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Metal Living for a Modern AgePrinceton Architectural Press
By Chris Chiei,and Julie Decker
7-1/5 x 8-1/4 in; 176 pp; 80 color and 110 B/W images
September 2005 ISBN 9781568985190 ISBN10 1568985193
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When World War II came along, the American military found itself in need of a prefabricated, lightweight shelter that could be easily shipped and quickly assembled. The quonset hut, that sliced tube of corrugated metal, was the answer. Over a hundred thousand were produced as part of the war effort. In its aftermath, even more were built and existing huts were adapted to house the postwar population boom. Of course, it couldn't last: the American desire for permanence meant decay and neglect for many of these rough-and-ready shelters and quickie warehouses.
But in the midst of its almost tragic tale of extinction, the quonset hut has emerged as an unexpected icon of Americana and an oasis of architectural imagination. Travel the back roads of America and you will find the quonset's distinctive shape enclosing everything from houses ofworship to houses of pancakes.
Quonset Hut tells the story of this unique architectural phenomena, from its birth during WWII as a mass-production shelter to its new status as an icon of American pragmatism, ingenuity, perseverance, and individuality.
Chris Chiei is project director for the national research project Quonset. She is director of the Alaska Design Forum and is a professional architect.
Julie Decker is author of Icebreakers: Alaska'sMost Innovative Artist. She has curated numerous exhibits on contemporary art as owner of theDecker/Morris Gallery. Both authors live in Anchorage, Alaska.
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