Twentieth-Century Building Materials: History and Conservation

Thomas C. Jester, editor. Twentieth –Century Building Materials: History and Conservation

(Los Angeles, CA: Getty Conservation Institute 2014), 320 pages, 27 color illustrations and numerous drawings, diagrams and photographs in black and white.

Twentieth –Century Building Materials was first published in 1995 under the same title by McGrawHill in cooperation with Technical Preservation Services, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.  This second edition with a new preface by the editor, Thomas Jester, and a new cover is otherwise a reprint of the original publication.That does not make the book less important today but highlights how in many ways the book, its editor and contributors were ahead of their time. In the last two decades the interest in preserving modern architecture has grown exponentially but this book still very much retains its relevancy.

After an introduction addressing the changing of building practices and processes in the modern era related to standardization and experimentation, the book is divided in different sections according to material. Metals, glass, masonry and concrete are the most obvious modern and modernist materials but they are complemented with chapters on various sheet and sheathing materials and roofing. Each material section follows the same general format, a description of the material composition, make up and typical usages, a discussion of the deterioration processes encountered and an outline of conservation methods. Each material section is the work of a different author, a specialist on the particular subject. Extensive references are made not only to the material as defined by its composition but also to the various trade names under which it was available. In addition each section extensively annotated and is accompanied at the back of the book with a bibliography

Twentieth –Century Building Materials has been out of print and in great demand for a long time. The editor and the Getty Conservation Institute are to be commended for bringing this important book back into print.     

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