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IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

November 20, 1994|Kenneth Turan

WORKS IN PROGRESS by Alvin Rosenbaum, photo editors Diane Maddex and Gretchen Smith Mui (Pomegranate Artbooks: $39.95; 208 pp.) Just as we're surprised to see childhood photos of adult friends, these vivid pictures of landmark buildings under construction tend to astonish. Surely the graceful Golden Gate Bridge never looked as buck-toothed as that, and can the Eiffel Tower ever have been so short and squat? Often taken for documentary purposes or legal reasons, these engaging pictures produce gasps on almost every page. Here is Frank Lloyd Wright's famous Fallingwater as little more than a wooden mock-up, the Titanic looking convincingly unsinkable in its Belfast shipyard, even Gaudi's celebrated Sagrada Familia cathedral-in-progress in Barcelona looking more finished in an early photograph than it does today. Perhaps most shocking of all is a photograph taken between 1948 and 1955 during the complete gutting of the White House for renovation purposes, the picture underlining the text's statement that "all that was left of the original building was the stone walls." If the White House is a sham, is it any wonder that the nation's capitol inspires so little trust?

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