Beginning an Architecture Library

© Leo Shieh

As the long days of summer are sadly coming to an end, architecture students across the world will be heading back to their universities and preparing for their next studio projects. While the upcoming semester will allow students to master the latest digital modeling programs and perfect their physical modeling skills, the value of reading architectural books (whether they be reference, theory, etc.)  should not be overlooked.   We found a few lists of books that are categorized as “the essentials” for any architecture student. For instance,’s list includes: Le Corbusier’s Towards a New Architecture, Steen Eiler Rasmussen’s Experiencing Architecture, 2nd Edition, Norman Potter’s What is a Designer: Things, Places, Messages and Marc-Antoine Laugier’s Essay on Architecture. ArchiNinja’s list includes Matthew Frederick’s 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School, 10×10 by Editors of Phaidon Press and A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction (Center for Environmental Structure Series) by the Center for Environmental Structure Series.   And, Architecture’s reference list includes Sir Banister Fletcher’s A History of Architecture, Willem Van Vliet’s The Encyclopedia of Housing and James P. Cramer’s Almanac of Architecture & Design 2005, Sixth Edition (Almanac of Architecture and Design).

Which books have you found most helpful in your student or professional career? Share with us the books that are vital pieces of your architecture library.

Cite: Cilento, Karen. "Beginning an Architecture Library" 16 Aug 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 19 Sep 2014. <>


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    what about……

    frank lloyd wright’s visual encyclopedia?

    and for spanish spoken students or people around the world whos willing to deal with books in spanish…

    PLAZOLA “arquitectura habitacional Vol 1 & 2″ and of course the rest of the Plazola books…..and dont forget.

    Frank Lloyd Wright’s “the early work” it’s FLLW’s First Portafolio…. it really helped me a lot during my school years…..

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    “Master Builders” by Peter Blake
    “The City in History” by Lewis Mumford
    “Planet of Slums” by Mike Davis
    “Understanding Sustainable Architecture” by Williamson, Radford, Bennetts

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    New york délire, Rem Koolhas (Parenthèse edition in France) and l’Architecture moderne: une histoire critique, Kenneth Frampton, Thames & Hudson edition

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    Those are must-read classics too I’d say:
    “Death and Life of Great American Cities” – Jane Jacobs
    “Form, space and Order” – Francis Ching
    “Lessons of Architecture” – Herman Hertzberger

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    Materials, Structures, and Standards: All the Details Architects Need to Know But Can Never Find by Julia McMorrough

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    ‘Detail in Contemporary Residential Architecture’ – Virginia McLeod

    Has some great details, includes a cd with all the drawings in cad format aswel – very useful as a student for reference.

    I’d love to see more articles like this!

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    The Endless City by Ricky Burdett

    The Rural Studio: An architecture of Decency by Oppenhiemer-Dean

    Event Cities II by Bernard Tschumi

    Mutations by Rem Koolhaus

    How to Be A Happy Architect by Bauman-Lyons

    Studies in Tectonic Culture by Kenneth Frampton

    BLDG BLOG by Geoff Manaugh

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    “Inquietud teórica y estratégia proyectual en la obra de ocho arquitectos contemporáneos”
    de Rafael MONEO

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    Wiley Publishings “Building Types Basics” series, which covers everything from offices, retail, hospitality, multi-family residential, banks, research laboratories, et. al., is extremely useful.

    You get explanations of what works for those building types in regards to parti, plan, section, dimensions, etc.

    Do yourself a favor and avoid buying the French Literary theory crap they had me read in school.

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    “101 Things I Learned in Architecture School” by Matthew Frederick continues to be great every time I reopen it.

    “Thinking Architecture” by Peter Zumthor has had a strong influence on my perspective of architect-craftsman-client relations.

    “Form, Space, and Order” by Frank Ching was a good freshman-year introduction.

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    I would also recommend Robert Venturi’s “Contradition and complexity in architecture”. A bit more serious but provides an interesting alternative perspective.

    Also “Thinking Architecture” and “Atmospheres” by Peter Zumthor are written in a very pleasant way and are accessible.

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    “101 Things I Learned in Architecture School” by Matthew Frederick is so simple, but tends to jog your memory every time you’re doing design work, no matter how long you’ve been studying/working.

    “The Feeling of Things” by Adam Caruso is also a really great read, particularly if you like the work of Caruso St John (which I do). It gives a really great insight into the ideas behind their work. DEFINITELY worth a read.

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    Oh, and I nearly forgot Hatch, by Kieran Long. I really love this book and would suggest it to anyone. It is made up of short features of the new architects, architectural writers and photographers and artists who are coming through and bringing new ideas to architecture. Each architect/writer/photographer/artist gets 2-4 pages, outlining some of their work and ideas. Brilliant for looking at what other people are coming up with or helping your own creative processes.

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    “For an Architecture of Reality” by Michael Benedikt.

    This small essay is in the same vein as Peter Zumthor and Christopher Alexander’s books.

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