Kate Ascher, author of The Heights, on tour November 2011

Posted By on October 21, 2011

About The Heights

• Hardcover: 208 pages
• Publisher: The Penguin Press (November 10, 2011)

From the author of The Works: Anatomy of a City comes a gorgeous graphic tour through the inner workings of skyscrapers.

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. Clean water is provided to floors thousands of feet in the sky; elevators move people swiftly and safely throughout the building; and telecom networks allow virtual meetings with people on other continents. How are these services-considered essential, but largely taken for granted- possible in such a complex structure? What does it really take to sustain human life at such enormous heights?

Exploring the interconnected systems that make life livable in the sky is the task of Kate Ascher’s stunningly illustrated The Heights: Anatomy of a Skyscraper. Ascher examines skyscrapers from around the world to learn how these incredible structures operate. 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? Have new safeguards been designed to protect skyscrapers from terrorism?

What happens when the power goes out in a building so tall? Why are all modern skyscrapers seemingly made of glass, and how can that be safe? How do skyscrapers age, and how can they be maintained over decades of habitation? No detail is too small, no difficulty too big to escape Ascher’s encyclopedic eye.

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 a triumphant ode to the most monumental aspect of modern civilization. Saturated with vivid illustrations and unforgettable anecdotes, The Heights is the ultimate guide to the way things work in the skyscraper.

About Kate Ascher

Kate Ascher received her M.Sc. and Ph.D. in government from the London School of Economics and her B.A. in political science from Brown University. She formerly served as assistant director of the Port at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and worked overseas in corporate finance, before her previous position as executive vice president of the Economic Development Corporation for City of New York. She is currently the director of development at Vornado.

Kate’s Tour Stops

Monday, November 14th: this is a456

Tuesday, November 15th: A Daily Dose of Architecture

Wednesday, November 16th: Life of an Architect

Thursday, November 17th: Architects 2Zebras

Monday, November 21st: Wordsmithonia

Tuesday, November 22nd: Architect Design

Wednesday, November 23rd: A Critical Architecture Blog

Friday, November 25th: Build Blog

Monday, November 28th: UrbanWorkbench

Wednesday, November 30th: Laura’s Reviews

Wednesday, November 30th: Market Urbanism

Tuesday, December 6th: Digital Urban

Wednesday, December 7th: GeekDad

Thursday, December 8th: All About Cities

Wednesday, December 14th: Ted Lehmann’s Bluegrass, Books, and Brainstorms

Wednesday, December 21st: myurbanist

Thursday, December 22nd: Sustainable Cities Collective

Thursday, December 22nd: The Atlantic Cities 


2 Responses to “Kate Ascher, author of The Heights, on tour November 2011”

  1. This book looks awesome. My husband (who is an architect) and I really liked The Works!

  2. Sue says:

    Loved the interview 12/2/11 on NPR Science Friday. Am really interested in your potentially upcoming book on transportation – primarily because my daughter is the director of the St. Louis Musuem of Transportation, St. Louis, MO. Can’t wait to hear it’s in print so I can get her a copy.
    Thanks for your work!!
    Sue L.
    Versailles OH

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