A deep exploration of modern life that examines our cities, public places, and homes In Mysteries of the Mall, Witold Rybczynski, the author of How Architecture Works, casts a seasoned critical eye on the modern scene. His subject is nothing less than the broad setting of our metropolitan world. In thirty-four discerning essays, Rybczynski ranges over topics as varied as shopping malls, Central Park, the Op ra Bastille, and America's shrinking cities. Along the way, he examines our post-9/11 obsession with security, the revival of the big-city library, the rise of college towns, our fascination with vacation homes, and Disney's planned community of Celebration. By looking at contemporary architects as diverse as Frank Gehry, Moshe Safdie, and Bing Thom, revisiting old masters such as Palladio, Le Corbusier, and Frank Lloyd Wright, and considering such unsung innovators as Stanley H. Durwood, the inventor of the cineplex, Rybczynski ponders the role of global metropolises in an age of tourism and reflects on what kinds of places attract us in the modern city. Mysteries of the Mall is required reading for anyone curious about the contemporary world and how it came to be the way it is.
Witold Rybczynski, Hon. FAIA, is an emeritus professor of architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. He has contributed to The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Time and The New York Times. The recipient of the 2007 Vincent Scully Prize, he was honored in 2014 with the National Design Award for Design Mind from the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. He is the author of the critically-acclaimed book Home and the award-winning A Clearing in the Distance. His latest book is The Biography of a Building.
“Throughout the collection, Rybczynski’s writing is clear-headed and thoughtful, knowledgeable but unpretentious . . . the awe, appreciation and wonder that Rybczynski has for architecture can be infectious.”
“[H]is writing is, like his architectural leanings, clear and civil, and full of cocktail-worthy trivia.”