by Joy Monice Malnar and Frank Vodvarka. University of Minnesota Press, August 2013. 272 p. ill. ISBN 9780816677450 (pbk.), $39.95; ISBN 9780816677443 (cl.), $120.00.
Reviewed March 2014
Hillary B. Veeder, Public Services Librarian, Architecture Library, Texas Tech University Libraries, firstname.lastname@example.org
The majority of the projects featured in this book are located in the western Unites States and western and central areas of Canada. The authors note that their scholarly process included identifying buildings that exhibit and personify Native cultures and the building traditions of those cultures; it is fair to say that Malnar and Vodvarka succeeded in their task. The authors have produced a scholarly record of twentieth and twenty-first century indigenous architecture projects that express the theme of social and cultural influence, past and present, on the architectural design process. Throughout the book this theme is explored from the purview of the process and outcome of the individual building projects and the Native peoples the structures serve. Topics such as design precedent, the use and need for alternate building materials, to discussions of space and sensory expectations and the cooperative design processes that were totally void of western design paradigms and design aesthetics of the individual architects and firms are reiterated throughout each chapter.
The authors begin each chapter with a brief historical overview of the Native peoples of the region while also referencing their traditional structures. Each chapter contains a nice balance between visual content and critical discussion. Visuals include black and white and color historical and current photographs of the exteriors and interiors of the structures as well as plans, sections, elevations and models of the projects. The primary and secondary source references that the authors include from the architects and firms involved in the projects leave little room for misinterpretation of the design expectations set forth by the Native clients. These quotes and references enhance the critical discussion of the design process and also inspire further inquiry and understanding of related, multidisciplinary fields, such as history and ethnography, which played roles in the design and project planning.
This paperback has a burst perfect binding which may eventually require some preservation attention and is produced on high quality, acid-free paper. A list of the projects discussed, arranged by chapter, is given at the beginning of the book and includes the date of the project as well as the architects and firms involved. Reference notes and a comprehensive index are also included. Undergraduates, graduates, and faculty in design and social science disciplines will all find value in this book. Libraries that support architecture programs will find this book to be an excellent addition to a subject area that has received minimal attention in book publishing since the mid-1990s.
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