[All photos by BUILD LLC]
There’s been a notable quantity of new books around the BUILD World Headquarters lately, and they span the gamut from technically useful to excessively poetic. We’ve had time to take a spin through all of them now, and its clear which ones will be dependable tools in our design practice. These are the books that stay open on our desks, with bindings broken and pages bookmarked for reference. In our world, books should be used, not merely displayed. Of the 19 books in today’s review there are some real gems. We’ve found the best way to honor the authors and publishers is to share and recommend them.
FRESH: THE IRRESISTIBLE APPEAL OF GERT WINGÅRDH’S ARCHITECTURE
by Tomas Lauri, $84
Arvinius + Orfeus Publishing
If you want to confront just how conservative architecture in the United States has become, take a spin through Fresh. The work of the Swedish architecture firm, Wingårdhs, ranges from shopping malls and parking lots to embassies and golf clubs, all achieved with the allure and creativity typically reserved for only for museums in the U.S. Each project is a lesson in mastering the art of process, execution and, perhaps most importantly, enrolling clients in the extraordinary.
NEW NORDIC: ARCHITECTURE & IDENTITY
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, $40
In our humble, Scandinavian-trained opinions, this is where architecture needs to be heading. Spearheaded by the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, New Nordic is a thoughtful book spanning all the Scandinavian countries, and comprising decades of architectural investigation. Just as focused on the culture as the architecture, most of the beautiful photographs in this book include people (an important element for most architecture). The rural projects are every bit as design-forward as the urban applications and one design belief abounds; that public space needs to be purposeful and meaningful. If you’re an advocate of modern design, go buy this book.
RURAL STUDIO AT TWENTY: DESIGNING AND BUILDING IN HALE COUNTY, ALABAMA
by Andrew Freear and Elena Barthel with Andrea Oppenheimer Dean, $27
Princeton Architectural Press
Hardworking people creating useful things that are thoughtfully designed. Rural Studio At Twenty is a simple book documenting the work of one of the most purposeful academic design studios in the country. Among the population of architecture books covering highly refined, ridiculously priced projects, this text is refreshingly down-to-earth.
CEREAL: TRAVEL & STYLE
by Rosa Park, $32
There are those who consider simplicity and careful curation not as an art form or a design movement, but rather as a vital component of a person’s well-being. If you’re a member of this tribe, we’re going to let you in on a little secret: Cereal Magazine is the pinnacle of visual harmony and its tagline “Travel & Style” simply doesn’t do it justice. The magazine, which has the feel and value of the best paperback books, gives visual and literary praise to rituals as small as a morning cup of coffee and as dimensional as experiencing the streets of a new city. It’s a young periodical and will require a bit of work to track down. We recommend committing to the subscription and letting Cereal find you biannually.
HYPER-NATURAL: ARCHITECTURE’S NEW RELATIONSHIP WITH NATURE
by Blaine Brownell and Marc Swackhamer, $25
Princeton Architectural Press
There are many architecture books in the space of studying and learning from natural forms. What separates Hyper-natural is its documentation of built projects which directly stem from the research. This book breaks through the academic investigations by examining built applications from a crystalline formed chair to a pavilion based on elastic deformations. While the text is a bit chewy, merely skimming through the projects will make you feel smarter.
TIMBER IN THE CITY
by Andrew Bernheimer, $35
Regardless of scale, there’s something about using timber in architecture that makes people happy. Timber In The City covers both the poetic side of the equation as well as some in-depth information on the technical side. Diagrams, plans, sections and exploded axons get into the nuts and bolts of urban projects both theoretical and realized.
SITE AND SENSES: THE ARCHITECTURE OF AIDLIN DARLING DESIGN
by Michiko Toki, $45
Sonoma Valley Museum of Art
Honestly, we expected the first book exclusively covering the work of San Francisco-based designers Aidlin Darling to be on par with the preciousness of their work. Granted it’s a catalogue published in conjunction with a recent exhibition at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, but the utilitarian nature of this book caught us a bit off-guard. That said, we’re glad it’s on our shelf and we tend to use it as a field guide to Aidlin Darling’s better known projects including some of San Francisco’s most design-conscious restaurants and shops.
LOCAL ARCHITECTURE: BUILDING PLACE, CRAFT, AND COMMUNITY
by Brian MacKay-Lyons and Robert McCarter, $50
Princeton Architectural Press
We’re typically skeptical of any book that’s initiated by a design conference, but when the project roster includes works by Deborah Berke, Lake|Flato, Studio 804, and Miller Hull, it has our full attention. Most of the book lives up to its thesis of place, craft, and community with a range of exemplary projects that dig into their respective genii locorum. The book’s Achilles heel, however, seems to be the inclusion of highly exclusive and private residences for society’s elite. The selected projects from architects Rick Joy, Olson Kundig, and Glenn Murcutt have their place in architectural publications, but their association with community seems to miss the target.
by Keith Moskow & Robert Linn, $40
The Monacelli Press
Fun, inspiring, and easy on the intellect, Contemporary Follies makes you feel like a kid again — the kind of kid that builds forts based on whim and imagination, without constraint from the protocols of architecture. The book covers dozens of projects which use materials in unconventional ways and develop a playfulness of scale difficult to experience in the modern built environment. It’s also nice to see an architecture book that has appeal to more than just the architectural crowd.
by Philip Jodidio, $56
Cabins is an encyclopedia of design experimentation and we tend to use it as a reference manual within the office. With a population of familiar names, the book is both enjoyable to flip through and highly informative. The book’s 463 pages cover projects that are tidy enough to get your mind around, but complex enough to understand a specific architect’s approach. The design explorations cover the spectrum: some esoteric and cost-prohibitive, others down to earth and sensible. The caricature like illustrations for each project create an approachable format that has a wide appeal.
DESIGNED FOR THE FUTURE: 80 PRACTICAL IDEAS FOR A SUSTAINABLE WORLD
by Jared Green, $25
Princeton Architectural Press
This book is about not giving up. Not giving up on climate change, not giving up on biodiversity loss, not giving up on rising economic inequality, and, maybe most importantly, not giving up on ideas and actions. The book has the wisdom to avoid design-speak and probes 80 individuals from a range of fields by asking: “What gives you hope that a sustainable future is possible and what shows the way forward?” Designed For The Future is a tidy collection of those responses and regardless of where you find yourself on the optimism spectrum of saving the planet, the material within matters.
EL CROQUIS: DAVID CHIPPERFIELD (2010 – 2014)
by Fernando Marquez Cecilia and Richard Levene, $117
The El Croquis series is among the most serious of architecture books that you’ll ever come across. Their titles are usually softly spoken and prefaced with an ‘ooh.’ Their price tags require deliberation. This issue is no different, and you really have to be a trained architect to decipher and appreciate the signature high-contrast images. In the wrong hands, the subtle lines of Chipperfield’s geometrically pure office buildings could just as easily be taken for dull, yet perspective-corrected, images of very orderly European streets. It’s difficult to recommend this book as it’s certainly not a necessity in the design studio. At the same time, we’re glad it exists and it’s a visually pleasing experience to look through.
BIG LITTLE HOUSE, SMALL HOUSES DESIGNED BY ARCHITECTS
by Donna Kacmar, $50
Big Little House has become such an important tool at the BUILD office that it missed the photoshoot for this post. We’re still trying to sort out who’s desk it was on but undoubtedly, it was being referenced for the clever ideas, practicality, and modest scale of the projects covered. The projects are small enough to distill the architecture into a comprehensible package, but big enough to involve some complexity. Packed with favorite architects, as well as new ones, the 20 selected projects include site plans, basic floor plans, and sections in addition to the inspiring photos.
a.MaG INTERNATIONAL ARCHITECTURE TECHNICAL MAGAZINE
by Ana Leal & Juan Rodriguez, $50
This might be the most esoteric book we’ve ever browsed. It takes a severe minimalist with a Ph.D. in ascetic architecture to fully appreciate the sixth issues of this series and, at times, we’ve felt as if we should be wearing white gloves simply to turn its pages. The 10 projects covered are admirable designs from architects we respect, but the book takes them to a level of abstraction that makes them seem alien and uninhabitable. There’s also zero information on technical specifications, materials, or dimensions.
by Michelle Galindo, Sven Ehmann, Robert Klanten, $55
Absolutely packed to the brim with projects, ideas, and materials, this book manages to be simultaneously exhilarating and perfectly serene. While many of the kitchens are clearly staged, the clean photos communicate the design concepts extremely well and even include the occasional chef for scale. If your work involves the design of homes or kitchens, this book ought to be a resource on your shelf.
MATERIALS FOR DESIGN 2
by Victoria Ballard Bell and Patrick Rand, $50
Princeton Architectural Press
Materials For Design 2 is dense, but it contains all the data a useful book on architecture should. From diagrams to details, masterful projects are dissected and beautifully explained.
Confirming that this book is the real deal, a series of tables (pages 140-141) indicate the galvanic relationship between, and weathering effects on metals. Diagrams go as far to show the proper milling of lumber to produce wood members with optimal weathering qualities. This is a smart book.
LUNCH AT THE SHOP: THE ART AND PRACTICE OF THE MIDDAY MEAL
by Peter Miller, $25
Along with running Seattle’s most treasured design bookshop, Peter Miller Books, owner Peter Miller can often be found breaking bread and sharing meals with friends, family, or the occasional unsuspecting bystander. Each day Peter performs the graceful ritual of lunch, and we’re lucky enough that this beautiful little book captures the spirit with delicious photos and masterful sketches. This book will make you smile.
DEPOT: THE BIOGRAPHY OF A RESTAURANT (WITH RECIPES)
by Al Brown, $65
Despite the fact that we’re card-carrying foodies, we don’t typically cover culinary books in our reviews. However, the presentation, design, and process of this Auckland based restaurant is simply too significant to ignore. There’s a nostalgic chapter on the coastal design vision of the Depot space, another on the collaborations with steel workers and designers, and numerous image spreads documenting aspects like the restaurant’s collection of reclaimed light fixtures. If you’re a design geek like us, you’ll also be thrilled to find the architectural floor plan of the restaurant (page 22). Naturally the book includes a heaping dish of photographs, flaunting the perfectly charred meats and butter sautéed vegetables — many with recipes to boot. If you’re a design-minded foodie, the danger of this book is more than just its price tag, but the irresistible lure of airfare.
by Magnus Nilsson, $50
Perhaps less about food and more on task with how designed objects are organized and presented, Fäviken will gratify the design senses. With 20,000 acres of farm in northern Sweden, the farmhouse and facilities are a photographer’s daydream. While the introduction delivers some crowd pleasing clichés (Worn European bicycle leaning against red barn? Check.), further in, the book includes striking documentation of the butchering process and hundreds of pages exhibiting prepared dishes which more closely resemble graphic design than what most of us might regard as a meal. If you’re visually-minded, this book is a satisfying 7-course meal for the eyes.
A QUICK NOTE: We adamantly support local bookshops and are loyal supporters of urbanism and community. We encourage you to vote with your money and support exceptional book stores like Peter Miller Architectural & Design Books and Supplies in Seattle, Powell’s City of Books in Portland, William Stout Architectural Books in San Francisco, Hennessey+Ingalls Art & Architecture Bookstore in Los Angeles, and many more around the country that foster culture and community.
A QUICK DISCLAIMER: We don’t read all of these books from cover to cover, as we’re busy designing and building things most days. Our reviews are based on a variety of aspects such as how we use the books in our office and how often they end up open on our desks (as opposed to passively sitting on the bookshelf). The reviews are often based on skimming the books or mining them for specific information. We’re not professional writers or book reviewers; we’re just architects that can’t stop talking about architecture. Got a book suggestion or want to be involved in the play by play? Connect with us on Twitter and Instagram