Reyner Banham Revisited (1)

A pleasure of being on holiday is the opportunity to catch up on some recent books. One is Richard J. Williams’s excellent and lively account of what he describes as ‘The Multiple Banhams’ – how Reyner Banham reinvented himself from the aeronautical engineer to the scholarly pupil of Nikolaus Pevsner, then unshackled himself as an advocate for Brutalism and prolific journalist in New Society. I read his book on Los Angeles when it came out and still admire it as a combination of analysis of urban form with touristic enthusiasm. He died just after he had been appointed a Professor at the Institute of Fine Arts, taking over from Henry-Russell Hitchcock. They were not unlike one another in their eclecticism and their in situ analysis of building types.

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