I am probably not alone in having become jaded about "wonders of the natural world" photographic anthologies; those slick and perfect screen-saver images of animal and plants just leave me cold. A book of tree photographs—big yawn, right? So what a surprise to fall in love with photographer Larry Lederman's book Magnificent Trees of the New York Botanical Garden (The Moncacelli Press; 2012).
For his book, Up on the Roof: New York’s Hidden Skyline Spaces (Princeton Architectural Press), photographer Alex MacLean went up so that he could look down. From the vantage of a helicopter, MacLean documented the city, shooting iconic water towers, architectural details, green roofs, and elaborate multiuse spaces. The resulting images give a new perspective on life in New York and point to the city’s potential. As Robert Campbell writes in the book’s introduction: “Rooftops will be the lungs of the denser city of the future.” MacLean tells us more about what his book reveals.
In the same way haute couture resists everyday use (unless you happen to possess slim hips and a fat wallet), the exquisitely designed landscapes in Charlotte M. Frieze’s new book are more about grand inspiration than exact replication. Private Paradise: Contemporary American Gardens (Monacelli, $65), features properties festooned with retractable glass walls, artfully placed boulders, and re-engineered waterways.
Architecture books often use landscapes like garnish: a bit of green at the edges to decorate the main course. Not True Life: Steven Harris Architects (Princeton Architectural Press, $50). This weighty, satisfying look at the New York firm's first quarter century is comfort food for garden-hungry readers.
Photo by Jonathan Lovekin.