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BOOK REVIEW

TITLE: ARCHITECTURE AS A RESPONSE


SUBTITLE: PRESERVING THE PAST, DESIGNING FOR THE FUTURE
AUTHOR: NORA RICHTER GREER
PUBLISHER: ROCKPORT PUBLISHERS INC., MASSACHUSETTS
YEAR OF PUBLISHING: 1998
EDITION: FIRST

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Nora Richter Greer is a freelance writer living in Washington DC. Previously, she was senior
Editor at Architecture magazine and Editor of the National Trust for Historic Preservations
Forum magazine. She is the author of two books on housing the homeless, The Search for
Shelter and The Creation of Shelter.
She graduated from Connecticut College, received a Masters degree of Science in Journalism
from North-western University and a Masters degree of Arts in Creative Writing from John
Hopkins University.

REASON FOR SELECTION:


The book is based on one of the most renowned firms in America with a rich history of
architectural design and work which responds to the context it is placed in, and as such can be
an interesting guide for learning architects to take inspiration from an incorporate into their
own work.

OVERVIEW:
This book is a collection and in-depth analysis of the various works done by the firm, Einhorn
Yaffee Prescott, their design philosophy, technique and solution finding mechanisms. Also
discussed is their commitment towards creating unique architectural solutions that seamlessly
meld the aesthetic and the pragmatic, while meeting the clients requirement.
BOOK REVIEW: ARCHITECTURE AS A RESPONSE

RISHAAD A AMLANI

INTENT OF AUTHOR:
To document the various works of Einhorn Yaffee Prescott, their design process and philosophy
and to critically analyze it with the help of other renowned experts and also the users of the
design, thereby giving the reader an insight into how to design according to the context and
surrounding, while retaining its own individual character.

INTRODUCTION:
Few architectural and engineering firms have worked on as many historical structures as
Einhorn Yaffee Prescott. In building after building, the firms architects and engineers have
managed tio mix existing restoration methods with inventive and unobtrusive insertions of new
materials and systems.
The significance of this work goes beyond the preservation of such landmarks. When you look
at the scope of Einhorn Yaffee Prescotts projects- not just preservation and adaptive use but
also sensitive additions and delicate insertions of new buildings into an existing fabric.
Not only has recent architecture emphasized its transitory nature and changeability, but also
has tried too hard, to appear cutting edge. However, EYPs architecture does not, and this is
one of the firms greatest strengths. Time after time, the firm strives to renew a sense of place,
a connection with the past.
The book is based on the principles, and tells us how EYP has managed to design so
responsively and so in-tune with the surrounding, with the past and the future in mind, to
create masterpieces which will be remembered for generations to come.

THE REVIEW:
The cover page of the book has a subtle and classical feel to it, much like all the designs of EYP
which are presented pictographically on it. A picture of the interiors of the New York State
Education building, with its newly added colorful banners is at the forefront. The cover page
collage is fitting as the book talks about the various works of EYP and what better way to entice
a reader than show him glimpses of what he will be reading about.
Also, the subtitle of the book, Preserving the Past, Designing for the Future perfectly capture
the gist of the book and the work of EYP in the fields of Architecture and Engineering.

BOOK REVIEW: ARCHITECTURE AS A RESPONSE

RISHAAD A AMLANI

The book is divided into three parts, Respectful Response, Harmonious Response and Congenial
Response. Respectful Response involves renewing and reshaping historic buildings. Harmonious
response relates to the addition of a large component or components into an existing building.
Congenial Response involves inserting new buildings into an existing environment. This is an
interesting way of dividing the work which is different at its core but also are parts of the same
larger scope. Each of the types has different problems, different solutions and different
implications on the surroundings.
Each section of the book has around ten different projects done by EYP, each accompanied by
plans, sections, elevations and pictures.
The projects have been studied in depth and have been systematically analyzed with the
problem, the context, the solution and the final design, all provided.
The main projects in the book, have been critically analyzed by renowned architects and
philosophers and give us a very interesting insight on what other professionals think about the
work done by EYP.
The main projects have also been accompanied by reviews of the design by the people who
matter the most, the users. It shows us that however good or aesthetically appealing your
design might be, it is not successful unless the users are happy with it.
The composition of the pages is such that reading it is easy. Pictures, plans and sections are
composed linearly in a way that the reader can refer to them effortlessly while reading.
The book is also apt for fast reading, such that the reader wants just a brief overview of the
designs. Pictures have captions explaining the design and the design process, and the before
and after status of the buildings.
The language used in the book is easy to understand and the author uses layman terms to
explain complicated concepts and ideas which makes it really easy for architects, even in their
early years of education.

CONCLUSION:
To conclude, this book by Nora Richter Greer, could be a very useful handbook for architects
who want to go beyond design, beyond engineering, into the wider and more gratifying scope
of responsiveness towards the existing context.

BOOK REVIEW: ARCHITECTURE AS A RESPONSE

RISHAAD A AMLANI

The content of this book could be the difference that determines the success of a design, and as
such must be read by each and every aspiring architect.
Nora Richter Greer has been successful in putting across the philosophy and the brilliant style of
work of Einhorn Yaffee Prescott, and the principle involved in design context responsive
buildings that not fulfil the aesthetic, pragmatic and functional requirements, of the client as
well as the user.
I would recommend this book to all professionals in the field of Architectural design, as well as
students who want to pursue architecture as a career.

BOOK REVIEW: ARCHITECTURE AS A RESPONSE

RISHAAD A AMLANI