90 books like How Buildings Learn

By Stewart Brand,

Here are 90 books that How Buildings Learn fans have personally recommended if you like How Buildings Learn. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

Why am I passionate about this?

I have had a long career as a professor of organizational behavior. My view is that the most ignored and undervalued aspect of leadership is the development and implementation of political skills. Any leader who claims, “I don’t do politics” or “I’m not political,” is not serving themselves very well and, in fact, may be setting themselves up for failure. Whether in organizational life, in the sphere of public policy, or in daily life, we need to overcome the obstacles that impede our capacity to implement agendas and ideas and achieve our aspirations. Dreamers who lack political skills remain dreamers, not leaders. 

Samuel's book list on books for leaders who need to master the political skills to move ideas and innovations and overcome resistance

Samuel Bacharach Why did Samuel love this book?

This book is a must-read for anyone concerned with any form of change.

While focusing on the advancement of science, Kuhn, in his brilliant analysis, brings attention to the distinction between paradigmatic and incremental change. His is the key analysis between disruption and slow progression. In this day and age, when so many corporate leaders are obsessed with being disruptive, we often fail to realize that much of our progress is based on slow and steady incrementalism—one piece built upon another.

Paradigmatic change or total disruption has its benefits and its negative aspects, but it’s an outlier. All too often, leaders become obsessively driven toward disruption while the rest of their organization—their tech leaders, their scientists, their front-line, understand that incrementalism often has to proceed paradigmatic disruption.

Thomas Kuhn is the foremost thinker in introducing this distinction, and he understands the need to balance paradigmatic change and incremental change well.…

By Thomas S. Kuhn,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Structure of Scientific Revolutions as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A good book may have the power to change the way we see the world, but a great book actually becomes part of our daily consciousness, pervading our thinking to the point that we take it for granted, and we forget how provocative and challenging its ideas once were-and still are. "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" is that kind of book. When it was first published in 1962, it was a landmark event in the history and philosophy of science. And fifty years later, it still has many lessons to teach. With "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions", Kuhn challenged long-standing…


Book cover of The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

Neil Archer Author Of The Social Network: Youth Film 2.0

From my list on Silicon Valley’s impact on everyday life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have a fixation with films about or using digital technology: my work in this area is about trying to grasp the impacts of technological change on the world in which we live. In writing about The Social Network, I was gripped by the idea that a group of college kids could create something so contagious and monstrous as Facebook. More recently, I’ve been exploring the impacts of data on our understanding and management of sport. I’m also working on a long-term project about Pixar, a long-term fascination. I just love the idea that the films we and our children watch started out with a bunch of computer scientists, playing around with polygons.

Neil's book list on Silicon Valley’s impact on everyday life

Neil Archer Why did Neil love this book?

How did Hush Puppies become cool again? This is just one of the questions answered in Gladwell’s first and possibly still most influential book.

Gladwell is essentially a detective of cultural phenomena, which is probably why his writing has such an influence on what I do; both in terms of my book and my current work on sport.

While it never actually mentions computers, The Tipping Point, which analyses the social forces, networks, and mathematics that make things go viral (before the phrase ‘go viral’ went, well, viral) anticipates the impacts of Web 2.0. Little wonder that Sean Parker, of Napster and later Facebook fame, was so fond of quoting it.

By Malcolm Gladwell,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Tipping Point as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An introduction to the Tipping Point theory explains how minor changes in ideas and products can increase their popularity and how small adjustments in an individual's immediate environment can alter group behavior.


Book cover of On Immunity: An Inoculation

Sara Jensen Carr Author Of The Topography of Wellness: How Health and Disease Shaped the American Landscape

From my list on creating, building, and thinking about healthier places.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of architecture, urbanism, and landscape at Northeastern University in Boston, as well as a licensed architect and urban designer. I’ve always been fascinated by the ways the design of the world affects our decision-making, health, and opportunities, from the early days of my career designing hospitals to my current work researching and designing for green space equity and considering how we design in the age of pandemics and climate change. I hope these books, as well as my own writing and work, empower people to understand, ask for, and co-design healthier environments wherever they live, work, and play.

Sara's book list on creating, building, and thinking about healthier places

Sara Jensen Carr Why did Sara love this book?

Illness as Metaphor by Susan Sontag was an incredibly formative piece of writing for me, especially when I was thinking about how fears of tuberculosis and cancer shaped early and mid-20th-century design. I think this book picks up where that one left off, a piece of writing that not only writes a medical history but frames how we think about health, disease, and fear in discussions about vaccination, but with a great deal of empathy. This is a crucial read to understand how we bridge divisions and move forward in our pandemic age.

By Eula Biss,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked On Immunity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times Best Seller
A National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
A New York Times Book Review Top 10 Book of the Year
A Facebook "Year of Books" Selection

One of the Best Books of the Year
* National Book Critics Circle Award finalist * The New York Times Book Review (Top 10) * Entertainment Weekly (Top 10) * New York Magazine (Top 10)* Chicago Tribune (Top 10) * Publishers Weekly (Top 10) * Time Out New York (Top 10) * Los Angeles Times * Kirkus * Booklist * NPR's Science Friday * Newsday * Slate * Refinery…


Book cover of The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language

Asya Pereltsvaig Author Of Languages of the World: An Introduction

From my list on how human language works.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by languages since my teenage years, when, in addition to my native Russian, I learned English, French, Spanish, Latin, Hebrew, and Esperanto to varying degrees of fluency. But it was in college that I decided to pursue linguistics as a profession, in part influenced by one of the books on my list! After 20 years of doing scientific research and teaching linguistics at different universities, I switched gears and now focus on bringing linguistic science to the general audience of lifelong learners. Even if you don’t change your career, like I did, I hope you enjoy reading the books on my list as much as I have!  

Asya's book list on how human language works

Asya Pereltsvaig Why did Asya love this book?

This book is why I decided to become a professional linguist! It’s a classic: it set the bar high for writing about language in a way that’s scientifically accurate yet gripping.

I was utterly mesmerized by a myriad of things Pinker talks about, like Nicaraguan Sign Language, Broca’s area in the brain, and the workings of words like “riff-raff” and “ding-dong” (and why we don’t say “raff-riff” or “dong-ding”). I also love the author’s fascination with, and admiration for, the beauty and complexity of human language and of the human mind. 

By Steven Pinker,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Language Instinct as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Dazzling... Pinker's big idea is that language is an instinct...as innate to us as flying is to geese... Words can hardly do justice to the superlative range and liveliness of Pinker's investigations'
- Independent

'A marvellously readable book... illuminates every facet of human language: its biological origin, its uniqueness to humanity, it acquisition by children, its grammatical structure, the production and perception of speech, the pathology of language disorders and the unstoppable evolution of languages and dialects' - Nature


Book cover of Restorative Cities: Urban Design for Mental Health and Wellbeing

Sara Jensen Carr Author Of The Topography of Wellness: How Health and Disease Shaped the American Landscape

From my list on creating, building, and thinking about healthier places.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of architecture, urbanism, and landscape at Northeastern University in Boston, as well as a licensed architect and urban designer. I’ve always been fascinated by the ways the design of the world affects our decision-making, health, and opportunities, from the early days of my career designing hospitals to my current work researching and designing for green space equity and considering how we design in the age of pandemics and climate change. I hope these books, as well as my own writing and work, empower people to understand, ask for, and co-design healthier environments wherever they live, work, and play.

Sara's book list on creating, building, and thinking about healthier places

Sara Jensen Carr Why did Sara love this book?

I didn’t discuss mental health in my own book, simply because the topic so vast and nuanced it really needs a book of its own. Luckily, it’s comprehensively discussed in this new volume, with chapters such as “The green city,” “The active city,” and “The playable city.” There are several concrete examples here from the authors’ own research into “neurourbanism,” or the application of neuroscience to urban design and planning, which are fascinating to read. An overarching theme, which I have found in my own research as well, is that the more access everyone has to nature and parks, the more beneficial it is for better mental and physical health. 

By Jenny Roe, Layla McCay,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Restorative Cities as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Overcrowding, noise and air pollution, long commutes and lack of daylight can take a huge toll on the mental well-being of city-dwellers. With mental healthcare services under increasing pressure, could a better approach to urban design and planning provide a solution? The restrictions faced by city residents around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic has brought home just how much urban design can affect our mental health - and created an imperative to seize this opportunity. Restorative Cities explores a new way of designing cities, one which places mental health and wellness at the forefront. Establishing a blueprint for urban…


Book cover of The Architecture of Health: Hospital Design and the Construction of Dignity

Sara Jensen Carr Author Of The Topography of Wellness: How Health and Disease Shaped the American Landscape

From my list on creating, building, and thinking about healthier places.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of architecture, urbanism, and landscape at Northeastern University in Boston, as well as a licensed architect and urban designer. I’ve always been fascinated by the ways the design of the world affects our decision-making, health, and opportunities, from the early days of my career designing hospitals to my current work researching and designing for green space equity and considering how we design in the age of pandemics and climate change. I hope these books, as well as my own writing and work, empower people to understand, ask for, and co-design healthier environments wherever they live, work, and play.

Sara's book list on creating, building, and thinking about healthier places

Sara Jensen Carr Why did Sara love this book?

Michael Murphy is one of the co-founders of MASS Design Group, who may have seen profiled on 60 Minutes or in the Wall Street Journal. This design firm and nonprofit probably does some of the best and broadest work in health and justice-centered design, in projects from the United States to Haiti to Rwanda. I began my career in hospital design, and this book is both a history of innovative healthcare facilities but also provides an introduction to MASS Design’s incredibly innovative work in this sector and is beautifully and richly illustrated to boot.

By Michael P. Murphy, Jeffrey Mansfield,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Architecture of Health as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Architecture of Health is a story about the design and life of hospitals-about how they are born and evolve, about the forces that give them shape, and the shifts that conspire to render them inadequate. Reading architecture through the history of hospitals is a deciphering tool for unlocking the elemental principles of architecture and the intractable laws of human and social conditions that architecture serves in each of our lives.

This book encounters brilliant and visionary designers who were hospital architects but also systems designers, driven by the aim of social change. They faced the contradictions of health care in…


Book cover of Making Healthy Places: Designing and Building for Well-Being, Equity, and Sustainability

Sara Jensen Carr Author Of The Topography of Wellness: How Health and Disease Shaped the American Landscape

From my list on creating, building, and thinking about healthier places.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of architecture, urbanism, and landscape at Northeastern University in Boston, as well as a licensed architect and urban designer. I’ve always been fascinated by the ways the design of the world affects our decision-making, health, and opportunities, from the early days of my career designing hospitals to my current work researching and designing for green space equity and considering how we design in the age of pandemics and climate change. I hope these books, as well as my own writing and work, empower people to understand, ask for, and co-design healthier environments wherever they live, work, and play.

Sara's book list on creating, building, and thinking about healthier places

Sara Jensen Carr Why did Sara love this book?

This book is truly the primer for understanding all the ways in which urban planning, policy, and design effects health outcomes and collects the breadth of contemporary research on the topic in one volume. I have always assigned multiple chapters from the first book in one of my classes, which introduces students to these concepts, and will be making several updates to the syllabus now! The new second edition explores issues of health and environmental justice more in-depth, touches on COVID-19, and provides several examples of how cities and organizations have prioritized health in re-shaping their built environments.

By Nisha Botchwey (editor), Andrew L. Dannenberg (editor), Howard Frumkin (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Making Healthy Places as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first edition of Making Healthy Places offered a visionary and thoroughly researched treatment of the connections between constructed environments and human health. Since its publication over 10 years ago, the field of healthy community design has evolved significantly to address major societal problems, including health disparities, obesity, and climate change. Most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has upended how we live, work, learn, play, and travel.

In Making Healthy Places, Second Edition: Designing and Building for Well-Being, Equity, and Sustainability, planning and public health experts Nisha D. Botchwey, Andrew L. Dannenberg, and Howard Frumkin bring together scholars and practitioners from…


Book cover of Responsive Environments

Antony Radford Author Of The Elements of Modern Architecture: Understanding Contemporary Buildings

From my list on analysing architecture.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion as a teacher and writer is to help students and others interpret, understand and enjoy architecture and the built environment, and to help them respond in their own designs to the complexities of place, people, and construction. I have chosen five well-established books on analysing architecture that are highly illustrated, avoid jargon, can be explored rather than needing to be read sequentially cover-to-cover, and have lasting value. They offer guidance for beginning students and a checklist for the experienced. They are books to be kept handy and repeatedly consulted. Of course, analysing existing architecture is invaluable in designing new architecture. I hope you enjoy them.

Antony's book list on analysing architecture

Antony Radford Why did Antony love this book?

This book is as much about urban design and landscape architecture as about architecture, its annotated sketches demonstrating how good places respond to their contexts.

I like its straightforward, practical, and concise approach. Although billed as ‘a manual for designers’, it is equally useful in analysing why some environments work, both practically and emotionally, and others don’t.

It is opinionated, not afraid to criticise as well as applaud. 

By Ian Bentley (editor), Alan Alcock, Paul Murrain , Sue McGlynn , Graham Smith

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Responsive Environments as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Clearly demonstrates the specific characteristics that make for comprehensible, friendly and controllable places; 'Responsive Environments' - as opposed to the alienating environments often imposed today. By means of sketches and diagrams, it shows how they may be designed in to places or buildings.

This is a practical book about architecture and urban design. It is most concerned with the areas of design which most frequently go wrong and impresses the idea that ideals alone are not enough. Ideals must be linked through appropriate design ideas to the fabric of the built environemnt itself. This book is a practical attempt to…


Book cover of Architecture and Empire in Jamaica

Trevor Burnard Author Of Jamaica in the Age of Revolution

From my list on Jamaica during the period of slavery.

Why am I passionate about this?

Trevor Burnard is Wilberforce Professor of Slavery and Emancipation at the University of Hull and author of four books and many articles on eighteenth-century Jamaica. He has recently reviewed 34 books just published on Jamaica in “`Wi Lickle but Wi Tallawah’: Writing Jamaica into the Atlantic World, 1655-1834 Reviews in American History 49 (2021), 168-86.

Trevor's book list on Jamaica during the period of slavery

Trevor Burnard Why did Trevor love this book?

Beautifully illustrated and persuasively argued, this survey of a variety of architectural forms in the eighteenth century, from merchant houses to enslaved yards to great houses shows how studying the built environment of early Jamaica gives insight into a society both rich and highly conflicted.

By Louis P. Nelson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Architecture and Empire in Jamaica as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Through Creole houses and merchant stores to sugar fields and boiling houses, Jamaica played a leading role in the formation of both the early modern Atlantic world and the British Empire. Architecture and Empire in Jamaica offers the first scholarly analysis of Jamaican architecture in the long 18th century, spanning roughly from the Port Royal earthquake of 1692 to Emancipation in 1838. In this richly illustrated study, which includes hundreds of the author's own photographs and drawings, Louis P. Nelson examines surviving buildings and archival records to write a social history of architecture.

Nelson begins with an overview of the…


Book cover of Experiencing Architecture

Witold Rybczynski Author Of Charleston Fancy: Little Houses and Big Dreams in the Holy City

From my list on architecture for non-architects.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am professor emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania. Although I’ve written more than twenty books on a variety of subjects, I was trained as an architect and I’ve designed and built houses, researched low cost housing, and taught budding architects for four decades. I was architecture critic for Wigwag and Slate and I’ve written for numerous national magazines and newspapers. Perhaps more important, my wife and I built our own house, mixing concrete, sawing wood, and hammering nails. I wrote a book about that, too.

Witold's book list on architecture for non-architects

Witold Rybczynski Why did Witold love this book?

Many books about architecture are like cookbooks, that is, they are written for the cook—the architect—and are concerned with how to make the stuff. But for the lay person, the joy of architecture lies in the actual experience of buildings; good architecture makes you feel good. This classic, written in 1962 by a wise old Dane, is a wonderful guide to the many sensory ways in which we experience buildings, old and new.

By Steen Eiler Rasmussen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Experiencing Architecture as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A classic examination of superb design through the centuries.

Widely regarded as a classic in the field, Experiencing Architecture explores the history and promise of good design. Generously illustrated with historical examples of designing excellence—ranging from teacups, riding boots, and golf balls to the villas of Palladio and the fish-feeding pavilion of Beijing's Winter Palace—Rasmussen's accessible guide invites us to appreciate architecture not only as a profession, but as an art that shapes everyday experience.

In the past, Rasmussen argues, architecture was not just an individual pursuit, but a community undertaking. Dwellings were built with a natural feeling for place,…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in architecture, urban planning, and environmentalism?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about architecture, urban planning, and environmentalism.

Architecture Explore 78 books about architecture
Urban Planning Explore 50 books about urban planning
Environmentalism Explore 182 books about environmentalism