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Nowadays, unless you’re actually involved in one of the technical fields, you’re more likely to think of technology as an inevitability than an intellectual quest. But in Building the Nineteenth Century, Lehigh University architectural historian Tom F. Peters identifies technological know-how as a hybrid of orderly, linear scientific thought and contingent, empirical “matrix” thinking, noting that “apparent illogic has never daunted technologists.” As he chronicles the development of such projects as the Crystal Palace, the Suez Canal, the Eiffel Tower, and the Mont Cenis Tunnel through the Alps, Peters finds that the greatest gains resulted once designers recognized building as a process rather than taking it to be a fait accompli. Peters reads and signs at 6:30 p.m. at the National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW. $12. For reservations call (202) 272-2448. (Glenn Dixon)