Posted February 9, 2011 Atlanta, GA
Teri Nagel, Georgia Tech College of Architecture
Skyscraper: The Politics and Power of Building New York City in the Twentieth Century, by Georgia Tech assistant professor Benjamin Flowers, was selected as a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2010. The Outstanding Title designation is awarded annually to the best academic titles reviewed by the magazine and announced in the January issue.
Choice is published by the American Library Association and is considered a trusted source of news about academic books by librarians and scholars nationwide. More than 35,000 institutions subscribe to Choice, representing nearly every undergraduate college and university library in the United States. Of the approximately 25,000 books annually submitted for consideration to Choice, only 7,000 are reviewed by the magazine. Ten percent of those are selected as Outstanding Academic Titles. In 2010, six Outstanding Academic Titles in the field of Architecture were named.
Book reviews in Choice are written by senior faculty and researchers in each field of specialization and represent a prestigious form of peer-review.
In the March 2010 review of Skyscraper, professor David Sachs wrote, “Flowers (Georgia Institute of Technology) offers a book with value on many levels. He provides a well-researched, perceptive, and entertaining introduction to three important iconic New York buildings: the Empire State Building, the Seagram Building, and the World Trade Center. This volume presents a strong justification for, and demonstration of, a difficult but powerful way of examining buildings. It looks at what the author terms the "temporal dimension" of buildings, exploring the personal, political, social, economic, and symbolic intentions and circumstances surrounding their inception, construction, and critical reception. In comparing the three buildings, Flowers articulates common themes, which play out in different ways in each of the examples, thereby illuminating key issues in the evolution of the building type (skyscrapers) and, more generally, in architectural culture through the mid-20th century. This challenging book raises many perplexing questions and refuses to provide simplistic answers. Informative footnotes, a comprehensive index, and numerous historic photographs complement the text. This work should appeal to a variety of readers—from casual aficionados to serious scholars across a wide range of disciplines.”
In awarding Outstanding Academic Titles, the editors of Choice apply several criteria to reviewed titles:
- overall excellence in presentation and scholarship
- importance relative to other literature in the field
- distinction as a first treatment of a given subject in book or electronic form
- originality or uniqueness of treatment
- value to undergraduate students
- importance in building undergraduate library collections
In addition to the Outstanding Academic Title designation, Skyscraper has been reviewed in a number of other forums including popular and interdisciplinary publications such as Planning Magazine, Publishers Weekly and Civil Engineering:
“A must-read for anyone interested in high-rise construction in the U.S.” —Planning Magazine
“Flowers delves deeply into the larger meanings–architectural, cultural, economic--of the structures in question [and] sheds light on the motives and machinations of the people and organizations that made the structures possible.” —Civil Engineering
“Examining the life and times of New York City's most iconic buildings,...Flowers reveals not only how the city's skyscrapers are inextricably tied to the city's economic booms and busts, planning, and day-to-day functioning but also how the skyscraper 'is a material expression' of social conditions and personal relationships, 'of the course chartered by capital' through urban tribes.” —Publishers Weekly