NO WAY TO BUILD A BALLPARK AND OTHER IRREVERENT ESSAYS ON ARCHITECTURE by Allan Temko (Chronicle: $14.95; 271 pp., illustrated, paperback original). The Pulitzer Prize-winning critic for the San Francisco Chronicle chose 60 of his often sardonic columns from three decades for this engaging collection. Although most of the pieces focus on structures in San Francisco, he includes a withering assessment of the Robert O. Anderson building at LACMA and a disturbingly prescient discussion of urban sprawl in Southern California written in 1966. Temko may not command the razor-edged clarity of Ada Louise Huxtable, his obvious model, but he can turn a phrase with wicked accuracy: He dismisses the glitzy Marriott Hotel "as intrusive and awful--and soul-destroying--as canned music that cannot be turned off."
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