Built: The Hidden Stories Behind our Structures
Built by Roma Agrawal is a history and explanation of structures we live in, move over, or travel on every day. She is a structural engineer with a talent for making concrete, bricks, mortar, foundations, bridges, steel, water, and other such essentials interesting. She shares her professional accomplishments with skill and energy, acknowledging the debts of those who built before. The Romans made concrete that cured underwater. Bricks have been made since the beginning of civilization and are still a major building material. Buildings were no higher than 10 stories until Bressler invented an inexpensive way to make steel. The bends were a major problem building the Brooklyn Bridge. Mexico City’s buildings float on an old lake bed. Skyscrapers were not possible before the invention of the elevator. The author’s writing makes engineering concepts easy to understand. She does not ask the reader to do the math, she asks to reader to dream with her, look at the world before a problem is solved, then rejoice in the solution and all that it has meant to us as heirs of earlier genius. In short, she does the almost impossible; she makes engineering fun. Her writing is often humorous, always informative, and full of her own training, practice, and wisdom. I recommend her book.