Staff Picks: Books
Staff-recommended reading from the
After finishing Nicholas Fox Weber’s excellent and very complete biography of the enigmatic architect and urban planner Le Corbusier I was struck by the contradictions and inconsistencies in a life that seemed orchestrated in such a deliberate and precise way. In his 30’s, Swiss born and lacking any formal architectural training Charles-Edouard Jeanneret would change his name to Le Corbusier (often translated - the crow-like one) in an artistically inspired maneuver designed to not only add grandeur to his life and work, but to alter his personality completely and launch himself, larger than life, onto the world stage. Contradictions abound throughout the story of Le Corbusier’s life and career, as urban planner he zealously pushed to radically change the way cities functioned and to create efficiency in urban life, yet later admitted to never really expecting his plans to be fully realized, a reader of Nietzsche, he self-promoted the clarity of his architectural vision and the strength of his character, yet could easily be described as a “momma’s boy” who, even as he become world famous, sought the approval of his parents above all else, he required purity of form and famously wanted his buildings to function as “machines for living”, yet, like America’s own titan of modern architecture, was unapologetic and unhelpful when the roofs leaked in his buildings, and though he was responsible for some the most significant architectural achievments of his time, he was only truly at peace as a painter. Rather than deminish his charecter or the image he created for himself, the contradictions only add to the absorbing story of the fascinating Le Corbusier!
Le Corbusier: A Life