Reyner Banham (1922-88) was one of the most influential critics of architecture, design, and popular culture from the 1950s to the 1980s. An engineer and historian by training, he was convinced that technology made society not only more exuberant, but above all more open and democratic.
His combination of academic rigor and sensitivity to the spontaneity of early pop set him against those who defended orthodox modernity, but placed him in a privileged position to understand the cultural implications of social and political change after the war. His first book, Theory and Design in the First Machine Age, is considered a key work for the overcoming of the Modern Movement in the 1960s. His Los Angeles. The Architecture of Four Ecologies is considered a work of reference for the understanding of the contemporary Californian megalopolis. According to the author himself, it is a book that could only be written after learning to drive, and can only be appreciated by drivers.