American Building,' which has come along just in time for a new century to embrace it, celebrates the fact that this humane esthetic is becomming a reality. Throughout this dazzling, eloquent book you will see that the flowering
has begun." --Tony Hiss, Visiting scholar at NYU Taub Urban Research center and author of The Experience of Place

"A treasurey of ideas on the environmental issues which have shaped American architecture, our responses to it over time, along with a seriously impressive forecast for the future. Some sixty years in the making, this book...reflects Fitch's awesome insights and abilities to question and
analyze architecture. An interesting, thorough, well-organized and superbly written treatment of a complex and highly relevant topic. This revised and expanded edition breaks new ground again in the topic addressed and in architectual literature in general."--John H. Stubbs, Vice President, World
Monuments Fund, Columbia University

"For over half a century, James Marston Fitch has been a prophet of architectural environmentalism. In this new edition of a classic work, Fitch and Bobenhausen integrate the traditional concerns of building science with new research in ecological design. The opening chapter, on the
intersection of human physiology and architectural technology, is worth the price of admission. In their extended discussion of `green architecture,' Fitch and Bobenhausen make the most sophisticated and convincing argument yet for a `green' architecture."--Dell Upton, University of California,
Berkeley

"The third edition of American Building: The Environmental Forces that Shape It by James Marston Fitch is a massive achievement, long looked forward to, with an extensive update by Fitch himself and the younger architect William Bobenhausen. Fitch is one of the majestic figures on our scene,
educator, architect, scholar, indeed not only one of the fathers of historic preservation education, but also a pioneer of environmental consciousness and climate control. And then there is, in his books, always the proper concern about the human response." -- Adolf K. Placzek, Avery Librarian
Emeritus, Columbia University

"While dealing with many famous buildings American Building beautifully maintains what is, for me, an intellectual equilibrium which gives me enormous pleasure. There is no hype about modern or postmodern, the book is somehow free of all that, and as a result refreshingly brings the subject of
architecture to life. It contains a wealth of information which somehow takes a great step towards the establishment of a neutral and democratic discourse about building and buildings....This beautiful attitude...does so much to help the field of architecture." --Christopher Alexander

"With unparalleled clarity and admirable concision, James Marston Fitch and William Bobenhausen's brilliant study demystifies the workings of modern American architecture for the lay reader and provides a much-needed corrective to recent overemphasis on style and theory among architectural
professionals. The depth of their expertise is matched by a comprehensive view of the built environment that few contemporary experts can equal." -- Martin Filler, Architecture Critic

"Their [the authors'] masterly and surprisingly accessible investigation of the functional aspects of architecture addresses issues that few nonprofessionals consider, though the world would be greatly improved if they did." "With a refreshing lack of ideological bias and awe-inspiring
erudition, he and his co-author roam across a vast terrain, from the effects of lighting on worker productivity to global warming, from the thermal properties of the igloo to the ergonomics of bathroom fixtures." "This book ought to be mandatory reading for every architecture student, as well for
any citizen concerned with raising the quality of the built environment."--Martin Filler, New York Times Book Review

"In an era when buildings are increasingly flimsy, prefab affairs, Fitch's advocacy of green architecture is more relevant than ever."--The Philadelphia Inquirer

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Fitch, James Marston
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