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 24 May 2015. <>
  • joel mexico

    What about “Theorizing a New Agenda For Architecture” ed. Kate Nesbitt?

  • Jake

    constructing architecture by deplazes, great stuff in there

  • jesus lara

    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…..

  • brb001

    “Harold and the Purple Crayon” by Crockett Johnson.

  • Ali Manco

    “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

  • Aaa

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

  • Yorik

    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

  • Fellipe Mariano

    “Arquitetura: ordem, espaço e forma” (Francis D.K. Ching)

  • John

    Frank Ching: Form, Space and Order

  • Evan

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

  • Jeffry Burchard

    Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce

    An architectural education is necessarily larger than drawing guides and “coffee-table” Wrights.

    • benke

      just curious, why read finnegans wake? whats the connection?

  • Cal

    ‘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!

    • amonle

      pleasantly surprised to see this one here – a keeper

  • Toussaint Jimenez

    Studies in Tectonic Culture: The Poetics of Construction in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Architecture. MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., 2001.

  • Kris

    “How Buildings Learn” by Stewart Brand

    “A Pattern Language” by Christopher Alexander

    • Kris

      And “Invisible Cities” by Italo Calvino

      • Justin

        Phenomenal book. Always helps get my mind in the right place to design

  • Robert White

    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