Architecture, Book review
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Are you a trivia whiz who knows his Alto from his Ando? Which bespectacled architect set the trend, nay stereotype, for round eyewear across the profession? Whose eyebrows are on fleek?

The Distinguishing Features Game, is one of more than 60 infographics featured in Archi-Graphic, a book from publisher Laurence King. Author Frank Jacobus, an associate professor at the Fay Jones School of Architecture at the University of Arkansas, dreamed it up as part of his goal to bring data visualization to his field—along with a much-needed dose of levity.

“I love the humor in the book and that’s part of what we’re after,” Jacobus says. “There’s a tendency to take things too seriously in architecture. We’re trying to make things a bit lighter. Part of my interest is in data visualization and I thought, what a great way to bring architecture to a bigger audience.”

Jacobus sketched out all of the infographics and worked with a group of about 20 architecture students to research and digitize them. The whole process took about a year and a half and sounds a heck of a lot more fun than your typical course of study. “It was its own class, so to speak, and we started asking questions that aren’t asked in lectures, like who had affairs with whom?” Jacobus says.

The book covers topics like rising skylines; a comparison of how much work an architect actually produces to how much buzz he or she generates (as measured by Google hits); and what building styles dictators prefer. It also tackles tough facts like the lack of diversity in the profession, which Jacobus says are the most impactful infographics in the book. “One of them called ‘Ladies and Gents’ talks about a discipline that’s slowly becoming equal but not anywhere close to where it needs to be,” Jacobus says. [Editor’s note: it’s about 17% female and 83% male.] “‘AIAn’t Ethnic’ deals with ethnicity in the discipline. It’s a play on words and references a Suprematist painting style that evokes the whiteness of our discipline. [Editor’s note: it’s about 72% caucasian.] We have some things to do in remedying a male-dominated, mostly caucasian profession.”

Very important and worthwhile issues and ones where seeing a graphic certainly hits the message home more so than abstract figures.

Images courtesy: Laurence King publishing

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