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9 Books Every Architect Should Read


Whether you’re a brand new architecture student, a graduate on the search for a job hunt, or a seasoned architect, the odds are that you have an incredibly busy schedule and haven’t been taking a lot of time for yourself to read. Even though it can be difficult, it’s important to set aside time every day, week, or even month to read the architecture books that we recommend below. These books cover everything from contemporary design to classic architectural principles, and will serve to expand your horizons and make you into a more creative and well-rounded architect.

Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture, Robert Venturi (1966)

This book was originally published in 1966 by the Museum of Modern Art, and has since been translated in 16 languages. Robert Venturi compiles 350 photographs that illustrate the evolution of architecture over the past 2,000 years which illuminate where he believed the future of architecture was headed based on its past, and helped establish him as an influential designer and theorist.

You can buy Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture here.

101 Things I Learned in Architecture, Matthew Frederick (2007)

This is a survival guide written by Matthew Frederick, Massachusetts-based architect and urban designer, and it is essential for every architect student to keep in their backpack. It covers topics such as design, color theory, drawing, and more in a plainly written way that can be understood by even the most emotionally distressed and sleep-deprived architecture student. Every lesson is just two pages long and taught in unique and fun ways such as visually interesting illustrations and practical applications of design principles in TV shows.

You can buy 101 Things I Learned in Architecture here.

Jutaku: Japanese Houses, Naomi R. Pollock (2015)

Jutaku: Japanese Houses has been described as ‘quirky, surprising, and entertaining.’ Pollock has gathered photographs of hundreds houses built by both famous and obscure Japanese architects to shine a light on the contemporary and experimental fun of modern Japanese culture. The book does only contain photos and does not have floor plans, but the variety of houses shown and the interesting take on the subject make it still very much worth reading.

You can buy Jutaku: Japanese Houses here.

10 x 10/3, Editors of Phaidon Press (2011)

This is the latest in the 10 x 10 series by Phaidon Press, and has been just as successful as the 2000 10 x 10 and 2005 10 x 10/2. 10 x 10/3 presents 100 emerging architects whom have been selected by 10 leading members of the international architectural curator and critics community. Each critic has selected 10 cultural references which has resulted in a compilation of over 1,500 unique images that paint an incredible picture of the biggest influences in modern contemporary architecture.

You can buy 10 x 10/3 here.

Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan, Rem Koolhaas (1978)

Koolhaas perfectly sums up Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan writing “”Manhattan is the 20th century’s Rosetta Stone . . . occupied by architectural mutations (Central Park, the Skyscraper), utopian fragments (Rockefeller Center, the U.N. Building), and irrational phenomena (Radio City Music Hall).” He uses iconic New York architectural landmarks such as Coney Island and the emergency of the skyscraper to illustrate the intertwined relationship of a culture and its architecture.

You can buy Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan here.

Thinking Architecture, 3rd Edition, Peter Zumthor (2010)

In Thinking Architecture, author Zumthor has put together a collection of essays revealing what inspires and motivates him to design the buildings that he does. This 2010 edition (according to Amazon) contains two new essays which assist in “thematizing the special challenge of integrating contemporary architecture into a traditional architectural context.”

You can buy Thinking Architecture, 3rd Edition here.

Ten Canonical Buildings, Peter Eisenman (2008)

This book identifies ten of the twentieth century’s architectural leaders, and critically analyzes a career-defining project for each providing a fresh perspective on some of the most famous buildings of all times. From the New York Times, “(Eisenman’s) penetrating, sometimes brilliant analysis will prod you to see even the most celebrated of these buildings with fresh eyes. The power of his arguments will challenge some of your most dearly held architectural beliefs.”

You can buy Ten Canonical Buildings here.

The BLDGBLOG Book, Geoff Manaugh (2009)

The BLDGBLOG book is the summary of author and architect Geoff Manaugh’s vision of the future of architecture. Manaugh pulls from unique sources of inspiration such as artificial glaciers in Pakistan and 19th century paintings of British Ruins to bring the reader on a wild ride through one of the most interesting and creative architectural minds today.

You can buy The BLDGBLOG Book here.

How to Win Friends and Influence People (Revised), Dale Carnegie (1981)

Although not strictly an architectural book, Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People has been relevant since its original publication in the 1930s. Carnegie goes over important and underutilized psychological principles to help readers understand and make better connections with absolutely anyone, which is the most important skill for any person in any profession.

You can buy How to Win Friends and Influence People (Revised) here.