Picks and Pans Review: High Rise

updated 05/17/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/17/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Jerry Adler

Architecture is a thoughtful making of spaces," mused the great architect Louis Kahn. For New York City developer Bruce Eichner, the central figure in Adler's entertaining and sharp-eyed chronicle, it was more of a sustained hustle. In his obsessive quest to erect a glorious new skyscraper in Times Square, Eichner roped in corporate investors with a mesmerizing pitch and wore down his own architects with endless demands for changes that would squeeze more revenue out of the glitzy building.

For five years, Adler, a senior editor at Newsweek, followed and interviewed everyone from the developer and the architects to the demolition crews and the electricians as they planned and built the blue-green office tower at 1540 Broadway. His book, subtitled "How 1,000 Men and Women Worked Around the Clock for Five Years and Lost $200 Million Building a Skyscraper," is a brisk-paced account that clarifies the almost mind-numbing procedures and problems inherent in large-scale development. This saga of clashing egos, screaming underlings and frustrated, high-minded architects—and of Eichner battling the Gorgon of city bureaucracy as delays and complications gobble up profits—should chasten any Trump wannabes who believe in the Midas-ease of the phrase "the art of the deal." (HarperCollins, $25)

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