List of Top 10 Architecture Books for Student Architects

The following Architecture books are a must-have on every student architect’s bookshelf!

  1. 101 Things I Learned in Architecture by Mathew Frederick

    This is a book that students of architecture will want to keep in the studio and in their backpacks. It is also a book they may want to keep out of view of their professors, for it expresses in clear and simple language things that tend to be murky and abstruse in the classroom. These 101 concise lessons in design, drawing, the creative process, and presentation—from the basics of “How to Draw a Line” to the complexities of color theory—provide a much-needed primer in architectural literacy, making concrete what too often is left nebulous or open-ended in the architecture curriculum.

  2. BLDGBLOG Book by Geoff Manaugh

    bldg-blog-book-by-geoff-manaughNearly five million readers have visited the BLDGBLOG Web site since its inception in 2004 for stories about the past news about the present and speculation about the future of how humans shape their environment. The site provides intriguing details from the fringes of contemporary architectural practice in an accessible thought-provoking and highly entertaining manner. Here author Geoff Manaugh presents his insights in book form combining history urban exploration science fiction design climate change and city planning with the view that everything is relevant to architecture. With five captivating and colorfully illustrated chapters The BLDGBLOG Book is sure to delight and inspire the builder the thinker and the visionary in all of us.

  3. Translation by Aaron Betsky

    translation-aaron-betskyFernando Romero graduated from architecture school in Mexico City in 1995, and then worked with Enric Miralles, Jean Nouvel and Rem Koolhaas before setting up his own firm in 1999, called Laboratorio de la Ciudad de Mexico. LCM soon became influential, as one of few offices–if not the only one–carrying out experimental projects in Mexico Cityís economically vulnerable environment. In 2005, Romero founded the Laboratory of Architecture, LAR. Translation divides LCM and LARís projects into three categories. ìFluid Bodiesî are long-lasting private projects, addressing specific situations with high-tech resources.

  4. A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction (Center for Environmental Structure Series)

    a-pattern-language-towns-buildings-constructionThe second of three books published by the Center for Environmental Structure to provide a “working alternative to our present ideas about architecture, building, and planning,” A Pattern Language offers a practical language for building and planning based on natural considerations. The reader is given an overview of some 250 patterns that are the units of this language, each consisting of a design problem, discussion, illustration, and solution. By understanding recurrent design problems in our environment, readers can identify extant patterns in their own design projects and use these patterns to create a language of their own. Extraordinarily thorough, coherent, and accessible.

  5. Towards a New Architecture by Le Corbusier

    towards-a-new-architecture-by-le-corbusierProbably the most important book in Modern Architecture. Certainly the most villified over the years, especially since the death of Le Corbusier. In it he laid the ground work for Modern Architecture, extolling the virtues of an architecture that was the product of the machine age rather than a pastiche of historical styles.

    Le Corbusier illustrated the principles which he felt should govern architecture, drawing from historical references such as the Parthenon, but stressing the need to come up with a new proportional system reflective of concrete construction.

  6. 10 x 10 (Architecture) by Editors of Phaidon Press

    10-x-10-architecture-by-editors-phaidon-pressThis is a comprehensive view of contemporary architecture, presenting the work of 100 exceptional international architects. It provides an opportunity to see a diverse, inspirational collection of recent work, selected by 10 of the world’s best informed architectural critics. The architects are presented in A-Z order, with four pages allocated to each practice, including an accompanying text by one of the ten critics. It is intended to be a global selection. The work shown here features over 250 buildings and projects, including recent built work as well as projects currently under construction, due for completion in the 21st century.

  7. DesignIntelligence Almanac of Architect & Design 2009

    design-intelligence-alamanac-of-architecture-design-2009For 10 years the Almanac of Architecture & Design, DesignIntelligence’s annual factbook, has been providing the readers with the critical information it needs about the sweeping events, benchmarks, and successes of the past year in design. Find out which building has assumed the title as tallest, which firms are winning awards, which projects and firms are at the top of their market segment, and who the leaders are in the profession. Highlights of the 2009 edition include: * Measurements of Design Success * Design Award Benchmarks * Green and Sustainable Innovation Records * Factbook on Compensation * Watershed Events that Shaped the Profession * Databases of Pacesetting Projects * Industry Rankings * Architecture Scorecards

  8. A History of the Future by Donna Goodman

    a-history-of-the-future-by-donna-goodmanThe political, social, and economic upheaval of the early twentieth century generated an extraordinary range of proposals for the future as successive generations grappled with issues of organizing vast urban systems and humanizing dense industrial environments. As conceptual design became the vehicle for exploring ideas and presenting new movements, a dialogue between technology and design began to emerge.
    A History of the Future explores the impact of modern technology on design and planning, beginning with Renaissance concepts that laid the foundations for modern visionary work and concluding with emerging projects in sustainable design. It also includes relevant projects in related fields, such as film, photography, and industrial design.

  9. Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster by Mike Davis

    ecology-of-fear-los-angeles-and-the-imagination-of-distasterThe 1990s have not been kind to Los Angeles. The increasing fear about nature’s reign of terror in Southern California reflected in Hollywood’s preoccupation with apocalypse–L.A. has been destroyed on screen by everything from lava (Volcano) to nukes (Miracle Mile) to alien death rays (Independence Day)–is in reality a strong case of denial.
    Although this book is specifically about Los Angeles, its lessons about the relationship between urban developments and natural ecosystems and about the dangerous influence of class politics on environmental safety policy are applicable to any city. Anyone with a serious interest in natural history or urban policy should make a point of reading this book. –Ron Hogan

  10. Becoming an Architect: A Guide to Careers in Design by Lee W. Waldrep

    becoming-an-architect-lee-w-waldrepWhat do architects do? What are the educational requirements for architects? What does an architectural internship involve? How does one become a licensed architect? What is the future of the architectural profession?
    Get the answers to these key questions in Becoming an Architect. This completely up-to-date guide to today’s careers in architecture provides a clear and concise survey of the field and offers advice for navigating a successful career. Filled with interviews and insights from leading architects, the book covers everything from educational requirements and design specialties to registration requirements and the many directions in which a career in architecture can go.

I’d appreciate your input – If you feel there is a book that should be on this list please make your suggestion in the comments below – Thanks! Linda =)


34 comments for “List of Top 10 Architecture Books for Student Architects”

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  • Rory

    This is fun, here’s my Top 10 architecture books that influenced me as a student. Not game enough to rank them, but I think this is the order that I read them at least. – RH

    Venturi – Complexity and contradiction, 1966
    Koolhaas – Delirious New York, 1978
    Robin Boyd – The Puzzle of Architecture, 1965 (Definitely an influence on Venturi)
    Le Corbusier – Towards a New Architecture (agreed)
    Koolhaas – SMLXL, 1995
    John Thackara – In The Bubble: Designing in a Complex World, 2005
    An Evolutionary Architecture – Frazer, 1995
    Kieran and Timberlake – Refabricating Architecture, 2004
    Michael Brawne – From Idea to Building, 1992
    Bill Addis – 3000 years of Building, 2007

  • Gerard

    Hey, this is a good game, will follow up Rory’s posting also with a chronological set of 10 (maybe I will show my age here but . . )
    Pattern Language – I agree with you, an oldie but a goodie
    Towards a New Architecture (I agree with you there too)
    Architecture and Disjunction/Event Cities 01 – a double up for Tschumi
    Exquisite Corpse – Sorkin at his best (now this is what architectural critique should be)
    Socrates Ancestor by Indra Kagis McEwen (amazing rumination on the link between philosophy and architecture)
    The Architectural Uncanny – Vidler
    Differences – Ignasi de Sola Morales (one of the great influences on our work)
    Theoretical Anxieties – Rafael Moneo (I think every student should read this, a great architect critiquing 8 of his peers, its amazing stuff)
    Spatial Intelligence – Leon van Schaik (I think this book is actually profoundly important for the profession)
    Parallax View – Zizek (how could I not include it)

  • Luke B

    Just wanted to say HI. I found your blog a few days ago and have been reading it over the past few days.

  • Leng

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  • Jay

    My ‘Completely relevant but not necessarily architectural reading list’.

    1. World Changing – World Changing: A User’s Guide for the 21st Century by Alex Steffen and Al Gore

    2. Massive Change – Bruce Mau, Jennifer Leonard, Institute Without Boundaries

    3. RE:CP – Cedric Price, Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Patrick Keiller

    4.Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonough and Michael Braungart

    5. The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich, Timothy Ferriss

    6. Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness, Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein

    Also pick up a subscription to WIRED Magazine and New Scientist.

  • Leng

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

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  • Ryan

    What really seems to be missing from these lists are books that discuss the poetics of architecture. I think at the core that’s where we hope our work resides.

    Consider the following books- which I have found to be fundamental to my development:

    Zumthor – Thinking Architecture
    Zumthor – Atmospheres
    Bachelard – Poetics of Space
    Heidigger – Building Dwelling Thinking
    Pallasmaa – Eyes of the Skin

    • shabbir hussain

      thanks to all for your reads and sharing gem of books, I find them very useful and still the thirst is there for more good ones on architecture with emphasis on pure design (architectural).

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  • Sarah

    Oxford Dictionary of Architecture – It’s not an insight into architecture or anything of the sort but while reading other works that are, I suggest having this handy. Btw, thanks for the lists!

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  • Hans Alberts

    I would also recommend

    The Green House: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture

  • John Lee

    Has anyone read “de architectura” (“Ten Books on Architecture”) by Vitruvius? Is this a must read?

    • plainsofcement

      Definitely not a must-read. It’s good to have a browse of it and maybe read the first few chapters, but really only useful now to understand the “model” that has been created of the visionary elitist Architect-cum-Genius.

  • Ronnie

    I’m making a list of books I should start reading to gain an edge in school and just to see if I truly want to pursue architecture. I am not yet a student, but I plan to study architecture as soon as I am accepted into Cal Poly Pamona. Thanks for the list. It would be much appreciated if any current students or past students would give me any insight into the profession, because it truly seems like something I would love to do. I want to be prepared.

  • swapnali

    can i get books for preparation of mh ar cet. if any past student have given this exam plz contact me at my as early as possible plz

  • plainsofcement

    Architecture Depends by Jeremy Till is absolutely top of my list.

  • Kirb

    Just found this site! Very excited about it as architecture has become such a passion for me, two years ago I designed (with no formal education only a vision in my head), a home for my parents in law it’s a modern house on the Alberta prairies. It was the most amazing experience to create this from my imagination and receive all of the compliments from those who visit!
    Have I found my calling? I’m not sure but the whole process intrigues me immensely !!

    Question: has any one read “becoming an architect by Lee W Waldrep

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  • Jacob

    I was wondering what you guys thought of the books by Francis Ching. They are the books my professors use and I wanted some other opinions

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  • Rinaldo Tessuti De Lucca

    Books that are a must-have on every 1st year student architect’s bookshelf. Most are old and from a pre-digital era but they are very useful nevertheless:

    Color Drawing (I, II and III), by Michael E. Doyle;
    Shelter, by Lloyd Kahn;
    The Elements of Color, by Johannes Itten;
    Interaction of Color, by Josef Albers;
    The Art of Urban Sketching, by Gabriel Campanario;
    Rendering in Pen and Ink, by Arthur L. Guptill;
    Professional Architectural Photography, by Michael Harris;
    Writing About Architecture, by Alexandra Lange.

  • Ali Husain

    I’m not an architect, but I do draw and paint. I found the above list very useful.
    If I had to contribute, I would say:

    A blue fire James Hillman
    An interesting compendium of this Jungian’s writings. Alchemy is evolution of the
    Soul, and it applies to architecture as well.

    Drawing on the right side of the brain. Dr. Betty Edwards
    Psyches you out of thinking you can’t draw, with simple exercises.

    Grandmasters book of ninja training. Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi
    A beautiful life-changing book of ninja philosophy and pragmatism.