For general readers in search of a pictorial introduction to the century's most influential buildings, Glancey's book takes some beating. The pictures – more than 350, mostly in colour – are invariably striking, often stunning. Taken together, they offer a sumptuous and seductive overview of the aesthetic delights that architects are capable of creating.
As well as delighting, some of these beautiful buildings will surprise readers. Housing estates and factories may not seem the most obvious entries in architecture's greatest hits collection. But the well-crafted "penny lives" that accompany each building are insightful, intelligently eliciting the significance of each structure. If there is sometimes a little too much of the idiosyncratic about Glancey's commentary, this is a price worth paying for the evident enthusiasm and love of the subject that pervade his style.
The sprawling diversity of 20th-century building is well controlled by Glancey's division of subject matter into eight themes, ranging from the textbook – classical and modernism – to the more personal – robotic, arts and crafts, and organic. And though the architectural neophyte will benefit most, this book offers any experienced practitioner the chance to recharge their batteries and be inspired all over again by some stunning works. Well worth a place at anyone's workstation.