The Poetry of Walls

March 11, 2006 @ 5:08 am | Filed under: Art, Books

039489382401_aa_scmzzzzzzz_Round Buildings, Square Buildings, and Buildings that Wiggle Like a Fish by Philip M. Isaacson. Twelve years ago, this children’s book was my introduction to the study of architecture. I’ve never looked at buildings the same way since.

Isaacson takes the reader on a leisurely, respectful tour of buildings around the world: churches, houses, museums, lighthouses, all kinds of structures, from the humble to the magnificent. In simple, straightforward prose he discusses various architectural concepts such as the impact of building materials, the interplay of light and color, and the significance of roof shape. His stunning photographs turn even the roughest earthen hut into a work of art. His lyrical text helps us see in the pictures what we might otherwise have missed:

“These buildings are part of the Shaker Village at Sabbathday, Maine. On an afternoon in late winter they are warm and creamy, but in December, shadows thrown at them make them look haunted. A building only a few yards away fades into the land on a hazy morning.”

Isaacson is also the author of A Short Walk Around the Pyramids & Through the World of Art, but I think Round Buildings, Square Buildings is the real work of art.


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  1. […] reminded me of Philip Isaacson’s book Round Buildings, Square Buildings, Buildings that Wiggle like a Fish, which showed me ways of looking at buildings that made every building interesting to me, made me […]

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  3. […] Square Buildings, Buildings that Wiggle Like a Fish by Philip M. Isaacson, a book I wrote about in this post long […]