Wednesday, November 30, 2011
The Heights: Anatomy of a Skyscraper by Kate Ascher
The Heights is a coffee table sized book that is packed full of information about the history, design, construction, maintenance, and future of the skyscraper. It is full of great pictures and graphics. I thought the graphics were particularly well done and a wonderful way for a person to really understand what is going on in the text of the book. From showing how test boring is performed by a geotechnical engineer to how a wind tunnel works, the graphics were fantastic. The graphics are so amazing that my two sons (5 & 3) are also intrigued with this book. They like to flip through and have us read to them about the graphics that particularly intrigue them such as fire safety and construction of the skyscraper. My favorite graphic was actually at the beginning of the book which showed the steady progression of the height of skyscrapers over the past 150 years.
As an engineer, I was very pleased to see that Ms. Asher pointed out that the design and construction of a skyscraper is very much a team effort. Too often architects end up with all of the glory, while the engineers are left in the shade.
I will admit that when I first received The Heights in the mail, my husband was very enthused and looked through the book before I did. He is a structural engineer (I am a water resources engineer) so it is right up his ally. I let him read this book too to give his opinion. He also thought it was very interesting and also very accurate. While Ben designs buildings himself, his company specializes in curtain wall design. What is a curtain wall? The Heights answers that question for you!