Monday, October 19, 2009

Books Architects Own

Over the weekend, my husband and I went to a co-ed baby shower for our good friends, held at the home of another friend of theirs, who I hadn't really met before. But as soon as I walked in, I knew one of them was an architect. How did I know? Because on the shelf were two books only an architect would own:

S M L XL by Rem Koolhaas and Bruce Mau, with Hans Werlemann
S,M,L,XL presents a selection of the remarkable visionary design work produced by the Dutch firm Office for Metropolitan Architecture (O.M.A.) and its acclaimed founder, Rem Koolhaas, in its first twenty years, along with a variety of insightful, often poetic writings. The inventive collaboration between Koolhaas and designer Bruce Mau is a graphic overture that weaves together architectural projects, photos and sketches, diary excerpts, personal travelogues, fairy tales, and fables, as well as critical essays on contemporary architecture and society.

The book's title is also its framework: projects and essays are arranged according to scale. While Small and Medium address issues ranging from the domestic to the public, Large focuses on what Koolhaas calls "the architecture of Bigness." Extra-Large features projects at the urban scale, along with the important essay "What Ever Happened to Urbanism?" and other studies of the contemporary city. Running throughout the book is a "dictionary" of an adventurous new Koolhaasian language -- definitions, commentaries, and quotes from hundreds of literary, cultural, artistic, and architectural sources.

Mechanical and Electrical Equipment for Buildings (aka MEEB)

This got me thinking, what other books do pretty much all (American) architects own? First off, some books, like MEEB, that s/he probably purchased for school but found pretty helpful, so they kept, like Fundamentals of Building Construction: Materials and Methods by Allen, et al.

Definitely something by Francis D. K. Ching, most likely either Architectural Graphics or Building Construction Illustrated. Or both.

Maybe a copy of Architectural Graphic Standards, but maybe an old edition or the student version, not the newest edition (#11, sayeth Amazon), because its so expensive.

Some more theoretical books, too. I'd guess everybody owns Learning from Las Vegas: The Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form by Robert Venturi, Steven Izenour and Denise Scott Brown

There's a book about an architect you picked out yourself, maybe Thinking Architecture by Peter Zumthor or something about Herzog & de Meuron, like Herzog & de Meuron 1992-1996: The Complete Works (Volume 3) (aka, the orange one).

Plus, a book about an architect a family member bought you: Frank Lloyd Wright: The Masterworks. Always FLW.

Anyone else have any ideas for this list?

1 comment:

  1. As an Urban Planner there are a few books that I *wish* every Architect owned...Like The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs.

    After leafing through it 2 or 3 times when it first came out, I gave up trying to understand S M L XL. Its lack of easily perceived organization (at least for this non-architect) made me scratch my head and put it down.


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