New and notable books on architecture, culture, and design.

The Transportation of Place
Photographs by Andrea Robbins and Max Becher
Essays by Lucy R. Lippard and Maurice Berger
Designed by Francesca Richer
Aperture Foundation, 156 pp., $50

During a trip to Italy with her family last year, one of our editors’ parents repeatedly compared the country’s familiar architectural icons unfavorably to their likenesses in Las Vegas. The Transportation of Place is all about that kind of experience: things aren’t quite what they seem, and their not being what they seem has a destabilizing effect on everything else. These photographs of German colonial remnants in Namibia, Hollywood sets in Tucson, American strip malls in Toulouse—and of course, Las Vegas’s New York skyline—all reflect the globalizing world back on itself in strange and paradoxical ways, making you wonder whether the town of Bellagio is in fact merely a poor imitation of a Vegas casino.

Solar Design: Photovoltaics for Old Buildings, Urban Space, Landscapes
By Ingrid Hermannsdörfer and Christine Rüb
Designed by Christine Rüb
Jovis, 143 pp., $25

While solar paneling might blend seamlessly into contemporary architecture, incorporating it into historic buildings is more problematic. That’s why PVACCEPT, a German-Italian research and demonstration project, developed innovative solutions to integrate photovoltaics into old buildings and urban environments without compromising history or aesthetics. This little bilingual book (in English and German) presents their investigation into creative applications and adaptations, with inspiring examples of successful projects. It is a convincing champion of alternative energy for architects, conservationists, and investors who, until now, weren’t turned on by solar power.

Compiled by Norman Foster
Designed by Mark Vernon-Jones
Prestel, 208 pp., $70

With 40 years of acclaimed architectural practice under his belt, Lord Foster has good reason to reflect. In this photographic tour of his work and philosophy, black-and-white images explore how themes such as light play, ecology, visual character, and relationship to the surrounding environment work in tandem to meet people’s “spiritual and material” needs. The book begs for a spot on architects’ coffee tables, sporting slick, structural, and artfully composed full-page photos that illustrate the insights—as well as the global accomplishments—of a design icon.

New Design Cities/Nouvelles Villes de Design
Under the direction of Marie-Josée Lacroix
Designed by Orangetango
Éditions Infopresse, 336 pp., $32

The seven case studies profiled—six cities and Times Square—have discovered that design is a powerful tool for improving their citizens’ quality of life, invigorating their economies, strengthening local identities, and supporting sustainable urban development. Antwerp, Glasgow, Lisbon, Montreal, Saint-Étienne, Stockholm, and Times Square provide the models for the “New Design City.” In a concise and digestible format (complete with color-coding for each city), essayists, designers, government officials, and citizens describe how good design has transformed their respective cities.

Cracking the Whip: Essays on Design and Its Side Effects
By Ralph Caplan
Designed by Adam B. Bohannon
Fairchild Publications, 296 pp., $40

Design is omnipresent in our lives, evident in everything from the packaging of our toothpaste to the traffic flow of our morning commute. During the past several decades the author has been writing “about how we use design, language, and instinct to navigate our everyday world,” and the book is a compilation of 63 previously published pieces—some updated and reedited—that take us on a side-winding trip through his daily experiences living with and thinking about design.

The Kitchen
Edited by Klaus Spechtenhauser
Designed by Klaus Spechtenhauser
Birkhäuser, 160 pp., $41.95

More than just the place where your all-in-one microwave-toaster-convection oven lives, the kitchen has long been considered the hub of the home. But it hasn’t always taken the streamlined ergonomic form found in the slick pages of today’s shelter magazines. The Kitchen, a collection of academic essays, traces its various incarnations over the last century—from the ultra-hygienic kitchens at the turn of the century to the eat-ins of the 1950s and the sleek high-tech models of today. There is sociological insight to be found here if you’re willing to slog through the clunky translation from the German original.

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