The buildings around us have always been designed to influence the way we see, think and move.
The Great Builders celebrates the careers of 40 great figures whose engineering skills have been crucial to their success. Illustrated with over 200 photographs, plans and drawings, the book brings these remarkable characters and their work to life, revealing the technical ingenuity and aesthetic flair that define some of the world’s most iconic structures.
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.
Winner: Longman – History Today Awards 2013, Historical Picture Researcher of the Year: Pauline Hubner