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A Daily Dose of Architecture: Two books exploring the environment

By John Hill
A Daily Dose of Architecture

Gissen_Manhattan coverManhattan Atmospheres looks at a particular time in New York City's recent history, a time that coincides with crises that led to the urban environment's deterioration. Graffiti-covered subway cars and burning buildings in the Bronx are the cliche images of New York's problems in the 1970s, and Gissen's four case studies – the Washington Bridge Extension Project, corporate atria like the Ford Foundation, the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Temple of Dendur Room, and trading floors in buildings like the World Financial Center in Battery Park City – are constructions that are positioned relative to the larger environmental degradation in the city. The spaces Gissen thoroughly and most fascinatingly examines are seen as cleaner alternatives to the outside environment, each in a different way. The Dendur Room, for example, offers a controlled environment for a temple from a much different climate, while the trading floors must contend with the heat created by people as well as computers, the latter enabling the speedy transactions that have created 21st century New York City to a large degree.

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Manhattan Atmospheres