In this first volume of the book, The Visual Survey of the Fire Escape, he shows the physical humanity by visiting the forms of the cities and its images of fire escapes from twelve American cities and different regions. Specifically, it is a survey of a component which is really an architectural afterthought.
According to Lagomarsino, civil and industrial leaders placed more value on their own profit in the creation of industrial spaces, than the lives of the many workers inside their capitalist machine, leaving legislators to come to the rescue with an external solution. This iconic form is glorified with scenes in movies, but their everyday existence is to hang there as lonely as the wealthy industrialist’s that initially omitted them. They speak of being our savior in an impending doom, and do so in shadows of light and mirrored reflections seen in complex overlapping Cartesian coordinates.
This book shows the beauty of a dying and unique American architecture. The images highlight the fire escape as eerily frozen in time like they are from a cold war East Berlin, waiting for their removal by a follow on urban renewal that may never come. And yet very few architectural forms exhibit this much soliloquy of repetition and rhythm that is so involved with the hieratic form of a life safety function. They are ironic and speak of human condition.