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From Publishers Weekly:

How American architecture balances tradition with innovation, practicality with artistic vision is the theme of this symposium volume. The skyscraper, as Thomas Van Leeuwen sees it, is a cosmic tower, symbol of a technological paradise whose design is not motivated purely by pragmatic concerns. From faucets to pianos, innovation in manufactured vernacular objects has defined the American democratic tradition, according to industrial designer Arthur Pulos. J. B. Jackson views the average working-class house in America as a "minimal" dwelling, divorced from community and the past, a place for privacy and bringing up children. Based on a conference/exhibition that inaugurated Columbia University's Temple Hoyne Buell Center, this collection of essays, architects' statements and dialogues is illustrated with hundreds of photographs and prints ranging from a Thomas Nast cartoon to H. H. Richardson's Ames Monument, a 60-foot granite pyramid in Wyoming.