Author(s): Kenneth Powell (Editor)
The Great Builders surveys the careers of forty great architects whose engineering skills were crucial to their success. Sixteen nationalities and seven centuries of architectural innovation make for a survey of spectacular scope and depth: from churches and fortresses to bridges and high-tech skyscrapers, it includes masterpieces from all over the world and covers 700 years of architectural history. Here is Brunelleschi, who built the 'unbuildable' dome of Florence Cathedral; Sinan, a Christian engineer who became chief architect to the Ottoman court; Joseph Paxton, scribbling down a design for the Crystal Palace, London, on a piece of blotting paper; and James Bogardus, an early American evangelist of the opportunities offered by cast-iron architecture. Rapid advances in industrial production inspired experiments with new materials and techniques, gradually allowing a whole new architecture to emerge: reinforced concrete, plate glass and steel were central to the creations of Le Corbusier, Auguste Perret and Mies van der Rohe, for instance; and, in the High-Tech architecture of the present day - represented by Norman Foster, Frank Gehry and Santiago Calatrava, among others - computer-aided design has seemingly tested the boundaries of the possible.