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What's red, white and blue, 1,055 pages (not counting nine blank pages at the end that I can only assume are for doodles), and probably weighs 7 or more pounds? You guessed it! The fifth edition of the "AIA Guide to New York City." The tome by Norval White and Elliot Willensky, both deceased, with Fran Leadon was published June 9 by Oxford University Press, New York City. It beat "Miami Architecture: An AIA Guide Featuring Downtown, the Beaches and Coconut Grove," to the printer by four days. But both books are going to be celebrated—and sold—at the American Institute of Architects 2010 convention in Miami, June 10-12.

The kickoff party for the New York City guide, which took place June 2 at the Center for Architecture in Greenwich Village, served both as a celebration and an informal memorial. Author White, who had been involved since the first edition in 1968, died Dec. 26, just after the first draft had been turned in. (Willensky had died in 1990, so that left registered architect Leadon, who teaches architecture at City College), to talk about the latest edition of the guide, first published in 1968.

The new edition, put together in two years with the help of 22 City College student architects and landscape architects, contains more than 2,000, culled from 42,000 taken, new photographs and 300 new maps.

One big change from the fourth edition is a return to a bold, type cover, reminiscent of earlier editions. Looking at the nostalgic new cover, I suddenly remembered Gerry Burns, a former editor of ENR who died in 1992 at the young age of 37, had given me his copy of the guide as a gift some 25 or 30 years ago. (Gerry gave me much more than a book. A graduate structural engineer and a journalist, he taught me almost everything I needed to know about buildings and writing.)

At the kickoff party, Leadon reminisced about his most recent teacher-mentor, White. "I thought I knew about New York," said Leadon. "Then I met Norval."

Leadon compared the two years working with White, who lived in France, to going back to school. "Norval had done the fourth edition himself," he said. "For the fifth, he wanted the creative struggle of a collaboration."

White wanted to put everything in the new edition, but there was no room. So they set criteria. Buildings were left out that were either not good enough or not bad enough, said Leadon. "The building had to have quality either way," he said.

The encyclopedic guide is White's legacy. It includes everything from the Silvercup Studios sign in Queens to four beige-tinted pages on the World Trade Center area. (Yes, the twin towers are pictured—twicee.)

The book is available at, for $26.37 (the list price is $39.95). There, you can order any of the many AIA guides to U.S. cities, including Miami's. For those who can't handle lugging the Big Apple's heavy tome around, there is a Kindle version coming out any day.