Witold Rybczynski is author of "Home: A History of an Idea" and "Looking Around: A Journey Through Architecture."The end of the millennium has been dominated by two celebrated buildings: Frank Gehry's masterful Guggen-heim Museum in Bilbao, and Daniel Libeskind's Jewish Museum in Berlin. If you can't get to see these extraordinary buildings yourself, they are well described in Frank O. Gehry: Guggenheim Bilboa Musaeo, by Kurt W. Forster and Ralph Richter (Axel Meyer), and in Jewish Museum Berlin, by Daniel Libeskind (G & B Arts International). Do Gehry and Libeskind point the way to the future? Not according to Leon Krier, whose Architecture: Choice or Fate (Andreas Papadakis) is both a spirited critique of modernism and an appeal for a return to an urbanism based on traditional principles.
The close of a millennium prompts reflection. An exemplary look at the past is afforded by New York 1880: Architecture and Urbanism in the Gilded Age by Robert A. M. Stern, Thomas Mellins and David Fishman (Monacelli), the fourth volume in a remarkable series. It reminds us that the end of the 19th century -- like the end of the 20th -- was a time of prosperity and technological change, as well as architectural grandeur.
Finally, combining the past and the present, is the beautifully illustrated Shingle Styles: Innovation and Tradition in American Architecture 1874-1982, by Bret Morgan and Leland M. Roth (Abrams), which demonstrates how a versatile architectural style can continue to inspire architects and owners.