The Great Builders surveys the careers of forty great architects whose engineering skills were crucial to their success. Sixteen nationalities and seven centuries of architectural innovation make for a survey of spectacular scope and depth: from churches and fortresses to bridges and high-tech skyscrapers, it includes masterpieces from all over the world and covers 700 years of architectural history.
Here is Brunelleschi, who built the ‘unbuildable’ dome of Florence Cathedral; Sinan, a Christian engineer who became chief architect to the Ottoman court; Joseph Paxton, scribbling down a design for the Crystal Palace, London, on a piece of blotting paper; and James Bogardus, an early American evangelist of the opportunities offered by cast-iron architecture.
Rapid advances in industrial production inspired experiments with new materials and techniques, gradually allowing a whole new architecture to emerge: reinforced concrete, plate glass and steel were central to the creations of Le Corbusier, Auguste Perret and Mies van der Rohe, for instance; and, in the High-Tech architecture of the present day – represented by Norman Foster, Frank Gehry and Santiago Calatrava, among others – computer-aided design has seemingly tested the boundaries of the possible.
'The story that these 40 anecdotes tell is captivating ... [this] is a rare book that treats architecture as an expression of structural science in the hands of artists' - New York Journal of Books
'[An] excellent study of architecture’s most outstanding exponents ' - Burlington Magazine
About the Author
Kenneth Powell is an architectural historian, critic and consultant. He has written extensively on 20th-century and contemporary British architecture, and is the author of books on the work of Norman Foster, Richard Rogers and other major British architects. He is an honorary fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects and has served on the Council of the Architectural Association.