Armchair Architecture by ProQuest


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									                                                                                                    Irene E. McDermott

INTERNET EXPRESS                                                                       Reference Librarian/Systems Manager
                                                                                     Crowell Public Library, City of San Marino

Building Design on the Web
To enter Diagon Ally, the London shopping street for all things wizard in
J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, one taps a magic wand on a brick wall.
An opening magically appears, revealing the bustling lane winding beyond.
When my son and I visited London for the first time last year, we found
that what we supposed was Rowling’s invention was in fact an accurate
description for our experience of the old town. As the tour bus shepherded
us along main routes, we caught glimpses through gates of twisted burrows
or warrens lined with shops and apartments. These alleys seemed to appear
as if by magic, just as in Rowling’s books. The curving streets shortened
our perspective and made it seem as if we were peering at the distinctive
London architecture through a hole in a panoramic Easter egg.

P    aris was another revelation. Our guide explained that,
     in the 1860s, the medieval city had been leveled and re-
placed by broad boulevards and neoclassical bourgeois
                                                                  chitects to make connections be-
                                                                  tween contemporaries. Browse
                                                                  “Architectural Types” includ-
housing by Georges-Eugène Haussmann, prefect under                ing styles and construction
Napoleon III. So, the unified beauty of Paris, far from being     types. Entries show photos
an accident, was in fact carefully planned and dearly bought.     and information about the
   Architecture creates environment and shapes our expe-          structure and the archi-
rience of place. If we can’t travel the world to explore archi-   tect. This is a great starting
tecture in person, we can perhaps use the web to get a feel-      point to explore the history
ing for its creations.                                            of architecture.

History of Architecture                                           Built in America: Historic American Buildings Survey
   Today’s architecture springs from its past. Explore (most-
ly Western) building design history with these links.                The Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Con-
                                                                  gress has mounted this database from its Historic American
Great Buildings Online                                            Buildings Survey (HABS) and Historic American Engineering                                     Record (HAER) collections. Search by keyword to find large-
   Architecture Week magazine hosts this eminently search-        format, black-and-white photos of such diverse treasures as
able database of information about architecturally important      the Pueblo of Acoma in New Mexico and Frank Lloyd Wright’s
structures from across the globe. Search by place name or by      Frederick C. Robie House in Chicago. There are measured
the name of the building or architect. See the timeline
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