A Field Guide to American Houses

A Field Guide to American Houses

The Definitive Guide to Identifying and Understanding America's Domestic Architecture

Book - 2013
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A comprehensive guide to domestic architecture. Focusing on dwellings in urban and suburban neighborhoods and rural locations all across the continental United States, this guide provides in-depth information on the essentials, with facts and frames of reference that will enable you to look in a fresh way at the houses around you.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, c2013.
Edition: Revised and expanded ed.
ISBN: 9781400043590
Branch Call Number: 728 MCA
Characteristics: xxv, 848 p. : ill. ; 27 cm.


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Apr 12, 2018

Ok, I admit it. I cherish a sick pride in having read each of the 850 pages in Virginia McAlester's magnum opus.

Unfortunately, I still can't tell the difference between many of these house styles, even with the author's patient guidance. Italianate or Italian Renaissance? Classical revival vs. Greek revival vs. Neoclassical? And please, I need help with mullions, muntins and lintels - aren't those small shellfish, not parts of windows?

Even after slowly digesting this book over the course of four years, I'm lucky if I can spot an architecture gimme, like half-timbering or a Tudor gable.

However, eating all these architectural veggies has its payoff: the dessert course, aka the chapter on McMansions. After following the author on a tour of thousands of houses, you learn enough to snark along with her. "Look at that Millenium Mansion. What a beauty. Multiple cascading hipped roofs?! You gotta be kidding me!!"


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