Immigrant architect : Rafael Guastavino and the American dream / written by Berta de Miguel, Kent Diebolt, and Virginia Lorente ; illustrated by Virginia Lorente

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    • Abstract:
      Summary: The Spanish architects Rafael Guastavino Sr. and his son, Rafael Guastavino Jr., designed more than one thousand iconic spaces across New York City and the United States, such as the New York City Hall Subway Station (still a tourist destination though no longer active), the Manhattan Federal Reserve Bank, the Nebraska State Capitol, the Great Hall of Ellis Island, the Oyster bar at Grand Central Terminal in New York, the Elephant House at the Bronx Zoo, the soaring tiled vaults under the Queensboro Bridge, the central dome of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, and the Boston Public Library. Written in the voice of the son, who was eight years old in 1881 when he immigrated to America with his father, this is their story.
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Booklist Reviews 2020 April #2

*Starred Review* Although Rafael Guastavino and his father, Rafael Guastavino Sr., were nearly lost to history, their pioneering architecture still spans the United States. Here, a young Rafael Jr. narrates his own picture-book "biography" about their collaborative path. Their story starts in Spain, where the elder Guastavino designed homes and buildings. In 1881, he set sail with big dreams and young Rafael, then eight, for New York City. As the narrator describes Guastavino Sr.'s early business attempts, he frames them through the hardships of the immigrant experience. America had another problem during this time too: buildings, mainly constructed of wood or iron, were prone to disaster during fires. In lengthy yet engaging text, Rafael emphasizes how architecture connects engineering and art as he relates his father's solution: the sturdy, beautiful, and fireproof Guastavino tile-vaulting system. He suggests thinking of an eggshell, "light but strong thanks to its overall shape." The remainder of the picture book tells of the creation of the father-son Guastavino Fireproof Construction Company and provides numerous examples that employ their intricately patterned tiles, from the Boston Public Library to Grand Central Terminal to, fittingly, the main hall of Ellis Island. Retro-style illustrations in primary colors and geometric shapes convey the splendor of these structures. Added "secrets" about some of the constructions lend more interest. An exceptional STEAM title. Grades 3-6. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.