The Great Builders

The Great Builders

  1. Edited by Kenneth Powell
  • ISBN 9780500251799
  • 24.60 x 18.60 cm
  • Hardback
  • 304pp
  • With 229 illustrations
  • First published 2011
‘… beautifully decorated with maps, plans and photographs, all presented on a fine matte surface, and illustrating the simple assertion that developments in engineering push the frontiers of architecture. This is a point that cannot be overstated, and underpins every page of this excellent study of architecture’s most outstanding exponents’ – Burlington Magazine

The buildings around us have always been designed to influence the way we see, think and move.

The Great Builders celebrates the careers of forty great figures whose engineering skills have been crucial to their success. Illustrated with over two hundred photographs, plans and drawings, the book brings these remarkable characters and their work to life, revealing the technical ingenuity and aesthetic flair that define some of the world’s most iconic structures.


Here is Brunelleschi, who built the ‘unbuildable’ dome of Florence Cathedral; Sinan, a Christian engineer who became chief architect to the Ottoman court; Joseph Paxton, scribbling down a design for the Crystal Palace, London, on a piece of blotting paper; and James Bogardus, an early American evangelist of the opportunities offered by cast-iron architecture.

Rapid advances in industrial production inspired experiments with new materials and techniques, gradually allowing a whole new architecture to emerge: reinforced concrete, plate glass and steel were central to the creations of Le Corbusier, Auguste Perret and Mies van der Rohe, for instance; and, in the High-Tech architecture of the present day – represented by Norman Foster, Frank Gehry and Santiago Calatrava, among others – computer-aided design has seemingly tested the boundaries of the possible.

Kenneth Powell’s many books include studies of Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, Will Alsop and John McAslan, The Shard The Official Guidebook and was co-author of The City of London: Architectural Tradition and Innovation in the Square Mile, both published by Thames & Hudson.