The best architecture books

Who picked these books? Meet our 50 experts.

50 authors created a book list connected to architecture, and here are their favorite architecture books.
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The Architecture of Health

By Michael P. Murphy, Jeffrey Mansfield,

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 the list on creating, building, and thinking about healthier places.

Who am I?

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

Discover why each book is one of Sara's favorite books.

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 Frank Lloyd Wright and Japan: The Role of Traditional Japanese Art and Architecture in the Work of Frank Lloyd Wright

Simon Unwin Author Of Analysing Architecture: the Universal Language of Place-Making

From the list on traditional architecture and its contemporary practice.

Who am I?

As a student fifty years ago I struggled with architecture. I have spent my whole career as an architect and teacher trying to understand how it works. All my books are intended to convey that understanding to others as clearly as I can. I believe that architecture is a universal language of place-making, simply and directly expressed in the traditional architectures of different cultures around the world, and lifted into the realms of poetry by some gifted individuals. For many years I taught at the Welsh School of Architecture in Cardiff, Wales. I am currently Professor Emeritus at The University of Dundee in Scotland. 

Simon's book list on traditional architecture and its contemporary practice

Discover why each book is one of Simon's favorite books.

Why did Simon love this book?

All of my recommendations are about the ways modern architects have learnt from traditional architecture. The first appeared when I began working on the first edition of Analysing Architecture back in the 1990s. It is Kevin Nute’s exploration of the ideas that Frank Lloyd Wright gleaned from encounters with traditional Japanese architecture in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Nute’s book influenced my perception of architectural creativity as not fitting neatly into separate historical/stylistic categories, but as a realm of possible cross-fertilisation across cultures.

By Kevin Nute,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Frank Lloyd Wright and Japan as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book is the first thorough account of Frank Lloyd Wright's relationship with Japan and its arts. It presents significant new information on the nature and extent of Wright's formal and philosophical debt to Japanese art and architecture.

Eight primary channels of influence are examined in detail, from Japanese prints to specific individuals and publications, and the evidence of their impact on Wright is illustrated through a mixture of textual and drawn analyses.


Home

By Witold Rybczynski,

Book cover of Home: A Short History of an Idea

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

From the list on the future of the interior.

Who am I?

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

Discover why each book is one of Sally's favorite books.

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 Just Enough Software Architecture: A Risk-Driven Approach

Mark Richards Author Of Fundamentals of Software Architecture: An Engineering Approach

From the list on better understanding software architecture.

Who am I?

I’ve been a software architect for a very long time. I love hard problems, and I’m very passionate about collaborating with others to find the right solution to them. Software architecture is a challenging, multi-faceted discipline with very few resources to help you make the right decisions. That’s why I’m recommending these books on software architecture. These books helped me become a more effective software architect, and I hope they can help you become more effective as well.

Mark's book list on better understanding software architecture

Discover why each book is one of Mark's favorite books.

Why did Mark love this book?

Why should you spend so much time working on the software architecture of a system? Does it really matter?

This book made me realize that not all systems need the same effort of software architecture to make them successful. If you’re building a doghouse, very little planning is needed—all you need is some wood, nails, a hammer, and a saw. If you are building a skyscraper, you need a significant amount of planning and architecture, or the building will collapse.

In this book the author also talks about risk-based architecture—determining how much architecture is needed based on risk, a perspective I found very helpful in my career as an architect. 

By George Fairbanks,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is a practical guide for software developers, and different than other software architecture books. Here's why:

It teaches risk-driven architecting. There is no need for meticulous designs when risks are small, nor any excuse for sloppy designs when risks threaten your success. This book describes a way to do just enough architecture. It avoids the one-size-fits-all process tar pit with advice on how to tune your design effort based on the risks you face.

It democratizes architecture. This book seeks to make architecture relevant to all software developers. Developers need to understand how to use constraints as guiderails that…


Understanding Architecture

By Robert McCarter, Juhani Pallasmaa,

Book cover of Understanding Architecture

Laura Dushkes Author Of The Architect Says: Quotes, Quips, and Words of Wisdom

From the list on architecture for non-experts.

Who am I?

When I was young, my parents gave me a book of quotations. I was hooked. Now I’m the solo librarian for NBBJ, a design firm with 12 offices worldwide and I select and buy books for all 12 offices. I search for the best books to inspire the designers I work with. But I’m aware that not everyone who works for an architectural firm is an architect. We have people in accounting, facilities, tech services, and more. I try to have a selection of books for these people, too – people who are interested in architecture, but aren’t experts. I have a Master’s in medieval history and a Master's in Library and Information Science.

Laura's book list on architecture for non-experts

Discover why each book is one of Laura's favorite books.

Why did Laura love this book?

I love this book for its approach to teaching about architecture. It’s not a textbook primer on the subject that starts with the ancient world and ends in the modern world. Instead, it covers the basic principles of architecture by covering themes, such as light, landscape, place, and matter. Each theme is illuminated by examples of buildings from the Egyptian pyramids to Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright. The text is easy to read and each example has ample photographs. Truly accessible to all.

By Robert McCarter, Juhani Pallasmaa,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Intended both as an introductory text for students and professionals in the field as well as an accessible read for the general public, Primer on Architecture (working title) addresses the basic principles of architecture and uncovers its ongoing influence in contemporary culture. The volume is organized in a series of chapters based on key architectural themes--space, time, matter, gravity, light, silence, dwelling, ritual, memory, landscape, and place--with an introductory essay for each chapter that includes a wide variety of historical examples from around the world followed by more in depth analyses of key buildings that further exemplify the theme of…


Analysing Architecture

By Simon Unwin,

Book cover of Analysing Architecture: the Universal Language of Place-Making

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

From the list on analysing architecture.

Who am I?

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

Discover why each book is one of Antony's favorite books.

Why did Antony love this book?

If it’s good, this book should obviously be on my list - and it is good.

Simon Unwin explains how architectural themes (a mix including elements, geometries, types, and sensory experience) work together to create a particular place. It has thoughtful text illustrated with his own drawings.

Unwin’s Twenty-Five Buildings Every Architect Should Understand demonstrates his approach to analysis in more detailed examples.

By Simon Unwin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Now in its fifth edition, Analysing Architecture has become internationally established as the best introduction to architecture. Aimed primarily at those studying architecture, it offers a clear and accessible insight into the workings of this rich and fascinating subject. With copious illustrations from his own notebooks, the author dissects examples from around the world and all periods of history to explain the underlying strategies in architectural design and show how drawing may be used as a medium for analysis.

In this new edition, Analysing Architecture has been revised and expanded. Notably, the chapter on 'How Analysis Can Help Design' has…


Someone Builds the Dream

By Lisa Wheeler, Loren Long (illustrator),

Book cover of Someone Builds the Dream

Colleen Paeff Author Of The Great Stink: How Joseph Bazalgette Solved London's Poop Pollution Problem

From the list on the infrastructure of our cities.

Who am I?

I never thought much about what makes our cities habitable until I started doing research for The Great Stink. But learning about sewers and wastewater treatment (They’re surprisingly interesting!) turned out to be the beginning of a fascination with other types of city infrastructure that I had previously ignored. Kids have a natural fascination for infrastructure of all kinds, but I was surprised when I couldn’t find any lists of picture books that group different types of city infrastructure together. So, I made one. I hope you and your little ones like these books as much as I did, and I hope you find many similar books to enjoy!

Colleen's book list on the infrastructure of our cities

Discover why each book is one of Colleen's favorite books.

Why did Colleen love this book?

What I love about this book is that instead of focusing on the engineers, architects, artists, and other high-profile designers who tend to get the credit for creating so much of what we see in our cities–it focuses on the laborers who take their plans and make them a reality. Someone Builds the Dream will get kids (and their parents) thinking more about the building process and the people who spend their days putting together the parts of the many buildings, bridges, fountains, and other structures that come together to create a city. Young children will love the rhyming text and older ones will find much to wonder about as they scan the vibrant illustrations.

By Lisa Wheeler, Loren Long (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Someone Builds the Dream as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

All across this great big world, jobs are getting done

by many hands in many lands. It takes much more than ONE.

Gorgeously written and illustrated, this is an eye-opening exploration of the many types of work that go into building our world - from the making of a bridge to a wind farm, an amusement park, and even the very picture book that you are reading. An architect may dream up the plans for a house, but someone has to actually work the saws and pound the nails. This book is a thank-you to the skilled women and men…


No Place Like Utopia

By Peter Blake,

Book cover of No Place Like Utopia: Modern Architecture and the Company We Kept

Stephanie Travis Author Of Sketching for Architecture + Interior Design: A Practical Guide on Sketching for Architecture and Interior Design Students

From the list on introducing architecture and interior design to everyone.

Who am I?

I am a design-obsessed George Washington University (Washington, DC) professor, author, architect, interior designer, sketcher, modernist, city lover, traveler, and University of Michigan alumni who writes about topics on architecture and interior design for people of all ages and backgrounds. Everyone lives in the built environment, but not everyone understands it. For example, sketching is one of the best ways to understand a piece of furniture, interior, or building. You will never see the object the same way after you draw it! All of the books on this list are approachable, interesting, fun, and most importantly inspiring. Enjoy!

Stephanie's book list on introducing architecture and interior design to everyone

Discover why each book is one of Stephanie's favorite books.

Why did Stephanie love this book?

Hands down, the best book on modern architecture from someone who lived it. Peter Blake was an architect and renowned critic who ran in serious architectural circles during the modern movement. As editor-in-chief of Architectural Forum, he was an expert on the topic and knew everyone involved. His engaging and approachable writing style makes this a must-read for every budding modernist. I re-read this book every year…it’s that good.

By Peter Blake,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked No Place Like Utopia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Brings to life the masters of twentieth-century architecture and art, sharing anecdotes and memories of Frank Lloyd Wright, Buckminster Fuller, Le Corbusier, Jackson Pollock, and others


Architecture

By Geoffrey Makstutis,

Book cover of Architecture: An Introduction

Stephanie Travis Author Of Sketching for Architecture + Interior Design: A Practical Guide on Sketching for Architecture and Interior Design Students

From the list on introducing architecture and interior design to everyone.

Who am I?

I am a design-obsessed George Washington University (Washington, DC) professor, author, architect, interior designer, sketcher, modernist, city lover, traveler, and University of Michigan alumni who writes about topics on architecture and interior design for people of all ages and backgrounds. Everyone lives in the built environment, but not everyone understands it. For example, sketching is one of the best ways to understand a piece of furniture, interior, or building. You will never see the object the same way after you draw it! All of the books on this list are approachable, interesting, fun, and most importantly inspiring. Enjoy!

Stephanie's book list on introducing architecture and interior design to everyone

Discover why each book is one of Stephanie's favorite books.

Why did Stephanie love this book?

This is one of the best introductions to architecture out there. It talks about buildings and the profession, and introduces users to key ideas and concepts in architecture history and theory. It’s an overall primer for anyone interested in discipline. Oh, and it’s a beautiful book, too, with stunning examples of projects that will hook any novice on the architecture field at large.

By Geoffrey Makstutis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This book offers a thorough introduction to the entire field of architecture, outlining the steps that are normally taken in becoming a qualified architect, from initial education right through to professional practice, as well as how to apply this architectural training in other fields.

Complete with feature spreads on individual projects, Architecture: An Introduction's broad, up-to-date approach unites history, theory and practice. Subjects covered include how to develop a brief with a client; taking an idea from brief to project; types of visual presentation including drawings, models and computer renderings; project planning and management; the diverse roles within a company;…


The Eyes of the Skin

By Juhani Pallasmaa,

Book cover of The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses

Hannah Platts Author Of Multisensory Living in Ancient Rome: Power and Space in Roman Houses

From the list on multisensory history.

Who am I?

My passion for ancient history and archaeology began in secondary school when I started learning Latin and we were taken on a field trip to Fishbourne Roman Palace. By the time I started my MA at Bristol, my obsession with ancient Roman housing was well and truly established, and it quickly became clear to me that this was the area that I wanted to study for my PhD. Now as an Associate Professor in Ancient History and Archaeology at Royal Holloway, University of London, I have been very lucky to study and teach a range of areas in ancient history and archaeology, including my beloved area of the Roman domestic realm. 

Hannah's book list on multisensory history

Discover why each book is one of Hannah's favorite books.

Why did Hannah love this book?

Exploring how and why Romans built their houses to impact all bodily senses sits at the heart of my book.

Whilst interest in planning and building for such full body experiences in architecture today has declined, Pallasmaa’s The Eyes of the Skin presents a compelling argument for the importance of understanding the role of the multiple bodily senses in our experience of built spaces around us.

Divided into two main sections, the first of these examines the pre-eminence of sight in the West and its detrimental impact on architectural practise and our built environs.

The second part considers the role played our other bodily senses in experiencing architecture and proposes a new approach to building design and construction which seeks to integrate full sensory experience into the architectural process.

By Juhani Pallasmaa,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Eyes of the Skin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First published in 1996, The Eyes of the Skin has become a classic of architectural theory. For every new intake of students studying Pallasmaa s classic text, The Eyes of the Skin provides a totally fresh understanding of architecture and a new set of insights. This third edition is intended to meet students desire for a further understanding of the context of Pallasmaa s thinking by providing a new essay by architectural author and educator Peter MacKeith. This text combines both a biographical portrait of Pallasmaa and an outline of his architectural thinking. The new edition will includes a new…


Book cover of Architecture of the Absurd: How "Genius" Disfigured a Practical Art

Laura Dushkes Author Of The Architect Says: Quotes, Quips, and Words of Wisdom

From the list on architecture for non-experts.

Who am I?

When I was young, my parents gave me a book of quotations. I was hooked. Now I’m the solo librarian for NBBJ, a design firm with 12 offices worldwide and I select and buy books for all 12 offices. I search for the best books to inspire the designers I work with. But I’m aware that not everyone who works for an architectural firm is an architect. We have people in accounting, facilities, tech services, and more. I try to have a selection of books for these people, too – people who are interested in architecture, but aren’t experts. I have a Master’s in medieval history and a Master's in Library and Information Science.

Laura's book list on architecture for non-experts

Discover why each book is one of Laura's favorite books.

Why did Laura love this book?

Although not an architect or critic, Silber takes on the “Starchitect” who designs, not for the user, but for ego. Offering examples such as Liebeskind’s Royal Ontario Museum and Gehry’s Stata Center at MIT, Silber offers a bold argument that many of our leading lights too enmeshed in Archi-speak and have convinced clients to approve projects that don’t work. You may disagree with the author, but this slim volume will get you to think.

By John Silber,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Have you ever wondered why the Guggenheim is always covered in scaffolding? Why the slashes on the exterior of Libeskind's Jewish Museum, supposed to represent Jewish life in prewar Berlin, reappear, for no reason, on his Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto? Or why Gehry's design for an MIT lab for sensitive research has glass walls? Not to mention why, for $44.2 per square foot, it doesn't keep out the rain? You're not alone.
In Architecture of the Absurd, John Silber dares to peek behind the curtain of "genius" architects and expose their willful disdain for their clients, their budgets, and…


Book cover of Picture and Poetry, 1560-1620: Relations Between Literature and the Visual Arts in the English Renaissance

Elizabeth Goldring Author Of Nicholas Hilliard: Life of an Artist

From the list on Tudor art and architecture.

Who am I?

I have been fascinated by the Tudors since childhood – in spite of, or perhaps because of, the fact that I grew up in the American Midwest, where Tudor artefacts were few and far between. A family holiday to England, when I was fourteen, sparked the beginning of a life-long love affair, which I have been lucky enough to turn into a career focused on all things Tudor. After receiving my PhD from Yale University, I took up a post-doctoral fellowship in England, at Warwick University, with which I have been affiliated ever since. I am currently an Honorary Reader at Warwick and working on a new book, on Hans Holbein.

Elizabeth's book list on Tudor art and architecture

Discover why each book is one of Elizabeth's favorite books.

Why did Elizabeth love this book?

A quirky and brilliantly insightful book which is now, unfortunately, out of print. But do snap it up if you chance upon it in a second-hand bookshop or can find a copy online. It is deceptively modest-looking: a slender paperback, with only a handful of illustrations. My hunch is that it will change the way you think about paintings, sculptures, and buildings in the works of Shakespeare, Spenser, Donne, and their contemporaries. Certainly, that is the effect it had on me.

By Lucy Gent,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Picture and Poetry, 1560-1620 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An interdisciplinary study that shows how works of art influenced English poets in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Included in the appendix is a survey of the ownership and distribution of books of art and architecture in English Renaissance libraries. Very light foxing on front panel. iv , 100 pages. stiff paper wrappers. small 8vo..


Book cover of London’s Historic Railway Stations

Christian Wolmar Author Of Cathedrals of Steam: How London's Great Stations Were Built - And How They Transformed the City

From the list on the history of London’s railways.

Who am I?

I have written four books on London and its railway network. As well as Cathedrals of Steam, there is The Subterranean Railway, a history of the London Underground, and more recently, The Crossrail Story, which sets out the background to London’s newest and best railway that is due to open in 2022, and also, Down The Tube, the story of the way the London Underground was part-privatised and then taken back into state ownership. I have written a dozen other books on railways which are not technical tomes, nor aimed at trainspotters, but rather try to explain how railways were the catalyst for creating the modern world. The books on London combine my passion for the capital where I have lived all my life and my passion for the railways which has been a lifelong interest.

Christian's book list on the history of London’s railways

Discover why each book is one of Christian's favorite books.

Why did Christian love this book?

Another out of print effort, but very significant in both the authorship and the moment in time it captures. This was written as a memorial to the stations which Betjeman expected would be demolished following the fate in the early 1960s of Euston Staton. Betjeman tours round all the stations celebrating their architecture but bemoaning their fate and he helped create the movement which resisted further demolitions and eventually resulted in a lot of the stations being radically and successfully improved.

By John Betjeman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked London’s Historic Railway Stations as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

London's Historic Railway Stations


Case Study Houses

By Esther McCoy,

Book cover of Case Study Houses: 1945-1962

Chris Lukather Author Of Homes by Byrd: The Art & Architecture of Robert Byrd and His Son, Gary

From the list on Southern California architecture history.

Who am I?

I’ve always been interested in art and architecture. I studied Fine Arts at CalArts. I’ve written three books on Mid-century home builders and designers, William Mellenthin, Jean Vandruff, and Robert Byrd, whose life and work in Southern California had gone mostly unnoticed during their lifetimes—with very little information written about them in the press. I spent three years on each book working with the families to uncover their lives and place in local history. This is information that would have otherwise been lost. When you research the life of one person in this profession, you inevitably learn about the life and work of others—some famous, some not. 

Chris' book list on Southern California architecture history

Discover why each book is one of Chris' favorite books.

Why did Chris love this book?

Esther McCoy has long been admired for her writing on architecture in Southern California, particularly on the Case Study House program from 1945-1962.

This is a remarkable story of a once-in-a-lifetime program sponsored by Arts & Architecture magazine that brought together legendary architects, hopes and dreams, and some fantastic Mid-century Modern Homes.

Many of these Case Study homes are still standing today, and some are available to tour. You can also look up the addresses of these homes and drive by yourself.

By Esther McCoy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Since the popular Museum of Contemporary Art exhibit of 1989, Blueprint for Modern Living, much attention has been paid to the pioneering work done by the architects of the Case Study Program. Sponsored by John Entenza's Art & Architectue Magazine, the Case Study Houses program brought new thinking, techniques, and materials to post-war California house building. Contains the work of Charles Eames, Eero Saarinen, Craig Ellwood, Pierre Koenig, Richard Neutra, William Wurster, and others.


The Beautiful Necessity

By Claude Fayette Bragdon,

Book cover of The Beautiful Necessity

Shannon Taylor Scarlett Author Of Simple Rules: What the Oldtime Builders Knew

From the list on timeless architectural principles.

Who am I?

As a practicing architect, and an avid reader—in a variety of subjects and genres, not just architecture—I love finding patterns and connections between seemingly dissimilar phenomena. Patterns conform to principles, and principles are the fountainhead of wisdom that never runs dry. I will be the first to admit that, even after forty years of absorbing these and other kindred principles, I’m still far from consistent in applying them. And, like the others I cite, my own work suffers from that inconsistency. I commiserate with all architects who are similarly struggling to design buildings that exemplify even a few of the principles in these books. And that is why I chose them.

Shannon's book list on timeless architectural principles

Discover why each book is one of Shannon's favorite books.

Why did Shannon love this book?

One of my favorite books, this hidden gem was, unfortunately, for the world—as the author feared it might—spurned because of his association with Theosophy. When I accidentally discovered it a few years ago I was floored by the deep historical and philosophical connections he makes throughout his essays on architecture. In the first short essay, he sketches two-line symbols in a progression, with tight little summaries epitomizing each of the past ages of architecture, that surprisingly paralleled Spengler’s chapters on architecture in Decline of the West. His grasp of mathematics and his novel thoughts on its application in architecture are equally concise and mind-bending. In one essay he offers an elegant proposal for a modern style of ornamentation based on a four-dimensional hyper-space model. Beautiful necessity, a phrase taken from an essay by Emerson, was for Bragdon the essence and purpose of architecture itself. 

By Claude Fayette Bragdon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Beautiful Necessity-Seven Essays on Theosophy and Architecture is an art history classic by Claude Fayette Bragdon. One of the advantages of a thorough assimilation of what may be called the theosophic idea is that it can be applied with advantage to every department of knowledge and of human activity: like the key to a cryptogram it renders clear and simple that which before seemed intricate and obscure. Let us apply this key to the subject of art, and to the art of architecture in particular, and see if by so doing we may not learn more of art than…


Book cover of Turkish Architecture and Urbanism through the eyes of Le Corbusier

Simon Unwin Author Of Analysing Architecture: the Universal Language of Place-Making

From the list on traditional architecture and its contemporary practice.

Who am I?

As a student fifty years ago I struggled with architecture. I have spent my whole career as an architect and teacher trying to understand how it works. All my books are intended to convey that understanding to others as clearly as I can. I believe that architecture is a universal language of place-making, simply and directly expressed in the traditional architectures of different cultures around the world, and lifted into the realms of poetry by some gifted individuals. For many years I taught at the Welsh School of Architecture in Cardiff, Wales. I am currently Professor Emeritus at The University of Dundee in Scotland. 

Simon's book list on traditional architecture and its contemporary practice

Discover why each book is one of Simon's favorite books.

Why did Simon love this book?

Illustrated with many of the sketches made by Le Corbusier during his legendary 1911 ‘Journey to the East,’ when he travelled from northern Europe down to the Middle East, Kortan’s book examines the lessons possibly the greatest architect and urban designer of the twentieth century learnt from the traditional Ottoman architecture of Istanbul and Anatolia, including its poetic relationship between inhabitation and spatial organisation. This book is in Turkish, English, and French.

All these books have reinforced my understanding of architecture as a universal language of place-making shared by all cultures around the globe, and as the richest and endlessly fascinating expression of our relationship with the world in which we find ourselves…

By Enis Kortan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Turkish Architecture and Urbanism through the eyes of Le Corbusier as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

4th edition Editors: Translator: 155 pages.


The Re-Use Atlas

By Duncan Baker-Brown,

Book cover of The Re-Use Atlas: A Designer's Guide Towards the Circular Economy

Graeme Brooker Author Of 50/50 Words for Reuse: A Minifesto

From the list on interior architecture and reuse of buildings.

Who am I?

Graeme Brooker is a Professor and Head of Interior Design at the Royal College of Art London. He has written and published fifteen books on the histories and theories of inside spaces, many of which focus on the reuse of existing artefacts, buildings, and cities. Apart from teaching and writing, when he isn’t cycling, he is often staring intently at the sea in Brighton, where he currently lives.

Graeme's book list on interior architecture and reuse of buildings

Discover why each book is one of Graeme's favorite books.

Why did Graeme love this book?

The Re-Use Atlas is a timely and comprehensive book, overflowing with projects and ideas, work that is suffused with the compelling enthusiasm of its author and contributors. Upon the first reading of this Atlas, my initial reaction was how reliant all aspects of the book were on the abundance and also the scarcity of existing matter. It is this variability in the sources of the raw material for reuse that has led to the development and description of numerous, clever, engaged strategies for reworking existing materials and buildings. The Re-use Atlas brings these sensibilities into sharp focus, through the numerous ideas and people that it contains, and the exemplary projects that it meticulously depicts. 

By Duncan Baker-Brown,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Re-Use Atlas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book is a highly illustrated 'atlas', taking the reader on a journey via four distinct 'steps' (recycling, reuse, reduce, closed loop), from a linear economy towards a system emulating the natural world, i.e, a circular economy. Featuring over 25 detailed case studies describing design exemplars from the worlds of textile and fashion design, product design, interior architecture, architecture and urban design, this book's purpose is to show designers how they can successfully navigate and exploit the emerging field of resource management and the circular economy.

Each step is supplemented with an in depth interview with an expert who is…


Court and Garden

By Michael Dennis,

Book cover of Court and Garden: From the French Hôtel to the City of Modern Architecture

Joan DeJean Author Of How Paris Became Paris: The Invention of the Modern City

From the list on what makes a city great, especially Paris.

Who am I?

I’ve lived in cities all my adult life and currently divide my time between Paris and Philadelphia. And while those two cities are strikingly different places, they have in common the fact that they are both great walking cities –- urban centers that can be explored on foot and easily enjoyed by pedestrians. Walking cities, I believe, provide not only an ideal context for today’s tourists but also a model for a future in which urban dwellers become less reliant on automobiles and urban centers more open to foot traffic than to vehicular pollution and congestion. The books I’ll recommend deal in various ways with the building and rebuilding of visionary cities, and of Paris in particular.

Joan's book list on what makes a city great, especially Paris

Discover why each book is one of Joan's favorite books.

Why did Joan love this book?

This book focuses on the role of modern architecture in Paris, and by “modern,” Dennis has in mind the architecture created during the reinvention of Paris in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Dennis provides the best introduction to a crucial factor in Paris’s essence: the particular kind of residential architecture that became characteristic of the cityscape in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: the hôtel or townhouse. Great architecture helps make a city great, and in Paris in particular, much of the greatest modern architecture was originally residential – grand townhouses built for the wealthiest Parisians.

Today, most of these townhouses have become museums, government ministries, foreign embassies. With its focus on the relation between public and private space in the city and the ways in which residential architecture can and should function in relation to the streets and the public space in which it is embedded, Dennis’s work is essential…

By Michael Dennis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The "tyranny of the private realm" is destroying our cities. Modern architecture, with its insistence on the mute object and its rejection of the conventions of street and square, has abdicated civic responsibility and eschewed the urban forms that express and promote it. In this eloquent and extensively illustrated study of the evolution of a modern conception of space, Michael Dennis explores the social, psychological, and especially the formal transformations that that led architects to trade the city of public space for a city of private icons. The French hôtel, an aristocratic town house developed largely in Paris between 1550…


Book cover of How to Make Sense of Any Mess: Information Architecture for Everybody

Gregg Bernstein Author Of Research Practice: Perspectives from UX researchers in a changing field

From the list on understanding user research.

Who am I?

After a career that took me from designer to design professor, I’ve spent the past decade leading user research practices for growing product organizations. I’m excited about user research because it positions us closer to the people we design for, and challenges us to capture and explain complex scenarios in service to them. Though there are many books that teach user research, my list of recommendations is meant to demonstrate why we research, how we make sense of what we learn, and where research might take us.

Gregg's book list on understanding user research

Discover why each book is one of Gregg's favorite books.

Why did Gregg love this book?

If you're a researcher, designer, content strategist, writer, developer, etc., you work with information. And while that information might be understandable to you, it likely isn't clear to your audience or users. That's where this book comes in. Abby Covert transforms the scary, frustrating process of bringing order to information and makes it feel achievable in this enjoyable read.

By Abby Covert,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Make Sense of Any Mess as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Everything is getting more complex. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the amount of information we encounter each day. Whether at work, at school, or in our personal endeavors, there’s a deepening (and inescapable) need for people to work with and understand information.

Information architecture is the way that we arrange the parts of something to make it understandable as a whole. When we make things for others to use, the architecture of information that we choose greatly affects our ability to deliver our intended message to our users.We all face messes made of information and people.

This book…


The Gothic Revival

By Kenneth Clark,

Book cover of The Gothic Revival: An Essay in the History of Taste

Rosemary Hill Author Of God's Architect: Pugin and the Building of Romantic Britain

From the list on the way that architecture reflects British history.

Who am I?

Since childhood I have wanted to know why things look as they do. Every object expresses what was once an idea in someone’s mind. Looking from things to the people who made them and back again, we understand both better. This single question has led me through a lifetime of writing about material culture, architecture, applied art and craft. I have written books about Stonehenge, the Gothic Revival and antiquarianism in the Romantic age. I also hosted a podcast series, for the London Review of Books

Rosemary's book list on the way that architecture reflects British history

Discover why each book is one of Rosemary's favorite books.

Why did Rosemary love this book?

This was the first book about architecture I read and it remains one of my favourites. Clark wrote it in 1928, long before ‘Civilisation’ made him a television star and it has the freshness of a young man trying out ideas and working to understand something he doesn’t like. He was writing about Gothic architecture at a time when it was completely out of fashion. Clark’s subtitle ‘an essay in the history of taste’ is tongue in cheek because Gothic for his generation meant bad taste. Tracing its roots back into the eighteenth century Clark shows how it developed to embody the ideals of the Victorian age. 

By Kenneth Clark,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

First published in 1928, this informative study offers an introduction to the most influential and widespread artistic movement that England ever produced - the Gothic revival. It shows how buildings once neglected and laughed at could latterly be seen as having grace and artistic merit.