In this excerpt from Reinier de Graaf's new book Four Walls and a Roof: The Complex Nature of a Simple Profession (Harvard University Press), the all-pervasive work and pedagogical practice of Ernst Neufert is put under the spotlight. Was he an architect, a teacher, or something larger than both? In examining Neufert's ardent pursuit of the "norm", De Graaf sheds light on the impact and enduring legacy of the author of Architect’s Data.
His built output—a few industrial complexes, some housing projects, and the Quelle Mail Order headquarters in Nuremberg—is not much to speak of, but his name is known to every practicing architect: Ernst Neufert, author of Architect’s Data, more commonly referred to as Neufert.  If the importance of an architect equals the extent to which his work lives on in others, Neufert is the most important of the twentieth century. There is probably no architect who has not used Neufert, whether as a didactic tool or as a volume of references. It contains all the necessary information to design and execute works of architecture. Neufert is enduringly popular. As of 2016, it is in its forty-first German edition, has been translated into seventeen languages, and has sold over 500,000 copies.