Frank Lloyd Wright said, “A doctor can bury his mistakes, but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines.” The statement is humorous, but it cannot be gainsaid that architects are like make-up artists. They know what will accentuate a peculiar feature and which strategy will mend a glaring fail.

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These top builders and developers have come up with top-hole projects. Anything “best’ is a result of years of practice and learning. Read these marvelous books on architecture and get ginned up on the basics. Be the best. Learn about brilliant architects and important theories on the subject. These books will help practitioners and students alike. The books are arbitrarily listed.

 

1) A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction by Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, Murray Silverstein

Christopher Alexander proposes a cataloging of the types of problems (or design challenges) and analyzes what lies behind each situation, describing it in its essence and proposing a standard solution.

 

2) The Architecture of the City by Aldo Rossi

This obligatory world-acclaimed book proposes a critical reflection on the value of the collective memory in the architecture (of the city).

 

3) Atmospheres by Peter Zumthor

Peter Zumthor shortly highlights the importance of the sensations in the construction of ‘Athmospheres’, to create a good place for the development of people.

 

4) Complexity and Contradiction on Architecture by Robert Venturi

A “gentle manifesto for a non-straightforward architecture,” Venturi’s book expresses in the most compelling and original terms the postmodern rebellion against the purism of modernism.

 

5) Conversations with Students (Architecture at Rice) by Louis Kahn

This book is an inspiring text based on conversations lead by Louis Kahn in different workshops.

 

6) Experiencing Architecture by Eiler Rasmussen

It is a classic book with a very sensitive atmosphere about promising architecture and design.

 

7) The Eyes of the Skin by Juhani Pallasmaa

This book is a quick, delightful, and inspiring read – and entirely essential as we continue on the asymptote towards entirely digital practice in architecture. Pallasmaa encourages architects to see the world around them not just with sight but with touch, sound, even smell!

 

8) The Image of the City by Kevin Lynch

In this 1960s classic, Kevin Lynch presents studies of how cities are perceived and imagined and shows how his findings can impact the building and rebuilding of cities.

 

9) In Praise of Shadows by Junichiro Tanizaki

This marvel explains the beauty of oriental architecture through their perception of light and shadows in their art and architectural traditions.

 

10) Learning from Las Vegas by Denise Scott Brown, Robert Venturi, Steven Izenour

Seminal work for the history of architecture, the authors analyze the Las Vegas’ strip to better comprehend the common and ordinary architecture, rather than the iconic buildings proclaimed by modernism.

 

11) Mutations by Rem Koolhaas, Stefano Boeri, Stanford Kwinter, Nadia Tazi, Hans Ulrich Obrist

Mutations’ reflects on the transformations that urban accelerating processes inflict on our environment, and on the spaces in which architecture can still operate.

 

12) Neufert Architects’ Data by Ernst Neufert, Peter Neufert

It presents appropriate standard measures and design tips. It’s a very useful book for all architects.

 

13) The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard

Really beautifully written book on the poetics of space within the home. It explores the philosophy of space and how it relates to memories and dreams.

 

14) The Seven Lamps of Architecture by John Ruskin

“Know what you have to do and do it,” said John Ruskin – words which neatly sum the contents of this book. Ruskin’s writing describes lamps as characteristics that any piece of architecture must have in order to be considered this real architecture – in turn, the principles he deems necessary for architecture to be considered art.

 

15) Super studio: Life Without Objects by Peter Lang

This book exposes the work of one of the most famous architecture groups for the radicalization and criticism of utopias.

 

16) Ten Canonical Buildings: 1950-2000 by Peter Eisenman

Based on interesting diagrams and drawings, Peter Eisenman provides evidence of how some renowned architects of the 20th century changed our way of thinking.

 

17) Theorizing a New Agenda for Architecture: An Anthology of Architectural Theory 1965 – 1995 by Kate Nesbitt

A collection of the most important and seminal essays in the field of architecture published between 1965 and 1995.

 

18) The Works: Anatomy of the City by Kate Ascher

After years in architecture school, you may understand how a building is put together – but how much do you actually understand about the processes that make that building function in the first place? Kate Ascher reviews the systems that manage traffic, water, heat, electricity, and much more, tying architecture not just to an image of the urban environment, but to the actual workings of the city.

 

19) Yona Friedman: The Dilution of Architecture by Yona Friedman

Yona Friedman takes up the work of groups such as Archigram to propose cities that propose new ways of inhabiting cities.

 

20) Architecture: Form, Space, and Order by Francis D.K. Ching

This book systematically and exhaustively analyzes the foundations of architectural form, space and arrangement based on prototypes and historical examples from all periods, cultures and geographical areas.

 

21) Architectural Acoustics by David Egan

For many architects, designing for the senses often means simply designing for sight and touch. This book gives a comprehensive overview of designing for sound, from detailed drawings to texts on the subject. The hope? That better acoustic environments will also mean better buildings.

 

22) Detail in Contemporary Architecture Series by Virginia McLeod

As compelling as concepts are to discuss, they’re rarely what makes the experience of a building special – that falls instead to a building’s details. We notice how a wall touches the ground, how a railing curves underneath our hand – but how do you design these things? This book provides vast variety examples to help architects consider and design the details.

 

23) Thermal Delight in Architecture by Lisa Heschong

In an increasingly air-conditioned environment, it can be easy to discount thermal comfort in the design of a building. But architecture (particularly vernacular design) has long been built on traditions surrounding thermal comfort, ranging from Roman baths to Islamic gardens to the porches of Southern US homes. As energy-efficiency increasingly becomes a part of the conversation, it’s wise to learn from the past to design for the future.

 

24) Archigram by Peter Cook

More than a few revolutions took place in the 60s, but perhaps the most memorable one for architects is that of Archigram. The legendary British group created visions for cities that still feel fresh and fantastical today, and are carried on by designers such as Neil Denari, Lebbeus Woods, and Morphosis. This book is an excellent dive into their thinking in their own words, and includes a massive (though unfortunately black and white) selection of their famous collages.

 

25) Atlas of Novel Tectonics by Jesse Reiser

New York-based architects Reiser+Umemoto use short, informative chapters to explain their design process through a series topic that have driven their work.