Best Architecture Book Recommendations from Influential Architects – Part 2

During my studies I wrote an article entitled List of Top 10 Architecture Books for Student Architects.” The books were selected because they inspired creativity, innovation and invention.

The following Architecture book recommendations are from Architects who have inspired their peers and generations of students to follow.

This is part two in a three part series where I have asked influential Architects to share the books that have inspired them. For recommendations from Daniel LibeskindBernard TschumiBen Van Berkel (UN Studio)Ricardo Scofidio (DS+R) and Michael Sorkin you can checkout part 1 here.

The following architecture books are a must-have for every Architect, student Architect and Architect enthusiast.

1. Best architecture book recommendations from Alex Mustonen (Snarkitecture):

1. The Hunting of the Snark by Lewis Carroll

The-Hunting-Of-The-Snark-Lewis-CarrollThe Hunting of the Snark (An Agony in 8 Fits) is typically categorized as a nonsense poem written by Lewis Carroll, the pen name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. Written from 1874 to 1876, the poem borrows the setting, some creatures, and eight portmanteau words from Carroll’s earlier poem “Jabberwocky” in his children’s novel Through the Looking Glass (1871). The plot follows a crew of ten trying to hunt the Snark, an animal which may turn out to be a highly dangerous Boojum. The only one of the crew to find the Snark quickly vanishes, leading the narrator to explain that it was a Boojum after all. The poem is dedicated to young Gertrude Chataway, whom Carroll met at the English seaside town Sandown in the Isle of Wight in 1875.

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2. Shelter by Lloyd Kahn and Bob Easton

Shelter-Lloyd-KahnShelter is many things – a visually dynamic, oversized compendium of organic architecture past and present; a how-to book that includes over 1,250 illustrations; and a Whole Earth Catalog-type sourcebook for living in harmony with the earth by using every conceivable material. First published in 1973, Shelter remains a source of inspiration and invention. Including the nuts-and-bolts aspects of building, the book covers such topics as dwellings from Iron Age huts to Bedouin tents to Togo’s tin-and-thatch houses; nomadic shelters from tipis to “housecars”; and domes, dome cities, sod iglus, and even treehouses. The authors recount personal stories about alternative dwellings that illustrate sensible solutions to problems associated with using materials found in the environment – with fascinating, often surprising results.

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3. Dangerous Laughter by Steven Milhauser

Dangerous-Laughter-Steven-MillhauserThirteen darkly comic stories, Dangerous Laughter is a mesmerizing journey that stretches the boundaries of the ordinary world. The collection is divided into three parts that fit seamlessly together as a whole. It opens with a bang, as “Cat ’n’ Mouse” reimagines the deadly ritual between cartoon rivals in a comedy of dynamite and anvils—a masterly prologue that sets the stage for the alluring, very grown-up twists that follow. Sensual, mysterious, Dangerous Laughter is a mesmerising journey through brilliantly realized labyrinths of mortal pleasures that stretch the boundaries of the ordinary world to their limits—and occasionally beyond.

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2. Best architecture book recommendations from Steven Holl:

1. Cinema 1: The Movement-Image by Gilles Deleuze

Cinema-1--The-Movement-Gilles-DeleuzeCinema 1: The Movement Image (FrenchCinéma 1. L’Image-Mouvement) is a 1983 book by the philosopher Gilles Deleuze that combines philosophy with film criticism. In the Preface to the French edition Deleuze says that, “This study is not a history of cinema. It is a taxonomy, an attempt at the classifications of images and signs” and acknowledges the influence of the American pragmatist C.S. Peirce and the French philosopher Henri Bergson (p. xiv). The cinema covered in the book ranges from the silent era to the 1970s, and includes the work ofD. W. Griffith, Abel Gance, Erich von Stroheim, Charlie Chaplin, Sergei Eisenstein, Luis Buñuel, Howard Hawks, Robert Bresson, Jean-Luc Godard, Sidney Lumet and Robert Altman.

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 2. Creation is a Patient Search by Le Corbusier

Creation-is-a-Patient-Search-Le-Corbusier-Le Corbusier’s career “self-portrait”; from his early student days to the completion of the convent at La Tourette, written when he was 71 years old. “Surely if Le Corbusier must summon up patience, then we mere mortals must require it in extra large helpings. This book, with its rants, ravings, and alternating scolding and ecstatic tone, helped me, and countless others, to develop a healthy disregard for conventional wisdom and opt, instead, to operate outside the box.” Craig Hodgetts

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 3. The Visible and the Invisible by Maurice Merleau-Ponty

The-Visible-and-the-Invisible-Maurice-Merleau-PontyThe Visible and the Invisible contains the unfinished manuscript and working notes of the book Maurice Merleau-Ponty was writing when he died. The text is devoted to a critical examination of Kantian, Husserlian, Bergsonian, and Sartrean method, followed by one extraordinary chapter, ‘The Intertwining – The Chiasm, ‘ that reveals the central pattern of Merleau-Ponty’s own thought. The working notes for the book provide the reader with a truly exciting insight into the mind of the philosopher at work as he refines and develops new pivotal concepts.

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3. Best architecture book recommendations from Maya Lin:

1. Experiencing Architecture by Steen Eiler Rasmussen

Experiencing-Architecture-Steen-Eiler-RasmussenIllustrated with fine instances of architectural experimentation through the centuries, Experiencing Architecture manages to convey the intellectual excitement of superb design. From teacups, riding boots, golf balls, and underwater sculpture to the villas of Palladio and the fish-feeding pavilion of the Peking Winter Palace, the author ranges over the less-familiar byways of designing excellence. At one time, writes Rasmussen, “the entire community tool part in forming the dwellings and implements they used. The individual was in fruitful contact with these things; the anonymous houses were built with a natural feeling for place, materials and use and the result was a remarkably suitable comeliness. Today, in our highly civilized society, the houses which ordinary people are doomed to live in and gaze upon are on the whole without quality. “

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2. Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges

Labyrinths-Jorge-Luis-BorgesLabyrinths is a trans-genre work of Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges. Multi-layered, self-referential, elusive, and allusive writing is now frequently labeled Borgesian. Umberto Eco’s international bestseller, The Name of the Rose, is, on one level, an elaborate improvisation on Borges’ fiction “The Library,” which American readers first encountered in the original 1962 New Directions publication of Labyrinths.

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3. Rivers and Mountains by John Ashbery

Rivers-and-Mountains-John-AshberyHalf-formed images help to evoke dream-life impressions of places and people existing in the poet’s memory.

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 4. Best architecture book recommendations from Greg Lynn:

1. The Collected Works of Jules Verne: 36 Novels and Short Stores by Jules Verne

The-Collected-Works-of-Jules-Verne-Jules-VerneThis book contains 36 of the Verne’s best novels and short stories. Verne (1828-1905) was a French writer who, along with English author H.G. Wells, is regarded as the “Father of Science Fiction.” He is best known for his novels A journey to the centre of the earth (1864), From the earth to the moon (1865), 20,000 leagues under the sea (1869–1870), A journey to the centre of the earth (1871) Around the world in eighty days (1873) and The mysterious island (1875). Verne wrote about space, air, and underwater travel before navigable aircraft and practical submarines were invented, and before any means of space travel had been devised. A number of his works have been made into feature films and his books remain popular and in print more than a century after his death.

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 2. How the Leopard Changed its Spots: The Evolution of Complexity by Brian Goodwin.

How-the-Leopard-Changed-its-Spots--The-Evolution-of-Complexity-Brian-GoodwinApplying the laws of physics to the study of life and the growth of complex forms, the author proposes a powerful source for the origin of species and offers an alternative to modern Darwinism and twentieth-century genetics.

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 3. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari

A-Thousand-Plateaus-Capitalism-and-Schizophrenia-Gilles-DeleuzeA Thousand Plateaus is the second part of Deleuze and Guattari’s landmark philosophical project, Capitalism and Schizophrenia – a project that still sets the terms of contemporary philosophical debate. Written over a seven year period, A Thousand Plateaus provides a compelling analysis of social phenomena and offers fresh alternatives for thinking about philosophy and culture. Its radical perspective provides a toolbox for ‘nomadic thought’. Deleuze and Guattari set forth the following theory: Western society’s innate herd instinct has allowed the government, the media, and even the principles of economics to take advantage of each person’s unwillingness to be cut off from the group. What’s more, those who suffer from mental disorders may not be insane, but could be individuals in the purest sense, because they are by nature isolated from society.

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5. Best architecture book recommendations from Richard Meier:

1. The Future of Architecture by Frank Lloyd Wright

The-Future-of-Architecture-Frank-Lloyd-WrightThis book features the life and work of Frank Lloyd Wright (born Frank Lincoln Wright, June 8, 1867 – April 9, 1959). Lloyd Wright was an American architect, interior designer, writer and educator, who designed more than 1,000 projects. Wright promoted organic architecture, was a leader of the Prairie School movement of architecture, and developed the concept of the Usonian home. Wright was recognized in 1991 by the American Institute of Architects as “the greatest American architect of all time.

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2. Kindergarten Chats and Other Writings by Louis H. Sullivan

Kindergarten-Chats-and-Other-Writings-Louis-H.-SullivanLouis Henry Sullivan was one of the foremost American architects, and has been called the “father of skyscrapers” and “father of modernism”. He is considered by many as the creator of the modern skyscraper, was an influential architect and critic of the Chicago School, was a mentor to Frank Lloyd Wright, and an inspiration to the Chicago group of architects who have come to be known as the Prairie School. Kindergarten Chats and Other Writings is collection of his work in additional to the “Kindergarten Chats.”

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3. Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

Long-walk-to-freedom-Nelson-MandellaNelson Mandela is one of the great moral and political leaders of our time: an international hero whose lifelong dedication to the fight against racial oppression in South Africa won him the Nobel Peace Prize and the presidency of his country. Since his triumphant release in 1990 from more than a quarter-century of imprisonment, Mandela has been at the center of the most compelling and inspiring political drama in the world. Long walk to freedom is a moving and exhilarating autobiography, destined to take its place among the finest memoirs of history’s greatest figures. Mandela tells the extraordinary story of his life–an epic of struggle, setback, renewed hope, and ultimate triumph.

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6. Best architecture book recommendations from Denise Scott Brown:

1. The Beer Can by the Highway by John A. Kouwenhoven

The-Beer-Can-by-the-Highway-John-A.-KouwenhovenFirst published in 1961, The Beer Can by the Highway takes a provocative, wide-ranging look at America’s ever-changing physical and intellectual landscapes, from advertising and jazz to Manhattan’s skyline and the prairies of the Midwest. The Johns Hopkins edition features a foreword by Ralph Ellison, who praises the work as “one that springs from deep within that rich segment of the American grain which gave us the likes of Emerson and Whitman, Horatio Greenough and Constance Rourke—yes, and Mark Twain.”

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2. Communitas: Means of Livelihood and Ways of Life by Percival and Paul Goodman

Communitas--Means-of-Livelihood-and-Ways-of-Life-Percival-GoodmanCommunitas stands in a class by itself: a fresh and original theoretic contribution to the art of building cities. Such a book does not appear often… a witty, penetrating, provocative and, above all, … a wise book; for it deals with the underlying values and purposes, political and moral, on which planning of any sort must be based.’Lewis Mumford. Paul Goodman was a young, anarchist writer and intellectual (later famous for Growing Up Absurd) who had grown up roaming the streets of New York. His brother Percival was an architect and urban theorist. Together, they sought to imagine a city redesigned to provide an ideal environment for human flourishing.

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3. Designs on the Land: Exploring America from the Air by Alex Maclean

Designs-on-the-Land--Exploring-America-from-the-Air-Alex-MacleanThe tradition of aerial photography arose from a keen nineteenth-century desire to see “the world in motion.” Starting with Nadar’s photographic balloon trips, airborne experimentation with landscapes and cityscapes continued through great photographers from Steichen to Burkhardt. A trained architect who is closely involved in landscape heritage protection issues, MacLean has set out to create a series of pictures that show and explain the universal history of town and countryside. What he has to say may be invigorating or alarming, but it always raises the issue of the landscape’s future. This new collection of exemplary photographs taken across the American landscape reflects MacLean’s passionate interest in the effects of time, geological movements, shifting landscapes, redeployment, pollution, urban sprawl, and the overlapping of surfaces and activities.

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Top Stay tuned for part three featuring architecture book recommendations from Architects including Marco Cassagrande, Ulf Mejergren & Anders Berensson, Gerard Reinmuth, Shigeru Ban, Michael Sorkin and Robert Venturi.

Id love to hear your thoughts on the above recommendations. List your own recommendations in the comment section below! 



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