Art and Architecture, Commentary

The world of airport design

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Slate architecture critic Witold Rybczynski posted a slide-show essay last week on the history and future of airport design. Airports, he begins, started out as grassy fields, but “by the late 1920s, as air travel became more widespread, larger buildings were required, with ticketing counters, waiting rooms, baggage handling, customs and immigration, and so on.… Architects have struggled with the problem of how to design airports ever since—and have produced a variety of different solutions.”
Their architectural solutions, of course, did not exist in a vacuum, and in Naked Airport, Alistair Gordon does a brilliant job of evoking the cultures that influenced and were influenced by what he calls the world’s most revolutionary structure. He does so by tracing their history from those grassy fields to their current position on the front lines in the struggle against international terrorism.
“Here is a book,” one reviewer commented, “with more than enough quirky details to last a long layover.” Which itself is a detail particularly worth noting if you’re lucky enough to have a summer vacation ahead of you.