The authors examine buildings of all kinds, from ancient domes like Istanbul's Hagia Sophia to the state-of-the-art Hartford Civic Arena. Their subjects range from the man-caused destruction of the Parthenon to the earthquake damage of 1989 in Armenia and San Francisco. The stories that make up Why Buildings Fall Down are in the end very human ones, tales of the interaction of people and nature, of architects, engineers, builders, materials, and natural forces all coming together in sometimes dramatic (and always instructive) ways.
In Why Buildings Stand Up, Salvadori wrote so knowledgeably, expressing his sheer delight, about bridges, loads, stress, weather and a host of other topics, that the general reader was totally captivated by what he might have expected to be a fairly dusty subject. This successor volume is, as may be imagined, less aesthetically satisfying but a whole lot jazzier. It chronicles and explains spectacular architectural failures - some of them horrible disasters: bridges, tower blocks, dams, some new and some ancient. The ghastly collapse of the Hyatt Regency hotel in Kansas City in 1981 is one case to be examined in detail along with the causes of this bureaucratic and engineering failure, and the author finds room as well for disasters of a different kind in such places as Dresden and Coventry. The 11 September terrorist attack in New York is also given detailed structural treatment. These books are enthralling. There's no question of having one of them: you need them both, and the way you look at buildings will never be the same again. (Kirkus UK)