Our book report series covers the design books that inspire and engage us, these are the books that get us up in the morning ready to save the world from ugly. Enjoy…

Julius Shulman, Modernism Rediscovered by Pierluigi Serraino, $29.95
Published by Taschen
This is it, the mac-daddy of architectural photography books. Shulman captured buildings so well in his 73 year career as an architectural photographer that his photos are well outlasting the buildings he photographed. There are larger and more thorough volumes of his work but this one sits high on the value to price ratio. If you’re an architect or a photographer this book should be on your shelf.

Building Community, The Work of Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, $65.00
Published by Published by ORO Editions | Gordon Goff
It’s rare for public work in the U.S. to be this elegant and moving; on top of that, add in that EDR is headquartered in New Orleans, a city steeped in tradition and nostalgia. That their work brings such a high caliber of Scandinavian warmth and sensibility to the American palate speaks volumes about the visionary architects behind the projects. It is timeless projects like the ones highlighted in this book that will become the cornerstones of community. They’re doing work that matters; get your hands on a copy of “Building Community.”

Staircases, $25.00
Published by teNeues
Filled with inspiring images, the book breaks stairways down into species and organizes projects by types, materials and details. While entertaining, the book fails to become an office reference, as too many of the featured stairs fail to meet the basic building codes here in the United States. Nonetheless, it’s always floating around the office and its spine has been broken many times from use.

Surprising Singapore, 101 Things To Do, $15.95
Published by ORO Editions | Gordon Goff
We’re big fans of small, succinct travel guides that you can throw in your day bag. The guide’s modern perspective on travel is reflected in the slick, bright graphics. The text is kept attenuated and the pages are saturated with big colorful images and maps.

Model Making by Megan Werner, $24.95
Published by Princeton Architectural Press
If you’ve already got that architecture degree and think you know everything about building architectural models, think again. This neatly organized book does an excellent job covering a wide range of materials, methods and modeling styles. The presentation is so thorough and sharp that we’ve had a hard time putting the book back on the shelf.

Architectural Lighting, Designing with Light and Space by Herve Descottes with Cecilia E. Ramos 24.95
Published by Princeton Architectural Press
Lighting design is a blind spot of most architectural schools; it’s not until architects get out in the professional world that we realize that the importance of lighting on most projects. “Architectural Lighting” is the book that fills this academic lighting void. It’s written very much like a text book, starting with the basics (like the definition of lux) and then, step by step, building a sophisticated understanding of lighting design. To top it all off, the book ends with case studies of some of our favorite projects like Manhattan’s Highline. The appendices have also been cleverly configured to combine solid data with visual appeal.

Waltzing with Brando by Bernard Judge, $35
Published by ORO Editions | Gordon Goff
Waltzing with Brando is a rare look behind the architectural curtain of a distant tropical paradise, an exotic hotel, and a legendary client. While the structure of the book centers on architect Bernard Judge’s adventures of working on an elaborate project for an eccentric client, there is a poetry to the book which belongs entirely to Tahiti. The strikingly authentic photos take you to a culturally rich place of beautiful people, earthly foods and graceful handmade grass huts. It’s difficult to avoid getting lost in the book and the image of an upside-down shell turned sink basin nearly had us buying plane tickets.

Graphic Guide to Frame Construction by Rob Thallon, $24.95
Published by Taunton Press
This might just be the oldest book on our shelves. Someone’s father bought it for us while coming up the ranks and it’s been indispensable ever since. The book is the go-to guide for how to frame just about anything involving residential construction. And while the details aren’t necessarily modern, they’re still the fundamental starting point.

Architecture and Urbanism No.424, Architect’s Offices, $56
It’s fascinating to see how differently architecture firms work and communicate. Volume 424 of a+u gives the observer a private tour of many of modern architecture’s most relevant studios. From the organization to the mess, large photos capture it all. The spaces are exciting, dynamic and just plain fun –corporate America could learn a lot from architecture studios and this book is a great place to start.

Forgotten Modern, California Houses 1940-1970 by Alan Hess, photographs by Alan Weintraub, $50
Published by Gibbs Smith
For anyone interested in the roots of American modernism, this book is a wonder. Composed of quiet, private photographs, it gives the observer a composed look at the projects that changed how people live, work and think. Given the transitory nature of these delicate structures, the book is also a valuable testament to the first stepping stones of the modern language.

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 Books in Seattle, William Stout Architectural Books in San Francisco, Powell’s Books in Portland 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 very 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. If you’d like to send us your book for review, you can contact us for further information.