“Home is an idea,” Meghan Daum writes in her foreword, “a story we tell ourselves about who we are and who and what we want closest in our midst.” In The American Idea of Home, documentary filmmaker Bernard Friedman interviews more than thirty leaders in the field of architecture about a constellation of ideas relating to housing and home. The interviewees include Pritzker Prize winners Thom Mayne, Richard Meier, and Robert Venturi; Pulitzer Prize winners Paul Goldberger and Tracy Kidder; American Institute of Architects head Robert Ivy; and legendary architects such as Denise Scott Brown, Charles Gwathmey, Kenneth Frampton, and Robert A. M. Stern.
The American idea of home and the many types of housing that embody it launch lively, wide-ranging conversations about some of the most vital and important issues in architecture today. The topics that Friedman and his interviewees discuss illuminate five overarching themes: the functions and meanings of home; history, tradition, and change in residential architecture; activism, sustainability, and the environment; cities, suburbs, and regions; and technology, innovation, and materials. Friedman frames the interviews with an extended introduction that highlights these themes and helps readers appreciate the common concerns that underlie projects as disparate as Katrina cottages and Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian houses. Readers will come away from these thought-provoking interviews with an enhanced awareness of the “under the hood” kinds of design decisions that fundamentally shape our ideas of home and the dwellings in which we live.
Bernard Friedman is managing partner of Flying Mind, a multidisciplinary documentary development and production company. He directed American Homes, an animated one-thousand-year history of residential architecture in North America, which has been acclaimed at the Edinburgh Film Festival, New York Architecture & Design Film Festival, and Architecture Film Festival of Rotterdam, among others. Friedman is a founder and the current chair of the advisory board of the Arid Lands Institute, which trains designers and citizens to innovate in response to hydrologic variability brought on by climate change.
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