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Architecture Books | My Library of Essentials

Architecture Books | My Library of Essentials

Hi, Eric here with 30X40 Design Workshop,
today we’re going to be discussing architecture books and specifically the books I find most
useful and inspiring from my library but also more broadly I’ll be discussing how you
can begin building your architectural library whether you’re an architecture fan, a student,
or a professional. Now, this is an edited look at my essential
books, the ones I couldn’t imagine practicing without. Some are books that inspire, some challenge,
some remind me of the fundamentals, some are thick with theory, others are just favorite
monographs, and there’s a few reference books thrown in there too. Now, although much of my reading is done digitally
nowadays, architecture books are – for me – best consumed in physical form. Not only do I enjoy the ritual of opening
the book, and smelling the inks, the tactile quality of the page, but I appreciate that
you can spread them out on the work table if you need some sort of creative spark and
I’ll often grab one from the shelf to illuminate an idea during a client meeting. Analog books remain incredibly useful to my
practice in many ways. The books in your architecture library provide
context for your work; history, precedent, theory, technics, best practices, fresh perspectives
and of course creative stimuli. The ones I return to often are like harmonic
frequencies, which continue to vibrate and resonate over time even as my ideology is
evolving. Is it a coincidence that some of the most
emotive connections to books and architectural writings were forged in architecture school
many years ago? You know how they say the music you’ll listen
to the rest of your life is the music you were into when you were eighteen? Master, master. That’s how many of these books are for me. So, these precise books may not hold the same
importance for you, but as a thought exercise, consider what your library currently says
about you, your interests and your blind spots or your knowledge gaps one you might want
to fill in. So, let’s have a look at my favorites, all
the links are in the description below along with a link to a resource page I created on
my site. I broke things down into six different themes
or threads that my library is built around and I’ve winnowed it to five books in each
thread. First, there’s history. Now, this is a respect for history – not
in a kitschy kind of way – but in a real, wanting to understand the origin of things
kind of way. This doesn’t only mean buildings, but objects,
art, and places too. Historical context is vitally important to
an architect’s work. Nothing we do is without precedent and this
is the bible on history; a thoroughly researched textbook on architectural history set in the
cultural context up through roughly the early eighties. Next, Modern Architecture: A Critical History. My critical regionalist hero Mr. Frampton
decodes and critiques the architecture of the modern world. It’s hard to imagine a more resonant teacher
of the history of modern architecture for me. Okay, next up, A Field Guide to New England
Barns and Farm Buildings. There’s a real reason why farmers built
cupolas on their barns and its linked to cow manure. You’re curious now, right? This book is filled with gems like this that
decipher the humble agricultural buildings we’re surrounded by. This is foundational, practical knowledge
that guides my own work. Next up is: Reading the Forested landscape
and The Granite Landscape. There’s something about knowing everything
that’s shaped a place or what’s happening beneath our superficial – often purely visual
– understanding of the world. These books nurture that for me. Understanding how trees rot – softwoods
from the outside in, hardwoods from the inside out – or the evolution of a tree’s bark
forges this innate comprehension of materiality. Seeing the way glaciation shaped our topography,
particularly where I live on the coast of Maine, is fundamental to knowing how we might
more thoughtfully build on the earth. This one’s beautifully illustrated and it
has a clear writing style. The next category I’ve termed: Narrative. Story is integral to the way we remember events,
places and it’s the thing that colors our lives. These books remind us that it’s the architect’s
duty to effect experience, to account for it and shape it. Thinking architecture. A collection of short snippets, tiny essays
– love letters almost – about the human experience of architecture, explicitly showing
how Zumthor thinks about design and space. This is an accessible quick read I find myself
coming back to again and again. Next is, In Praise of Shadows. More of an essay than a book, it’s a study
in contrasts of not only Japanese architecture, but more generally the eastern arts and the
cultural differences with the west and modern culture. The idea of aged and patinated surfaces versus
the shiny, perfect, new is one I return to when thinking about how buildings age. Next up, Condemned Building. Invented architecture and the stories that
created them supported by models and richly detailed graphite drawings. Ghost. This is an alternate, hands-on teaching model
developed by the author, professor and practitioner, Brian MacKay Lyons, this book chronicles the
works built by this ad-hoc Nova Scotian seaside academy. MacKay Lyons has influenced my own work significantly. His work is humble, refined, and deeply rooted
in place as well as the tectonics of building. Next up, Anarchitecture. In a dystopian near future his architecture
appears self-organizing, irrational, empty, and prickly and yet strangely seductive. Colored pencil on Strathmore paper, chipboard
models, text, composition, light. His monograph, ‘Anarchitecture’ is a personal
favorite, but anything you can get your hands on will be soul-enriching. The drawings are so emotive you’re left
wondering if civilization has been eviscerated leaving only husks of buildings or whether
the human race has actually evolved to become the buildings. This is stunning, visually-challenging work. Next up: process + making. I find the design process and rituals surrounding
the processes of creation endlessly fascinating. So first here is, Type Variant House. The book quietly narrates the design process
that led to the finished home and it’s documented in intricate detail. You can appreciate the iterative nature of
design as you leaf through the volume. Finished photos composed alongside hundreds
of tiny sketches reveal the toil behind such seemingly simple details as a stone water
table for example. From the macro to the micro I find myself
returning to discover things I’d missed previously. Next up is, Boundaries by Maya Lin. She likens her ideation process to laying
an egg. Beautifully expressive ideas and philosophies
and a unique working methodology. It’s one of the few architecture books that
incorporates writing as a part of her work. This is something I find myself doing more
and more of during the early stages of design. Next, the work of Shim Sutcliffe. Similar to Charles and Ray Eames, their architecture
is defined by the tectonics of making. They use humble materials and experiment at
full-scale to design the right connections, the perfect light fixture or the most appropriate
door handle. Nothing they touch seems left to chance, everything
is considered. Okay next up: any of the Tom Kundig monographs. There’s kinetics, hot-rodding, details,
connections, gizmos, and a deep respect for the physical and visual properties of materials. Kundig’s sketches are raw; they seem to
ooze with the internal thought processes that led to the final building. Now Peter Zumthor’s five volume monograph
set is spare but it’s beautifully photographed work. Process, models, sketches abound. It’s a lot to consume and the sheer volume
of it makes it easy to skim over any of the less resonant work. The format indulges a desire to peer more
closely at his carefully wrought details. Here again, every connection is thoroughly
designed and measured. Zumthor’s work as recounted in these books
is a continual source for surprise and delight even though I’ve not visited a single one
his buildings. The next category is machines and architecture. A fetish I suppose and a product of the time
when I attended architecture school when deconstruction was a thing and I couldn’t get enough of
it. The first book here is Building Machines. The mechanistic forms of Neil Denari, Wes
Jones and others fill this pamphlet and synergize with a collection of essays that build on
Corbusier’s “building as a machine for living” ideology. Next is, Instrumental Form. The graphics and formal language here are
to die for. I find myself a little bit at odds with the
real spatial implications of these forms, but I can’t stop coveting them as objects. Okay next, Gyroscopic Horizons Neil Denari. Similar themes as Instrumental Form. His urban monastery was the impetus for my
own Bachelor of Architecture fifth-year thesis. Ridiculous models, completely satisfying in
every possible way. Okay next: Morphosis. There’s buildings and projects there’s
all kinds of mongraphs. More uber-crisp graphics and huge models in
balsa and chipboard along with detailed photos of each, it’s easy to get lost in the level
of detail and care invested in designing every last inch. In school I wanted nothing more than to be
on their model building team. And the last one in this category is, Blast
Furnaces by Bernd and Hilla Becher. This book is pure gold to me. I had a chance to see some of their original
prints at the Tate Modern in London recently and they brought me to my knees. That’s how good they are. The Bechers documented humble structures like
water towers, grain elevators and other seemingly plain industrial architecture in a really
austere, head-on portrait style that’s often copied today, but uniquely their invention. As a photographer, there’s so much to behold
in the photographs – the prints, the composition, the lighting, the contrast, I mean they’re
simply stunning. As an architect, it’s a visual feast of
connection details and a repository of forms to borrow for my own work. Okay next is: mechanics, connections, and
details. A deep understanding of the way things work
and how that’s revealed rather than hidden is an important design motivator for me. So, the first publication here: the Detail
publications. These are magazines but I treat them kind
of like books because they’re on par with the cost of books, but also because their
graphics are excellent source material. Detail in Contemporary Residential Architecture
Series. There’s a number of these books they’re
published by the same group as the Detail magazines I just mentioned, these books are
fantastic because they correlate the physical building with the detailed construction notes
and drawings the architects used to achieve the result. Now, once you’ve practiced for any period
of time you know the real magic of architecture is being able to execute your ideas in built
form. This requires a particular sequence, real
materials and a labor force comprised of both skilled and unskilled workers. How one details a building determines how
successful it is at expressing the ideas you started with and how it performs over time,
in the weather and during use. Next is, The Works: The Anatomy of a City. A systems book that illustrates how things
work together. The graphical clarity of this book is beautiful. This also feeds the part of me that wants
to know and understand the inner workings of every minute detail. Things like, how New York City gets its drinking
water and the objects, wires, and pipes hidden beneath the street. Coordinating these systems is not unlike putting
a building together which demands we plan for myriad concealed systems: mechanical,
electrical, plumbing, structural and we have to do it in a way that’s both elegant and
aesthetically pleasing. Next up: Wood and Wood Joints. This is a peek into the wood building and
joinery traditions of Northern Europe, China and Japan. Wonderful photographs and line drawings. I look here for fresh ideas and new ways to
connect things simply without fasteners. Okay then there’s: Architectural Graphic
Standards. I have the abbreviated student version and
admittedly, this is an extremely dry book, but it covers everything from anthropomorphic
design to common cabinetry dimensions with a similar – often excruciatingly granular
– level of detail. This isn’t a book to fall in love with,
but one to keep close by to verify technical details. I think the Steel Manual falls into a similar
vein for me, not particularly lovable but necessary. Okay, next: Fundamentals and General. Form, Space, and Order. Part inspiration, part hand-drawn manifesto,
this work by Francis Ching distills architecture to its formative principles and it’s illustrated
with beauty and style. I’d be shocked if this book wasn’t in
every architect’s library. It’s remarkable really when you consider
the depth and breadth of the subject of architecture that he’s managed to capture our practice
so succinctly. Okay next is, Architectural Graphics. It’s another one by Frank Ching. My parents purchased this for me the day I
visited the architecture school I knew I wanted to attend. Drawing and model making led me to this profession
so this one holds a special place on the shelf. Pair this with Building Construction Illustrated
by Ching and you’d have an excellent foundation to work from. It’s just enough information and it’s
lovingly presented in his signature drawing style. I usually find myself reaching for BCI before
Graphic Standards because of this. Next is: Programs and Manifestoes on 20th
Century Architecture. All the greats are represented here: Mies,
Wright, Corbusier, Gropius, Loos, and Kahn. It’s proof that communicating our ideas
in prose is every bit as powerful and important as the visual syntax we rely on. Although many of these writings can be challenging
to digest, I love their exuberance. They’re bold; almost like battle cries. If you’re feeling down, this is a good place
to go for a pick-me-up. Next is the Lego Architecture Studio Companion
book. It really is quite amazing. There’s real architecture in here along
with a presentation of the fundamentals of design exploring topics like making space,
addressing context, sketching, and abstraction. Each one is presented by a different firm:
SOM, Sou Fujimoto, Safdie, REX Architecture and others. Now, you can’t buy this as a stand-alone
book, you’ll get the Legos along with it but honestly, who doesn’t like Legos? Especially all white ones with little clear
plastic tray organizers. Next are David MacCaulay’s books: Unbuilding,
Cathedral, Castle. McCauley’s illustrations say as much as
the text and each narrates the depth of thought and story that goes into the making of architecture. I saw him speak years ago about his drawing
process where he said he imagines himself as a bird flitting about searching for the
right perspective on a building and when he finds it, he closes his eyes and begins sketching
what the bird sees. This is an all-ages, all-abilities, intro
to architecture and a masterclass in drawing by hand. So those are a few of my favorites and of
course this list can’t – by nature – be exhaustive. There are so many more books out there than
I have the budget to acquire: there’s Koolhaas’ S,M,L,XL; Corbusier’s Complete Works, Yes
Is More, the works of Ando, Aalto, Rural Studio, Rick Joy, Glenn Murcutt, Saarinen, Richard
Serra, Phaidon’s Atlas of Contemporary World Architecture. Books feed the intellect, and a studio full
of books assures you’ll be surrounded by ideas of many – the masters, your colleagues,
artists, entrepreneurs, performers, and documentarians; so choose wisely. They’re a great equalizer when it comes
to education and at a fraction of the cost of architecture school. Please remember to hit the thumbs up if you’ve
found something useful here and be sure to tell me in the comments what your architecture
book essentials are. What did I miss? Thanks for watching as always, cheers!

100 comments found

  1. Overall, a good list…My collection would include many more OMA books- Elements, Mutations, Delirious New York and others…. the titles are indeed reflective of one's work. Thanks for the video!

  2. Love your videos, everything about how you sharing ideas and your experience 🙂 thank you! <3
    by arch student
    "File under Architecture" and The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses

  3. Hi, do you have any book recommendations on building materials (very illustrative as the books you showed in the video) , and also on architectural innovative structures?

  4. I think "Constructing Architecture; Materials, Processes, Structures" by Andrea Deplazes is one of the best books about detailing and material. It absolutely blew my mind in my bachelor's

  5. Love your videos, I recently have found them and I can't stop myself watching! I would just add in the narrative pile the Jun'ichirō Tanizaki's In praise of shadows.

  6. It's so amazing to see that many of the successful architects are Metalheads. Even though only a few of us ever acknowledge it to the public once we graduate and get employed, you just know one when you see one. I always had the feeling that you were one too! m/

  7. Hi Eric, I would include all Juhani Pallasmaa books and particularly " The Thinking Hand" and the " The Eyes of the skin" but also ALain De Botton's one "The architecture of Happiness", "The poetic of Space" by Gaston Bachelard but as you said the list is very very very long.

  8. Thank you for sharing. It's just weird that we have students/architects who don't invest in books, or do critical research with them.

  9. Thanks for the references! I would add to the last category Genius Loci by C. Norberg Schulz. This book totaly changed my way of seing the landscape.

  10. Please make a separate video on architectural books for students, discuss the major points to be followed and if you can please provide online Pdf as well

  11. What a great peek into what inspires you. I fell in love with transarchitecture and interactive architecture during my studies and it's still my source of inspiration. So my go to's are The Art of the Accident, Hyperbody: First Decade of Interactive Architecture, and the Interactive Architecture series.

    Now I'm off to go flip through some pages. Thanks for putting this video and list together.

  12. Thanks for the video! A book that I really enjoyed is Elements of English Style by Hugh Braun. His description of "good manners" vs "bad" when building within a region with a clear vernacular was eye-opening.

  13. Very inspiring! I love books, they are my companions in every struggle i had in this profession. They are very accessible where you need them anytime you want. Thank you for sharing additional insights on the other side of my interest. Kudos!

  14. How much you use Video Editing for Architecture? I am studying architecture (third year) and I have 4 years editing video and I haven't find a way to connect both things but I really want to because I have developed a great passion for both! 

    I would highly appreciate your answer!  

    Bryan Ortega

  15. I love this video and your channel in general! This particular video has just affirmed something for me that I've known since I was a child; I should have been an architect.
    Never too late to begin.
    Thank you!
    Ps- I would like to hear your thoughts on Eric Sloane's work sometime.

  16. The architecture student essential-Form, Space and Order is my bible. Each time I take a peek at it, there's always something new to gain: an idea, a theory or an approach.
    Zumthor's Thinking Architecture is the only out of your mentioned
    I have also started my own little library primarily, as you have already mentioned, as a source of inspiration and to hopefully solidify my foundation.
    I love how your collection screams "you". It describes your interests, working style and style of architecture.
    Thank you for sharing it with us.
    And yes there's that too. Money. The wall standing between me and my own large library.

  17. Metallica is forever.🤘🏻
    Design here, but your channel has great content, also very useful for my area. Thanks for the great work and greetings from Lisbon.

  18. Wow… Thanks! Your explanation is so clear and didactic. I'm Brazilian but living in North Carolina. So I get my degree in Archtecture and Urbanist a year ago in Brazil. This video is so helpfull to me because i was wondering to buy some books. I appreciate! 😌

  19. HeyI'm for Chile, and after a wild of dedicated myself to other things, I'm restarting with architecture and your videos are being very helpful to find the inspiration I thought it was lost …. keep making!!!

  20. Hi Eric. Very nicely crafted videos! Something in this video shifted my focus from your focussed content (books) to – the two lamps hanging over your table. Why is the light so much focussed in small spots on the work surface rather than being spread evenly? 🙂 I noticed burnt spots even when you had your books laid open on the table.. Isn't that uncomfortable? 🙂 Or maybe it was intended in some way .. I am curious 🙂

  21. I love your videos!

    One of my favorite books: A Pattern Language: Towns, Building, Construction by Christopher Alexander.

    Review: http://slate.me/2jsjAsf

  22. Really love your channel Mr Reinholdt
    love its contents and the way u introduce it as an architect
    this is my list of books, the most essential in my opinion
    -Banister Flitcher's history of architecture
    -Dekay and Brownz sun,wind and light
    -Neufert Arch. Data
    -Time Saver Design Data
    -Materials for Architects and Builders
    -5 Books by Francis Ching
    >form, Space and Order
    >Architectural Graphics
    >Building Construction Illustrated
    >Global History of Architecture
    >Interior Design
    what do u think of this collection??

  23. Great selection, I would suggest to add "The Thinking Hand" by Juhani Pallasmaa. After Zumthor's Thinking Architecture, that is second on my list.

  24. I'm not an architect but i enjoy your enthuiasm, the way you present, and how much you know. I'm a retired guy who aspires to be a maker. I don't have much money but i enjoy seeing how things are done and put together. I enjoy hearing about various materials and how they're used, and how colors and shapes are organized. You share such things and it makes me happy to see / hear. Thank you !

  25. I recently just found your videos, and as an architectural technologist student who hopes to go to architectural school after graduation, you've become an inspiration. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts through video with the younger generation!

  26. I found your recommendations interesting, and you can call me a dinosaur, but Jonathan Hale's  "The Old Way of Seeing" was  a book that first opened my eyes to the beauty that is architecture. I've always say to have a good house you need a strong foundation. . Symmetry, proportion "The Golden Section", they exist for a reason. I have a large collection of books where the authors go on and on about their theory, and how they give examples of support, but if the client doesn't like it…well you know the answer.  Also, Vitruvius is another good start.

  27. Hey Eric!! Jayesh here.. I am an architecture student from India. I have read some chapters of 4th edition of Architecture: form space and order and 5th edition of building construction illustrated in my college library…. I want to purchase them for my own library.. but they are quite expensive for me instead can I buy the 2nd edition and the 1st edition of respective books as they are for not even half the price as of their latest editions……..
    Please help … It would be very grateful

  28. Great video Sir. I'm very enjoy leaning from you as always. Thank you so much. Please let me know if you have some architecture books to donate. 🙂

  29. very enlightening Eric i wish i had Detail in Contemporary Residential Architecture Series. Now check this if you haven't yet http://cabinporn.com/

  30. I've had Brian MacKay-Lyons as a professor at Dal. He is very inspiring and deeply connected with his work, and has had an enormous influence on the design methodology at the school.

  31. great video! I've already own a few of yours. I hoep you'll make another video more focusing on monographic books. Thanks from Italy.

  32. I enjoyed this from the perspective of 60-year-old practitioner with a broad architectural library. In generations before mine, the Oeuvre Complete of Le Corbusier would have been one of the essentials. Our lists intersect with Ching (some, not all), AGS, and MacCauley, but I'm not as enamored with the mechanistic works of Denari, Kundig, Morphosis, Jones, and others as you. I find more of the eternal in Wright, Aalto, Piano and Hopkins. I would add to a list of a fundamentals Cyril M. Harris's Dictionary of Architecture and Construction, Michael Pollan's A Place of My Own, and Edmund N. Bacon's Design of Cities. Finally, Sir Bannister Fletcher's A History of Architecture is the mega-reference on all things historical.

  33. I recently started following your page. I probably watch 2 videos a night.. it's simply amazing. I feel like our ideals about architecture are exactly the same!

  34. I would love to see one video about periodicals and magazines that you particularly appreciate! Thanks for your videos!

  35. Hi Eric – really enjoy your videos and all the useful advice and information you share! I’m a senior in high school considering majoring in architecture in college – are there any book(s) you could recommend that could help me get a better understanding of and start on architecture? Cheers!

  36. Thanks for the great ideas. What I miss in the list is a book about Frank Lloyd Wright. Every architect or student should know the work of Frank Lloyd Wright.

  37. Great thank you for all your videos .. and can yu send me a this books in Pdf (architecture from préhistory to postmoderne ) and (condemned architecture) and th art of thought an taank you a lot

  38. Your videos actually helped me improve my confidence in studying architecture..!….your videos are so inspiring 😍😁…thank you so much!!!!!!….please upload some more videos related to this😅😁✌🏻

  39. I'm not from the US, how can I read Architectural Graphic Standards since we use metric system, not "standard system". Conversion every single moment when reading is waste of time, is there any alternative book anyone here can suggest me. Thanks.

  40. I had been looking for a list of books for a few years and this one is amazing! Thank you for taking the time to share your library with us and most importantly, thanks for creating so much inspiring content for us architecture students.

  41. Sir, i am a 16 yr old student from india. According to our system, i am still at school. I love drawing but have no guidance on it whatsoever( apart from winning some prizes, no acheivements). I would like to study archtecture but i am still skeptical about my aptitude on it. Would u help me ?

  42. funny that you mention the lego Architecture. Cauz, Ive been intending to ask you to explain the architectural basics with legos ! Please give us some insight on design and foundation building with legos, its fun and educational !

  43. This is great, I would love to see in depth reviews of some of these books.
    My list would have to include authors like John Ruskin, Buckminster Fuller, William McDonough… Too many to list, really. I also like the illustrations of Stephen Biesty, his books are great for introducing children to architecture.
    Keep up the awesome content! We all appreciate you and your work.

  44. I’m so inspired by your videos. I’m industrial design trained but I love architecture and I’m looking for books to start me off. This video is a precious reference!

  45. I am mechanical engineer but one of my hobby is architect designing I often design in sketchup. I am really get inspired from ur work and dedication I wish that you provide such useful information and ideas to all of us to inspire others too. I am from India and I think you should do some research about Indian Architect designing also. Thank you for these videos. — Jafar Iqbal Choudhury from India

  46. I love listening to architectural vocabulary and you have a vast knowledge. I will probably watch this upload multiple times in the future. It's one of the many that I've bookmarked from 30×40.

  47. I salute you for sharing content like this. You open a door for people who has no chance for formal design education to be educated .

  48. Hey ya, just today I thought of reading a good book, Peter Zumthom came into my mind at a moment but the last time I searched for his books it didn’t show as many- so I came to your channel to look for one then I saw his name again in your library! (First part of the video) Is there any chance I could get the title you his books?

    Whenever I watch your videos I always felt uplift. It’s great to know we have something in common. Cheers!

  49. God, I haven't looked at McCauley's work since I was a kid. Thanks for reminding me those are out there. I may have to try to find a few of them for MY boys.

  50. I suggest two seminal books by Christopher Alexander. "The Timeless Way of Building" is a philosophical discussion of the theory of architecture. "A Pattern Language" describes how it works from the macro of regional and city planning down to the micro like a front door bench. The Pattern Language can be applied to any style and period in architecture. Everything in these books should be second nature to an architect.

  51. Hi… Another interesting book that I could recommending you, its Atmospheres by Peter Zumthor, great book!

  52. I would like to know how and were you started and what can I do as an architectural student of being the best architect

  53. Hey I am a Drafter, pursuing a Carrier in Achitecture, i find your information to be extremely helpful, keep up the good work man. May have a few questions as i go along, will keep in touch.

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