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Manhattan Skyscrapers

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by Eric P Nash.Princeton Architectural Press, 1999.175pp.£30

Eric Nash takes us on a chronological tour of Manhattan's 'most significant'skyscrapers 75 in all, writes Andrew Mead .Each one is usually given a spread,with a dramatic fullbleed colour photograph by Norman McGrath on one page and Nash's commentary (plus an extra image or two) on the other.Some exceptional towers Woolworth,Chrysler,Seagram and the like are treated more extensively.There are very few plans or sections and no map.

The book is a great visual pleasure,though its format allows little exploration of interiors or details,so Nash's frequent references to impressive lobbies only tantalise.His text offers more than an historical resume,however,as he is precise in his descriptions,alert o the urban contribution of each building, and prepared to question received opinions for instance, ofthe (usually dismissed) threetower Sixth Avenue extension to Rockefeller Center in the early 1970s.

Aesthetically,the last 40-or-so pages of the book are a grim spectacle.There's little since Gordon Bunshaft's Marine Midland Bank Building (1967) that does not disfigure the New York skyline.

Pictured above is Cass Gilbert's Woolworth Building,233 Broadway (1913).At 55 storeys, it was the tallest skyscraper in the world for 16 years until surpassed by the Chrysler.

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