The Scottish Parliament By Charles Jencks.
Scala, 2005. 64pp. £4.95 Walker Art Center By Cathy Madison.
Scala, 2005. 64pp. £4.95 Scala publishes excellent guidebooks in various formats but the volumes in its Art Spaces series are truly pocket-sized - just 110 x 165mm, writes Andrew Mead.
About a dozen have appeared so far on buildings old and new, including the Guggenheim Bilbao, the Musée d'Orsay and the New York Public Library.
Cathy Madison gives a straightforward factual account of the evolution of the Walker Art Center - its origin as a private collection housed in a Minneapolis mansion, its move to a new building behind a 1920s Moorish facade, the fine Modernist replacement by Edward Larrabee Barnes in 1971, and the good-in-parts new addition by Herzog & de Meuron, which opened in April (AJ 14.04.05).
Jencks' text is of a different order, with a much more acute analysis of 'one of the most interesting, vilified, costly and marvellous buildings of our time' - Miralles' Scottish Parliament. As that comment implies, he's a fan. Accepting that many people will be 'confused and annoyed' when first faced with the 'complexity and richness' of the building, he's a persuasive advocate of its qualities (although there's a lot of persuading to do). Like Neil Gillespie in AJ 30.09.04, he finds 'poetry' in it.
Both books are generously illustrated, but Madison's edition on the Walker suffers from a rush to coincide with the opening of the new addition, and is consequently presented in an unfinished state. At such slight cost, though, you can't really argue.