Like an abacus, “The Chronicle” is a time-telling device that documents more than 20 years of the reconstruction and development of Beirut city centre in the aftermath of the Lebanese civil war (1975–1990). Introduced by a foldout table of contents that doubles as an annotated timeline, the publication unites two stitched volumes: a colour photography archive of urban history and a chronology of events, each sequenced in reverse chronological order – with a folded map. The chronology is punctuated by interviews with an urban planner, a legal expert and an architect, each reflecting on the past two decades. The binding encourages interactive reading of the two narratives, image and text: the photography volume opens to the right and the chronology to the left, thus exposing the inside spine of the jacket, marked with 21 silver strokes to form a vertical timeline. Both volumes are divided into year-by-year chapters, with the fore edge of every page marked by a stroke that corresponds to the marks of the vertical timeline, inviting readers to track – in image and text – the urban history of the Lebanese capital as they move back through time.
This annual report fascinates with the moving story it tells and, furthermore, with the way it works. Subdivided into two volumes, one volume features beautiful colour photographs that document the reconstruction of the city, while the other volume presents, in black and white, data and facts from the last 20 years in a highly reduced and unadorned manner. Classic in approach, “The Chronicle” convinces through a design that is well thought-out down to the last detail and an implementation that is high quality throughout.