No Place Like Utopia: Modern Architecture and the Company We Kept

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Knopf, 1993 - Architecture - 347 pages
For more than half a century, Peter Blake has lived in the mainstream of contemporary architecture and art. As writer, magazine editor, critic, and practicing architect, he has numbered among his friends and acquaintances (and occasionally enemies) virtually all of the major figures of modern architecture, and a good many famous artists as well. In this crisp and lively memoir, he brings them - and the time he shared with them - vividly and memorably to life. The anecdotes are memorable. Here is Frank Lloyd Wright (regarded by Blake as a perfect example of "the Artist as Ham", though he greatly admired his buildings) exploding at the discovery of young Blake's savage review of his Autobiography ... Bertrand Russell trying to escape visitors by hiding up a tree in Pennsylvania, as he calmly puffs away on his pipe ... Buckminster Fuller tap-dancing on a drafting table to demonstrate the metrical affinity between bebop and a new mathematical system he is working on ... Mies van der Rohe at work, stolidly gazing at a model of an ITT building while assistants scurry around making alterations ... Marcel Breuer telling how he invented his famous chair ... Philip Johnson delightedly answering a solemn question about heat loss from a visitor to his glass house: "The heat loss is absolutely tremendous" - and beaming from ear to ear. But No Place Like Utopia also has a deeper theme: how modern architecture, born and raised between the wars and after with a strong sense of social and political idealism, in the 1960s gradually fell back into its ancient role as an elitist pursuit dedicated to flattering the rich and powerful. Only now, as Blake makes clear, can we see the beginnings of a return toits original principles. From the push-and-pull of politics, culminating in the witch-hunts of the McCarthy period, to heady days in the magazine business, first with Architectural Forum and then with the brilliant but ultimately doomed Architecture Plus, Peter Blake has always been energetically involved with his art and with his era. No Place Like Utopia is thus doubly valuable, as a wonderfully readable historical and personal document, and a pungent commentary on where modern architecture went wrong and right.

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NO PLACE LIKE UTOPIA: Modern Architecture and the Company We Kept

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In a personal tour of modern architecture and the colorful, eccentric, clannish men (all men)—mostly displaced Europeans- -responsible for it, Blake (Curator for Architecture and Industrial Design ... Read full review

No place like Utopia: modern architecture and the company we kept

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A practicing architect as well as an architectural critic, editor, and educator, Blake's half-century association with the Museum of Modern Art and the Architectural Forum placed him in the perfect ... Read full review


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About the author (1993)

Peter Blake is an architect and critic. Among his books are "The Master Builders: Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, and Frank Lloyd Wright "(1960) and, most recently, "No Place Like Utopia."

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