98 books like The Works

By Kate Ascher,

Here are 98 books that The Works fans have personally recommended if you like The Works. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction

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?

The first three books on my list concentrate on building form and space, with little about function.

The ‘pattern language’ is different, mapping human activities onto appropriate built forms, and advocating repeated patterns that have been found to work.

Christopher Alexander wants us to use the patterns in designing responses to situations, but they also help to judge how well-built spaces fit their contexts in analysing architecture.

Although Alexander maps activities onto his own preferred design style, the patterns are not inherently specific to any style or period of architecture.

Despite being written 50 years ago, this one-of-a-kind book is still fresh and relevant.

By Christopher Alexander,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

You can use this book to design a house for yourself with your family; you can use it to work with your neighbors to improve your town and neighborhood; you can use it to design an office, or a workshop, or a public building. And you can use it to guide you in the actual process of construction. After a ten-year silence, Christopher Alexander and his colleagues at the Center for Environmental Structure are now publishing a major statement in
the form of three books which will, in their words, "lay the basis for an entirely new approach to architecture,…

Book cover of The 99% Invisible City: A Field Guide to the Hidden World of Everyday Design

Conrad Kickert Author Of Dream City: Creation, Destruction, and Reinvention in Downtown Detroit

From my list on the exciting life of cities.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up in a Dutch city, I vividly remember witnessing the excitement of urban life through the windows of a streetcar, on foot, or by bike. Soon, I began to recreate this excitement by drawing maps of imaginary cities of my own. My small towns turned into entire regions, their streets coming to life as I closed my eyes. I essentially turned my childhood fascination into my job, as I now study, design, and teach students how to improve cities. Our best cities are places where citizens can interact with one another, overcoming social, economic, and environmental evolutions and revolutions. I never cease to be fascinated with the key to these everlasting cities.

Conrad's book list on the exciting life of cities

Conrad Kickert Why did Conrad love this book?

Read away, but the best way to understand cities is to go out and see them for yourself! This fun-to-read book is an excellent ‘travel guide’ for seeing all the different elements of cities that surround us on our everyday walks. From bollards and street lamps to entire street grids, cellphone systems, and even the names of the places we live and visit—all these parts and dimensions of our cities are the result of conscious decisions and debates. The authors vividly describe the back story of many urban objects and systems we often just take for granted, and they provide a plethora of great illustrations to show you what they mean. Trust me, after reading this book you’ll never see cities the same way.

By Roman Mars, Kurt Kohlstedt,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The 99% Invisible City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


Out now: The most entertaining and fascinating book about architecture and design, from the wildly popular podcast 99% Invisible.

A New York Times Bestseller

'Full of surprises and quirky information . . . a fascinating journey through the over-familiar.' - Financial Times, Best Books of 2020

'[A] diverse and enlightening book . . . The 99% Invisible City is altogether fresh and imaginative when it comes to thinking about urban spaces.' -The New York Times Book Review

'A delightful book about the under-appreciated wonders of good design' - Tim Harford, bestselling author of The Undercover Economist and Fifty…

Book cover of Home: A Short History of an Idea

Sally Stone Author Of Inside Information: The Defining Concepts of Interior Design

From my list on the future of the interior.

Why am I passionate about this?

For more than thirty years I have been discussing, formulating ideas, and writing about Architecture, Building Reuse, and Interiors. I lead the MA Architecture and Adaptive Reuse programme and direct graduate atelier Continuity in Architecture at the Manchester School of Architecture. I am currently the Visiting Professor at the University IUAV of Venice where I am conducting research on the sustainable adaptation of existing buildings with particular emphasis on the environmental concerns within the inherently fragile city of Venice.

Sally's book list on the future of the interior

Sally Stone Why did Sally love this book?

Home discusses the complex series of factors that have generated the house as we understand it today. The chapters can be read independently as discussions on, for example, the evolution of comfort or the organisation of the different spaces. However, the book also builds into a fascinating argument for revisiting some of the pre-modern ideas of communal living, shared spaces, and live-work relationships. 

By Witold Rybczynski,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Walk through five centuries of homes both great and small from the smoke-filled manor halls of the Middle Ages to today's Ralph Lauren-designed environments on a house tour like no other, one that delightfully explicates the very idea of "home."

You'll see how social and cultural changes influenced styles of decoration and furnishing, learn the connection between wall-hung religious tapestries and wall-to-wall carpeting, discover how some of our most welcome luxuries were born of architectural necessity, and much more. Most of all, Home opens a rare window into our private lives and how we really want to live.

Book cover of Material World: A Global Family Portrait

Blaine Brownell Author Of Transmaterial: A Catalog of Materials That Redefine Our Physical Environment

From my list on the world of materials.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an architect, professor, and director of the School of Architecture at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Throughout my career, I've sought to empower people to improve the designed environment through better knowledge of materials. I've written nine books and many articles on emerging materials, sustainable building technologies, and Japanese architecture and design. Having lived in Japan several times, I also appreciate the importance of developing an expanded worldview of material practices.

Blaine's book list on the world of materials

Blaine Brownell Why did Blaine love this book?

Global socioeconomic diversity is an important yet abstract concept, but this book offers tangible evidence.

Household material wealth varies significantly worldwide in both quantity and quality. To reveal this diverse range, sixteen photographers visited thirty countries and lived briefly with families considered statistically average for their nation.

In the book, each family stands before their abode with all their household possessions. Suffice it to say that contrasts abound.

By Peter Menzel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Called “Fascinating! An incredible book” by Oprah Winfrey, this beloved photography collection vividly portrays the look and feel of the human condition everywhere on Earth.

In an unprecedented effort, sixteen of the world’s foremost photographers traveled to thirty nations around the globe to live for a week with families that were statistically average for that nation. At the end of each visit, photographer and family collaborated on a remarkable portrait of the family members outside their home, surrounded by all of their possessions; a few jars and jugs for some, an explosion of electronic gadgetry for others.

This internationally acclaimed…

Book cover of Underground

Stephen Graham Author Of Vertical: The City from Satellites to Bunkers

From my list on the subterranean of cities.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been obsessed with the material aspects of places - and the infrastructures that make them work - since I was a really young boy! (I remember, aged around 7, sitting on a bridge over the M6 motorway near Preston watching the traffic). This obsession was channeled into studying Geography, becoming a qualified urban planner, and completing a Ph.D. on how digital technologies effect urban life. A preoccupation with the subterranean realms of cities is also long-standing; it drove the 'Below' parts of my 2016 book Vertical: The City From Satellites to Bunkers. (I must admit I suffer from both claustropobia and vertigo! So, sadly, a lot of my work is necessarily desk-based!)

Stephen's book list on the subterranean of cities

Stephen Graham Why did Stephen love this book?

Because the ground itself obscures virtually all of the subterranean worlds of cities, the best way to actually represent and visualise them is through drawings and diagrams.

This book opened my eyes – as it has done for many – to the complexity, density, and depth of the foundations, pipes, tunnels, conduits, and infrastructures below cities.

In it, David Macaulay uses his unequalled drawing skills to illustrate everything from sewer valves; skyscraper foundations; the worlds beneath manholes to an amazing cross-section of New York showing shipping lanes, deep transport tunnels, and huge skyscrapers whose hidden, deep pile foundations can be almost as deep as their above-surface structures. 

By David Macaulay,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

David Macaulay takes us on a visual journey through a city's various support systems by exposing a typical section of the underground network and explaining how it works. We see a network of walls, columns, cables, pipes and tunnels required to satisfy the basic needs of a city's inhabitants.

Book cover of Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution

Alexander Stahle Author Of Closer Together: This is the Future of Cities

From my list on future cities and urban design.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a city researcher and urban planner I must constantly scan the urban world for trends and plans and projects. It really started when I was writing my PhD thesis on density and green spaces in cities. The thesis title became Compact Sprawl. I like counterpoints. Today I run to companies. Spacescape that is an urban planning consultancy and Placetoplan that is a webapp for citizen participation in planning. My home is covered with books about cities, architecture, transportation, parks, and natural landscapes. I am also a landscape architect, by the way. And I live in downtown Stockholm with two children and no car.

Alexander's book list on future cities and urban design

Alexander Stahle Why did Alexander love this book?

Janette Sadik-Khan is one of my absolute heroes. What she has done to transportation and streets in North America and globally is unprecedented. She has not only described why we must change our view of traffic in cities, she also described how and was able to make it real. As New York City’s transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan managed to transform the streets of one of the world’s greatest, toughest cities into dynamic spaces safe for pedestrians and cyclists. Simply painting a part of the street to make it into a plaza or bus lane not only made the street safer, but it also lessened congestion and increased foot traffic, which improved businesses. Streetfight deconstructs, reassembles, and reinvents the future street.

By Janette Sadik-Khan, Seth Solomonow,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Like a modern-day Jane Jacobs, Janette Sadik-Khan transformed New York City's streets to make room for pedestrians, cyclists, buses, and green spaces. Describing the battles she fought to enact change, Streetfight imparts wisdom and practical advice that other cities can follow to make their own streets safer and more vibrant.

As New York City’s transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan managed the seemingly impossible and transformed the streets of one of the world’s greatest, toughest cities into dynamic spaces safe for pedestrians and cyclists. Her approach was dramatic and effective: Simply painting a part of the street to make it into a…

Book cover of New York Recentered: Building the Metropolis from the Shore

Jonathan H. Rees Author Of The Fulton Fish Market: A History

From my list on the history of New York City.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m Professor of History at Colorado State University Pueblo and have published eight books, mostly about the history of food. After encountering Up in the Old Hotel for the first time during the early 1990s, I started reading New York City history in my spare time. The Fulton Fish Market: A History is my way to blend my expertise with my hobby. Each of these books are beautifully written, informative, and fun. If you’re interested in the history of New York City and you’re looking for something else to read, I hope you’ll find my book to be the same.

Jonathan's book list on the history of New York City

Jonathan H. Rees Why did Jonathan love this book?

Speaking of consolidation, I wanted to throw in a book that is both shorter and not yet a classic so that even people who are deep into this subject will find something new to read. 

Schlichting’s book is a history of the development of New York City edges. As a New Jerseyite who barely spent any time outside of midtown Manhattan while growing up, most of these places might as well as have been the ends of the earth, but they’re still important because they’re still part of the City. 

I’m sure a lot of New Yorkers will feel the same way, which will make the history of the Upper East River or Flushing Meadows seem fresh and new to you too.  

By Kara Murphy Schlichting,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked New York Recentered as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The history of New York City's urban development often centers on titanic municipal figures like Robert Moses and on prominent inner Manhattan sites like Central Park. New York Recentered boldly shifts the focus to the city's geographic edges--the coastlines and waterways--and to the small-time unelected locals who quietly shaped the modern city. Kara Murphy Schlichting details how the vernacular planning done by small businessmen and real estate operators, performed independently of large scale governmental efforts, refigured marginal locales like Flushing Meadows and the shores of Long Island Sound and the East River in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.…

Book cover of Twin Towers: The Life of New York City's World Trade Center

Jason M. Barr Author Of Cities in the Sky: The Quest to Build the World's Tallest Skyscrapers

From my list on real estate titans built New York skyline.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an economics professor, I’ve spent the past twenty years researching why cities build upward. Though I mostly look at cities through the lens of statistics and data, every building has a personal and dramatic story that exists behind the numbers. And no matter where you go in the world, great cities with their towering skyscrapers all owe a debt to New York—every city wants its own version of the Empire State Building to signal its economic might. New York is the world’s metropolis. As the (now cliché) song line goes, “If I can make there, I’ll make it anywhere,” is a true today as a century ago.

Jason's book list on real estate titans built New York skyline

Jason M. Barr Why did Jason love this book?

From 2000 to 2001, I worked two blocks south of the Twin Towers. During my lunch breaks, I would grab take-out lunches and sit in the plaza of the World Trade Center, with the towers keeping me company. When completed, the Twin Towers generated immense controversy because they were “slum clearance” projects, and a government agency was erecting record-breaking buildings to compete with the private sector.

Gillespie’s book chronicles the creation of the Twin Towers and how the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, a port and transportation agency, suddenly found itself as a real estate titan. The book captures a moment in post-World War II New York that will likely never be replicated. It remains a key history in our post-9/11 world.

By Angus Kress Gillespie,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A readable account of both the history of the construction of the Twin Towers and the life of the people who work there.

The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center are more than office buildings. They are symbols of America, just as the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben represent their countries. Commissioned in 1962 and completed in 1976, these edifices are still the tallest man-made structures in New York City. Indeed, the builders intended the towers to make a statement about the importance of the Port of New York and New Jersey. The complex rises like Emerald City, with…

Book cover of The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1811-2011

Lynne B. Sagalyn Author Of Times Square Remade: The Dynamics of Urban Change

From my list on exciting a passion for understanding cities.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with understanding cities toward the end of my college studies. It was the late 1960s and urban issues were foremost in the nation’s consciousness. The times were difficult for cities and many of the problems, seemingly intractable. That drew me to graduate work in urban studies and afterward, teaching about real estate development and finance. My work on public/private partnerships and the political economy of city building has drawn a wide audience. In explaining how cities are built and redeveloped, my goal has been to de-mystify the politics and planning process surrounding large-scale development projects and how they impact the physical fabric of cities.

Lynne's book list on exciting a passion for understanding cities

Lynne B. Sagalyn Why did Lynne love this book?

Time and time again, I refer to this book because it is chock full of fascinating history about New York told in an unusual way.

Packed with beautifully reproduced photos on every page, it takes as its subject the seemingly dull characteristic of urban experience—the street grid—and fashions over 200 short succinct stories of people, politics, and real estate development. It’s a bravo book.

By Hilary Ballon (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Laying out Manhattan's street grid and providing a rationale for the growth of New York was the city's first great civic enterprise, not to mention a brazenly ambitious project and major milestone in the history of city planning. The grid created the physical conditions for business and society to flourish and embodied the drive and discipline for which the city would come to be known. Published to coincide with an exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York celebrating the bicentennial of the Commissioners' 1811 Plan of Manhattan, this volume does more than memorialize such a visionary effort,…

Book cover of The City of To-morrow and Its Planning

Mary Soderstrom Author Of Concrete: From Ancient Origins to a Problematic Future

From my list on to design a workable, walkable, wonderful city.

Why am I passionate about this?

I like to say I'm a born-again pedestrian. After a childhood in car-friendly Southern California, I moved first to the San Francisco Bay Area and then to Montreal. There I discovered the pleasures of living in walkable cities, and over the years I've explored them in a series of books about people, nature, and urban spaces in which the problems of spread-out, concrete-heavy cities take a front-row seat. The impact of the way we've built our cities over the last 100 years is becoming apparent, as carbon dioxide rises, driving climate changes. We must change the way we live, and the books I suggest give some insights about what to do and what not to do.

Mary's book list on to design a workable, walkable, wonderful city

Mary Soderstrom Why did Mary love this book?

Read this book if you care about cities. True, you may want to throw it across the room at times (I did),  but it is one of the most influential books of the 20th century and you should know your enemies. Written shortly after World War I when automobiles were beginning to clog streets, its author Le Corbusier had good intentions. He thought narrow crowded streets should be replaced by apartment towers set on green lawns. He used concrete boldly, opened up the interiors of buildings so light could flood in, and insisted that residences be far away from industry and commerce. But while the model can work for luxury housing, it doesn't work when neighborhoods are destroyed to build these high-rise blocks, and separating work from home by automobile-only roads means urban sprawl. 

By Le Corbusier, Frederick Etchells (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The City of To-morrow and Its Planning as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this 1929 classic, the great architect Le Corbusier turned from the design of houses to the planning of cities, surveying urban problems and venturing bold new solutions. The book shocked and thrilled a world already deep in the throes of the modern age.
Today it is revered as a work that, quite literally, helped to shape our world. Le Corbusier articulates concepts and ideas he would put to work in his city planning schemes for Algiers, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Barcelona, Geneva, Stockholm, and Antwerp, as well as schemes for a variety of structures from a…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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