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The Heights: Anatomy of a Skyscraper
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The Heights: Anatomy of a Skyscraper

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  238 ratings  ·  31 reviews

From the author of The Works: Anatomy of a City comes a gorgeous graphic tour through the inner workings of skyscrapers.

The skyscraper is perhaps the most recognizable icon of the modern urban landscape. Providing offices, homes, restaurants, and shopping to thousands of inhabitants, modern skyscrapers function as small cities- with infrastructure not unlike that hidden

Hardcover, 208 pages
Published November 10th 2011 by Penguin Press
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May 05, 2014 rated it liked it
I have read some wonderfully detailed, analytical reviews of this book by people who really know their stuff. Thankfully, I'm not one of them so I won't have to beat myself up for not delving into the minute details of what the books is choosing to highlight or leave out. I'm not bogged down with a vast store of foreknowledge on the subjects of skyscrapers, engineering, architecture, or any of the stuff I was so horrible at (it all required math skills way above my level) in college. Instead thi ...more
Eric Kolb
Jan 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
"Coffee table book" is an interesting genre. Such books are light on substance and usually emphasize their eminent consumability. Their essential nature is that a reader can pick up the book, read it distractedly, and put it back down without feeling a sense of further obligation. Indeed, many books in this market are in fact picture books.

To that end, The Heights is - unquestioningly - a coffee table book. It is well-illustrated and laid out with the maximum complexity of a high school text boo
Barry Mann
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Enjoyable info
Nov 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The Heights is a coffee table sized book that is packed full of information about the history, design, construction, maintenance, and future of the skyscraper. It is full of great pictures and graphics. I thought the graphics were particularly well done and a wonderful way for a person to really understand what is going on in the text of the book. From showing how test boring is performed by a geotechnical engineer to how a wind tunnel works, the graphics were fantastic. The graphics are so amaz ...more
Jul 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book is effectively a very big and comprehensive children's book in the best sense, every page covered with informative pictures, frequently diagrams with cutaways, and every two to four pages (and thus one or two spreads) covering a section onto itself. It also incorporated frequent informative infographics, one of the most notable being a three spread chart of the largest skyscrapers over time, drawn to scale, with text describing the history of skyscrapers above. Covering history, constr ...more
May 23, 2017 rated it liked it
I've been looking forward to reading this one for a long time. I really enjoyed Kate Ascher's book "The Works: Anatomy of a City" and I was hoping for more of the same. While this one was similar, it just wasn't as captivating as the other. It may be because I have worked in construction before, but a lot of this was already familiar to me, and therefore, the book was not as good as I was hoping for.

I love the illustrations in Ascher's books. They are some of the most detailed, yet simple, visu
Jun 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Heights: Anatomy of a Skyscraper is an impressively well-rounded and insightful look at the history and the future of skyscrapers. Some technical chapters were a little dry, but the amount of data is impressive and it's presented well with interesting graphics and timelines. I really liked the history section starting the book and the sustainability section near the end. To me, the vast majority of the glass curtain boxes of the mid 20th century, at the time cutting edge, were unfortunate an ...more
Gregorius Gerry Purnomo
Modern skyscraper is not just a mere building, it is a city by itself. From housing place, office and retail space, to parks and amenities, a typical skyscraper houses those facilities.

The Heights tells us how a skyscraper works, starting from history of skyscrapers, design stage, construction period, and even to living and maintenance phase. Each phase is explained as thoroughly as possible, complete with great illustrations in almost every page.

The Heights gives a very clear picture of how a s
Jose Bakker
Mar 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Skyscrapers have always fascinated me and this book with it's many illustrations showed me what is involved in the construction of these tall buildings. First it gives us a history of the skyscraper, then it describes the design elements from the concrete, structural steel, foundations, mechanical and electrical systems including elevators as well as the economics dictating the design and occupancy. There are chapters about safety, fire detection and firefighting high in the sky, window cleaning ...more
Aug 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
While the Heights is not nearly as captivating as Anatomy of a City, Kate Ascher's illustrations and comprehensive research still shine through. The Heights is a beautiful book that covers not only skyscrapers, but really how a building functions. Some parts I found to be quite repetitive, like in the middle of the book, when information in the overview paragraphs is repeated in the image captions. Sometimes it feels like her editors had her fill more pages to make the book longer, without reall ...more
Aug 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: urbanites, armchair architects, design fans
Recommended to Josh by: shelf @ UAPL
a very well crafted overview of all the systems that are in play to ensure that skyscrapers are adequately designed, built and maintained.

amazing visuals & graphics bring the text to life while a brief history and vision for the future round out the technical data with an important sociological look towards the topic.

like "The Works" it was a captivating read and one that i would encourage urban dwellers to take a read through to more fully appreciate the environs they find themselves in -
Ken Eveleigh
Dec 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Skyscrapers are not just tall piles of steel, concrete and glass as The Heights make abundantly clear. They are sophisticated machines designed to meet the vast and varied needs of their myriad occupants and visitors. This book is a clear and visually interesting history of skyscrapers, from their conception and design through the science and engineering of their many parts and systems. It will greatly enhance your appreciation and understanding of a tall building.
Nov 09, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I mostly skimmed this, stopping to read the captions on interesting pictures. I especially liked the section about elevator safety. I've always been curious about what prevents us from falling to our deaths in elevators.
Jim Skinner
Jan 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully illustrated book filled with fascinating details on the history, planning and operation of skyscrapers and modern buildings.

I now have a better idea on how the 22 story apartment building I live in operates, thanks to this stellar book.

Apr 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating book about all the complexities that go into designing, building and maintaining skyscrapers. Part a history lesson but also part of an examination of how we currently live and, increasingly, will live in the future.
Jan 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This book explained a lot of things about skyscrapers that I didn't even know as an adult. I think that as a kid this would have been the most fascinating book possible. It made me feel like a kid, I kept reading parts and wanting to tell them to someone because they were so fascinating.
Bill Stepien
Nov 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book appealed to two of my repressed personas - engineer and graphic designer. It takes on all aspects of the design, construction, and function of super tall buildings with cool visuals and easy-to-understand writing. I was amazed by something every couple pages.
Jun 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An amazing and comprehensive overview of every part of Skyscrapers: elevators, cleaning, structural support, wind effects, politics and more. I found myself spending minutes per page just to take it all in
Jul 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reference
Research for my upcoming masterpiece.
Dec 03, 2011 marked it as to-read
NPR interview, sounds like Bob or henry would enjoy
Jan 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Gives what it promises - easy reading with a lot of pictures, facts and explanations about skyscrapers. If you know nothing about them and curious - it will be interesting.
Jul 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Interesting and complete book about skyscrapers. I was initially drawn to the large format of the book by my interest in elevator systems. Nice graphics as well.
Dec 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
What an amazing book! I learned so much about the design and construction of skyscrapers.
Kristy Ann
Apr 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Beautiful illustrations
Mar 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I approve of the contents of this book.
Mar 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
A good layperson's look at the design and construction of these amazing buildings. Graphics were clear and organization was easy to follow.
Dec 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
EVERYTHING you ever wanted, or didn't want, to know about skyscrapers in an easy to read and easy to understand format.
Dec 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Very enjoyable and fact-filled explanation of what might be the future living and working space where many of this planet's inhabitants will spend 90% of their time in the future.
Sep 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Great for anyone who's ever wondered how skyscrapers are built and what goes into them
rated it really liked it
Apr 24, 2018
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Kate Ascher is an author and was executive vice president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation. Her 2005 book, The Works: Anatomy of a City, a textual and graphic exploration of how the complicated and often overlapping infrastructure of a modern city works, garnered wide discussion and praise when it was published. She left the NYCEDC in 2007 for Vornado Realty Trust. She formerl ...more