I was asked to review a copy of The Heights, Anatomy of a Skyscraper by Kate Ascher by the Penguin Press as part of her online 'book tour' and am pleased to participate. While not involved with this area of design (high rise) as a residential architect, it has been a subject that has fascinated me since childhood.The book is jam-packed with a lot of basic information about skycrapers; technical, historical as well as how they impact the built environment and the future. While fears mount worldwide about how to efficiently house a growing population, sky-scrapers have become ever more desirable as a building type. One only has to note the growing number of them being built in developing countries across the globe to point out their importance let alone here at home in the United States (I live in a new high rise building myself).As I said, the book very thoroughly examines the skyscraper but in a way which is geared towards the novice and not a seasoned architect (or even a less seasoned one, such as myself!). I see this as an ideal gift for either a high school student interested in architecture or engineering school or even a present architectural student. The book is full of informative illustrations highlighting key points; lessons in and of themselves. I particularly enjoyed a timeline early in the book which puts scale drawings of well known skyscrapers, starting in 1875 with the New York Tribune Building at 250 feet and advancing towards 2010 with the Burj Khalifa in Dubai which soars over 2,600 feet.
All in all, the wonderfully smart graphics and precise information on skyscrapers, presented in an interesting and fun way, make this a perfect gift for anyone interested in the built environment. Skyscraper 101, an ever more important subject!