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For Fall, 1998 we have started a new page of reviews with two new books. With Fall comes the opening of the theater season. Martin Bloom's Accommodating the Lively Arts may open your eyes to more than just what is happening on stage. The season also means Halloween...What better way to enjoy the night of ghouls and goblins than curled up with Going Out In Style: The Architecture of Eternity. Enjoy.

You can see previously recommended selections Here.


Accommodating the Lively Arts : An Architect's View by Martin Bloom.   "It is one of the theatre's greatest ironies," playwright and critic Charles Marowitz says in introducing Bloom's fine book, "that those who design its stages and auditoria . . . are very often baboons when it comes to creating a space in which actors and audience can happily cohabit." Architect Bloom hopes to rectify that sad state of affairs by focusing on all aspects of theater design: types of stages, ways of arranging the audience, and the advantages and disadvantages of each. He also provides, with plenty of accompanying illustrations, an interesting history of performance spaces from the theater's earliest times, when a smooth, flat surface was enough, to the magnificent palaces built in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries. Written in a spare, dry style clearly not appealing to just any reader, Bloom's effort is yet, for anyone interested in theater design or who is planning to renovate or build an auditorium, a vital source of information.

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Going Out in Style : The Architecture of Eternity by Douglas Keister, Xavier Cronin (Contributor).   Going Out in Style: The Architecture of Eternity provides an engaging and at times surprising look at America's forgotten architecture: the mausoleum.

Elegant, full-color photographs display the grandeur of the mausoleum, documenting the work of some of America's most noted architects and in some cases the only remaining examples of a particular architect's work. Additionally, photographs of the interiors of some mausoleums show rarely seen Tiffany stained-glass windows. Going Out in Style takes readers into beautiful and historic cemeteries in such cities as New York, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Boston, Chicago, New Orleans, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and many others. Intriguing captions, which accompany each photograph, reveal the story behind the structure, including: A description of the architectural style, The life of the person or family whose monument is depicted, Anecdotes and background information, and Location. From Classical to Egyptian Revival, mausoleums assume many different architectural forms and represent a time capsule to a specific period of our history.

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Chairman: Rolf Fehlbaum by Tibor Kalman.   In the beginning people spent their days walking upright and their nights lying down. Eventually someone invented sitting. And chairs. Chairs evolved...and multiplied. A million years (give or take) pass. A boy named Rolf is born into a family in Basel that builds shops. Their neighbors make cheese and chocolate. 1953: Rolf's father, Wili Fehlbaum, goes to America and sees a chair that blows his mind. It is by Charles and Ray Eames.

Thus begins Chairman, a poetic and humorous true story about Swiss enterpreneur Rolf Fehlbaum and his internationally known furniture design company, Vitra. Acclaimed graphic designer Tibor Kalman's 600-page pictorial essay tells the story of chair design, from the invention of the chair to the success story of Vitra.

The company developed a strategy of fostering collaboration with top architects, including Philippe Starck, Frank Gehry, Tadao Ando, Alvaro Siza, Zaha Hadid, and, of course, Charles and Ray Eames; work by these designers appears alongside chairs designed by Marcel Breuer, Gerrit Rietveld, Le Corbusier, Josef Hoffmann, Eero Saarinen, Isamu Noguchi, and Mies van der Rohe. This whimsical book, loaded with color illustrations, will knock you off your seat!

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Set Phasers on Stun : And Other True Tales of Design, Technology, and Human Error by Steven Casey.   A disturbing share of technological disasters are caused by incompatibilities between the way things are designed and the way people actually perceive, think, and act. Structurally sound aircraft plummet to the earth, supertankers run aground in calm weather, and the machines of medical science maim unsuspecting patients - - all because designers sometimes fail to reflect the characteristics of the user in their designs.

Designers and the public alike are realizing that many human errors are more aptly named 'designed-induced' errors. Most consumers experience the frustration of using many new products; amusing stories about programming a VCR, operating a personal computer, or finding the headlight switch on a rental car are heard in everyday conversation. The problems consumers experience with modern everyday things are shared by the users of large-scale technologies where the consequences of design can go well beyond simple matters of inconvenience or amusement.

In the new second edition of Set Phasers on Stun' and Other True Tales of Design, Technology, and Human Error, noted designer and author Steven Casey has assembled 20 factual and arresting stories about people and their attempts to use modern technological creations. Although the operator or pilot usually gets blamed for a big disaster, the root cause can frequently be found in subtle characteristics of the device's human interface.' Technological disasters can often be traced directly to the interplay between people and the design of a device - - be it an airliner cockpit, the controls in an industrial plant, a spacecraft's instruments, a medical system, a nuclear reactor, or even a commercial dishwashing machine.

The most effective way to convey the consequences of design-induced human error is with a good story and just the right level of technical detail, and this is what Casey has done in his new book. As stated by Alphonse Chapanis, one of the founders of the human factors engineering discipline, Set Phasers on Stun is a tour de force. A collection of gripping and often alarming true stories meticulously documented and skillfully told about design-induced human errors. It should be required reading for all engineers and designers, and everyone else concerned about the ways our modern technological creations can affect our everyday lives. Skylab-4 astronaut Gerald Carr agrees: The book is "...an engrossing tour through the world of human susceptibility to subtle variations in environment and in design."

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Corporate Interiors by Stanley Abercrombie       Collection of corporate design projects - showing the evolution of the workplace in the information age. Less of a reference work than an emporium of ideas, Corporate Interiors gives the reader or casual browser an overview of design trends in corporate America and provides a springboard for effective communication between decision makers and their architects.

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