All August I've been geeking out. Just about everyone I've seen in California has gotten an earful of one of three topics: Dr. Who, Torchwood, and coffee. Probably in that order. More doses of the last equals more of the first two. I am an enthusiastic fan—dare I say fangirl? (Did I not come up with the idea for a slash pairing of Don Draper and Captain Jack?)
So, when asked by Architect magazine to review the new BLDG BLOG Book, I felt kinship with Manaugh's many "enthusiasms" and wanted to see how they'd (underground cities, musical icebergs, fantasy weather, etc.) hold up in quality paperback. You can read the whole review at Architect, but here's a few grafs.
I’ve long been drawn to characters and themes that provoke architectural imaginings, so I was eager to see how Manaugh would translate his verbose and eclectic website into print. “I wanted to use the book as a book,” he writes. As such, he’s created material “exclusively” for the volume. The new essays and interviews, including conversation with Archigram’s own Peter Cook, not only make up the bulk of each chapter, they are bonus tracks for hard core BLDG BLOG fans. Still it is the dozens of reprinted blog posts that make for livelier reading, especially the interviews. Such as Manaugh’s talk with novelist Patrick McGrath, where the author, in his own words, explores the writing process and the dark imagination it takes to develop “gothic landscapes.”
It is hard to say if the new texts make the book anymore book-like. It still feels very bloggy, minus the hyperlinks and comments. (Actually, links would help, in just a few pages I chalked up references to works by Umberto Eco, Neil Gaiman, Francis Ford Coppola and Orson Welles. The extensive name checking is borderline High Fidelity, i.e. record store clerk insiderness.) In each short essay, Manaugh lets his consciousness expand. For instance, in a piece entitled The Weather Bowl, he proposes manipulating the climate to create public events and fun spectacles. Letting his narrative get frothy, he writes, “Weather control is the future of urban design. Engineering the climate is how we’ll make our cities interesting again.” Interesting. Like how Katrina made New Orleans interesting again? Is Manaugh critiquing the political gap between climate change and urban infrastructure with a sly parody? We’ll never know; he finishes by imagining a new Pritzker Prize for Best Weather Effects.