A Field Guide to American Houses

A Field Guide to American Houses

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

Book - 2015
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Now in paperback: the fully expanded, updated, and freshly designed second edition of the most comprehensive and widely acclaimed guide to domestic architecture: in print since its original publication in 1984, and acknowledged everywhere as the unmatched, essential guide to American houses.

This revised edition includes a section on neighborhoods; expanded and completely new categories of house styles with photos and descriptions of each; an appendix on "Approaches to Construction in the 20th and 21st Centuries"; an expanded bibliography; and 600 new photographs and line drawings.
Publisher: New York :, Alfred A. Knopf,, 2015
Edition: Revised and expanded edition
ISBN: 9780375710827
0375710825
Branch Call Number: 728.0973 McAlester
Characteristics: xxv, 848 pages :,illustrations ;,23 cm
Additional Contributors: McAlester, A. Lee (Arcie Lee), 1933-

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Tigard_ErikC Feb 21, 2020

This title may well contain more information about the history of American houses than anyone could want. It is nevertheless probably the best guide to this particular form and purpose of building that could be written. Hidden herein are wide swaths of cultural and economic history, as embodied decade by decade in people’s most expensive and important possession. The chapter on neighborhoods should be of great interest in particular to any reader concerned with housing, livability, sustainability, and similar matters, as it is an exceedingly sharp and concise exploration of the nature and effects of different possible arrangements of our built environment on our lives.

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sarahcharlotte999
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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