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The Letters of Colin Rowe: Five Decades of Correspondence

Author: Daniel J. Naegele
Published: Artifice, 2016

Legendary architect, historian and critic, Colin Rowe taught Architecture and Urban Design at Liverpool University, the University of Texas at Austin, Cambridge University and for another 30 years at Cornell. From the late 1940s through to the early 1960s he wrote a uniquely perceptive series of articles on architecture that remains seminal to the discipline today. His books include The Mathematics of the Ideal Villa and Other Essays, The Architecture of Good Intentions, the volume As I Was Saying, and most notably, the 1978 Collage City, written with Fred Koetter. The recipient of the profession’s highest honors, he was awarded the Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education in 1985; and the Gold Medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1995.

Rowe was an inveterate letter writer. From his student days at Liverpool in the early 1940s until his death in Washington in 1999, he wrote innumerable letters to his parents, renowned architects and scholars, friends, colleagues and former students on both sides of the Atlantic; and most consistently and intimately to his brother, David, and sister-in-law, Dorothy, in England. Informal and elegant ruminations, they illuminate moments in Rowe’s migratory life, addressing a wide range of subjects from books, furniture, landscapes, politics, history and education, to architecture and the urban condition and a host of other engaging topics. Rich with wit and an astonishing array of scholarship, each is written in the incomparable style for which Rowe has long been famous, making evident his love affair with words and revealing a man of great humour, warmth and charm.

This selection of more than 250 of the surviving Rowe letters is edited and introduced by Daniel Naegele and Anthony Eardley.

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