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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 beneath our streets. At the time of year when your looking for a book on all things urban then The Heights by Kate Ascher, author of The Works: Anatomy of a City provides a great graphic tour through the inner workings of skyscrapers.

Exploring the interconnected systems that make life liveable in the sky Kate provides a unique illustrated view of the development, operation, safety and history of the skyscraper. Just how do skyscrapers sway in the wind, and why exactly is that a good idea? How can a modern elevator be as fast as an airplane? Why are skyscrapers in Asia safer than those in the United States and onwards…. 

Along the way, The Heights introduces the reader to every type of person involved in designing, building, and maintaining a skyscraper: the designers who calculate how weight and weather will affect their structures, the workers who dig the foundations and raise the lightning rods, the crews who clean the windows and maintain the air ducts, and the firefighters-whose special equipment allows blazes to be fought at unprecedented heights. 

More than a technical survey, Ascher’s work is an ode to the most monumental aspect of modern civilization. Full of illustrations and anecdotes, The Heights is a good art style guide for anyone interested in high rises…

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