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Maintenance Architecture


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The timing of this marvelous book couldn't be better. After decades of projects designed and discussed as the newest thing, we now have a study that faces the temporal reality of buildings without compromise: newness ends when inhabitation begins. Sample shows that the labor of construction is succeeded by the labor of remaking, of revitalization; indeed, of maintenance. Insofar as maintenance is a public concern -- ranging from social justice to visible beauty -- street cleaners and squeegees get their due, also works of art, and the topics that underpin current discussions of experimentation, performance, and sustainability. -- David Leatherbarrow, Professor & Chair of the Graduate Group in Architecture, University of Pennsylvania; coauthor of On Weathering To read Sample's Maintenance Architecture is to receive an artful set of intimate postcards from the edge of architecture's cone of vision. It is a correspondence from the architect's laboratory of reality that we ignore at our peril: maintenance will unravel our best intentions, thwart our worst, make a mockery of the sanctity of the image and its delivery of aura, and rewire the circuitry that distributes power between architect, client, and building. Poignant and thoughtful, this book argues that, in our (futile) negotiations with time and entropy, maintenance maintains the last word in architecture. Cleaning the windows will never be the same again. -- Francesca Hughes, Architectural Association School of Architecture; author of The Architecture of Error Drawing attention to the labor and devices dedicated to the entropic battle to maintain architecture's idealized image, Sample's short and personal ruminations unravel familiar and often canonical architectural objects, re-rendering them with squeegee marks, hoover caresses, layers of dust, and the mist that passed barriers intended to control it. This book opens up a world of maintenance-intimacy to contemporary critical scrutiny and design. -- Ana Miljacki, Associate Professor of Architecture, MIT Architects are rarely trained to think about problems of maintenance, let alone care about its definition. Maintenance Architecture aims to quietly demolish this habit of mind. Sample's attention to the labor of cleaning, polishing, scraping, patching, and painting insists that these performances are not supplemental but essential to the preservation of architecture's image as much as its physical and social substance. -- Craig Buckley, Assistant Professor of Modern and Contemporary Architecture, Department of the History of Art, Yale University Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown said that orthodox modern buildings look like ducks. What the pair didn't say is that it is not easy being a duck; they work really hard to look calm and cool on the surface. Hilary Sample's stunning visual essay on the care and feeding of modern buildings makes a brilliantly compelling case for the importance of those undetected efforts. In so doing, she has also pointed the way toward an unorthodox reimagining of the history of modern architecture. -- Sylvia Lavin, Professor, UCLA; author of Form Follows Libido

About the Author

Hilary Sample is a Principal at MOS, Associate Professor at Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture Planning, and Preservation, and author of Maintenance Architecture (MIT Press).

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