Sunday, May 1, 2011

Built to Last

Macaulay, D. (2010). Built to Last. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

This book is divided into three parts, each discussing all of the stages of constructing a castle, a cathedral, and a mosque. Each of the buildings constructed and scenarios surrounding their creation are fictitious, but they are all based on actual buildings and architects. This book is absolutely filled with minutely detailed images showing each construction process from determining the location and building the foundation, to decorating the interior and adding the finishing touches. The book discusses the purpose for each building in society and how they were funded. It shows all of the jobs created by the long and ardous undertakings of the construction of these buildings. There were laborers, skilled masons, stained glass makers, and many more people involved. The book also provides maps showing where these buildings would have been constructed and how they impacted the surrounding areas. There is a glossary at the end of the book that defines many of the building terms discussed.

This book is incredible. The details included in the drawings and descriptions are fascinating. I loved how it showed the long process of each building, providing dates to see how long they each took. In the case of the cathedral, the decision to build it was made in 1223, and the cathedral itself was completed in 1314. Most of the people who initially conceptualized it or funded it were deceased. The author also provides a lot of information on the engineering and design of these building how flying butresses and support domes were used to give these buildings their incredible height. It is also full of fun and interesting little details such as how toilets were built into castle walls, that was something I had never even heard or thought of, and this book provided a full color diagram! This book was inspired by the author's three black and white architecture books, "Cathedral," "Castle," and "Mosque." It was meant to be more of a compilation of those books, but instead Macaulay re-did most of the drawings in color, improving on the accuracy of the scale of the buildings.


Reading Level:
Ages 9 - 12

architecture, construction, castle, cathedral, mosque

Follow along through the entire design and construction of a castle, a cathedral, and a mosque.

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