** Summer Architecture Reading List 2

Summer Greetings: this is Kai, your studio coordinator.

I think Danny’s query from May 4 should inspire us all.  You should all ask yourself: what should I read related to architecture this summer?  Let’s start by having everyone in the class of 2013 suggest the best reading about architecture they have done in the last months that was not assigned for a required class you all took.  We’re looking for things that make us THINK about architecture in new ways, learn about new ideas or buildings or architects. Use the “comments” slot below to share a citation with everyone.  If you have NOT read something that makes you think hard, then go out and get some stuff SOON.  Then tell us what you read, and why you liked it!

I would like to recommend we get materials NOT on websites or blogs, but something published, and on paper (that is usually higher quality, more rigorously vetted materia).   I know “architects hate to read,” and surfing the internet is easier and more fun.  But we MUST read to be good architects, to understand our field, to make advances on what’s out there, to be inspired by ideas and buildings outside of our own small universe.

One place to start is the list of readings on the 2nd year studio website, under 48-200 Lectures & Reading, or the comparable list from my spring studio website 48-205 Lectures & Readings.   You’ll need your CMU andrewID, as the pdfs are stored in the library servers for copyright reasons.  (some of the links may be broken, or may not at first work. Try again later; we’re working on it)

OR: go to any good book store and browse the architecture, art, or philosophy shelves.  Better yet, go to a specilaized architecture book store (there are not many, but if you are near cities such as New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francsisco, Portland, Montreal, definitely look for them, or just use their websites to find good books!).  Many good museums also feature good architecture books.   Pickup and read anything that really interests you!  You do not need to buy the books you see at the store: use www.bookfinder.com or www.amazon.com to buy used books all over the country.  Get used to splurging on some good architecture books for yourself: there is no better way to get inspired and excited about our profession.

OR look at the journals and magazines.  Some of the best magazines are from outside the US, such as: AA Files, A + U: Architecture and Urbanism, Architectural Review, El Croquis, 2G, Domus. Don’t worry if you can’t read the foreign language, look at the plans and photos, and study them carefully, even sketch some things in your sketchbook, as notes.  These journals are available in Hunt, and some of the material can be found online, and of course in most university architecture libraries, in case you live near one (you should visit the nearest architecture school anyways, several times over the summer, check it out). General design magazines like Metropolis, and the US industry standard Architectural Record are available at many bookstores, and can help keep you “in the loop.”

If you do not yet subscribe to Architectural Record, I really recommend it!  It’s cheap, and should be a life-long habit if you are serious about entering some aspect of the architecture field.  Browsing through the internet is NOT the same thing as reading an article in depth, seeing the ads, studying the learning units, and having the thing around constantly.  CMU students get a special discount subscription rates at McGraw Hills’ website for us.   See if Mom will spring for the subscription, maybe enve the multi-year one.  Archl Record

Since you will be taking the survey of Architectural History next semester, alongside studio, and will later need to take at least two more history courses, you could get started on that reading… Two good survey texts are by Trachtenberg, and by Moffett.  I am not sure which Prof. Shaw will ask you to buy.   Every architect should also own (and read) a good survey of modern architecture.  For my course “Modern Architecture & Theory 1900-1945,” I ask all students to read Curtis.  But other classics are by Frampton, and Colquhoun (inexpensive).   If you are looking for some theory, try the anthologies by Jencks or Nesbitt.

I’ll leave you with that for now. I would like all students to suggest readings they have done as comments below.  I will be in touch later in the summer…

Feel free to email me with questions, ideas, concerns: gutschow@andrew.cmu.edu



23 Responses to “** Summer Architecture Reading List 2”

  1. 1 cmuarch2013student
    2009/05/14 at 1:55 pm

    “Histories of the Immediate Present” by Anthony Vidler

  2. 2009/05/14 at 2:08 pm

    For those of you who haven’t read very much architectural writing, there are some really good starter anthologies out there. A really basic one that covers a lot (chronologically and theoretically speaking) and has a readability range from easy to difficult is Sykes’s The Architecture Reader. It also includes some context before each excerpt, and picture or two, so you aren’t thrown straight into the text, which I find is pretty helpful. Amazon has it here (http://www.amazon.com/Architecture-Reader-Essential-Writings-Vitruvius/dp/0807615803/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1242324343&sr=8-1), but it isn’t too obscure, and you can probably find it at your local Borders/B&N/library, etc.

  3. 3 cmuarch2013student
    2009/05/14 at 3:51 pm

    The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses by Juhani Pallasmaa
    – Gives a really good insight on some of the aspects Mary Lou spoke about in her lecture, with architecture engaging more than just the visual, and really giving an enhanced experience of space.

    Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonough & Michael Braungart
    – Although it isn’t STRICTLY architecture, it delves into a lot of our nation’s poor habits since the industrial revolution. It brings out a lot of eye-opening facts about some of the materials and practices being used around you, and talks about a few ideas that we should strive to reach in architecture and design in the future.

  4. 4 Carmen
    2009/05/14 at 4:10 pm

    “…Isms: Understanding Architectural Styles” by Jeremy Melvin

    This book is a short survey of pretty much every architectural style you could think of, divided up by time periods. Each section has lots of pictures and a list of key architects and buildings from the period. Also, the writing style is very direct and is meant to be an introduction to architectural history. I actually just bought this book yesterday, so I haven’t read very much of it yet, but so far it is very good and informative.

  5. 6 gutschow
    2009/05/14 at 11:44 pm

    There’s an interesting list of books tangentially related to architecture, environment, etc. featured on the BLDG BLOG (which is on our Blogroll), at: http://bldgblog.blogspot.com/2009/05/books-received.html. Also a cool pic of a library by MOS architects, who lectured at CMU recently.

  6. 7 mrspots
    2009/05/15 at 11:32 am

    I just started reading the Fountainhead by Ayn Rand.

    I’ve been meaning to read it for some time.


  7. 8 Liam
    2009/05/15 at 12:47 pm

    Right now I’m working on a book called “Expanding Architecture: Design as Activism” published by Metropolis Books. It’s a collection of projects by architects for the public intended to better people’s daily lives. Presents an interesting aspect of the field.


    Another fun one is “Designing the High Line”, which illustrates the process of creating the High Line in New York. Very detailed and full of drawings and renderings.


  8. 9 mzhuber
    2009/05/15 at 6:59 pm

    If you’re looking to buy, I think collections of essays and anthologies are great places to start. They offer a wide array of opinions, often opposing. Since you probably haven’t read much yet, it’s a good idea to explore a number of different views. Plus, they’re easier to peruse in any order if you have an hour one day in the summer, than a massive tome. I would suggest the Kate Nesbit anthology Kai mentioned; it includes a wide range of thematically grouped essays parsing topics that emerged in the wake of modernism. Most of the issues are still relevant today, and most of the authors still writing or practicing as well. A book entitled _Architecture at the Beginning of the 21st Century_ edited by Bernard Tschumi offers a large number of contemporary thinkers, but the essays prove annoyingly short. It can be good to guide you to future reading though.

    Additionally, there are certain classics that every architect should read at some point. It would be a good idea to read some now so you can pick up on the discourse and familiarize yourself with the names and ideas that other writers and studio critics inevitably reference. Most decent libraries should have some of these, even if you don’t live in the city.

    _Complexity and Contradiction_ or _Learning from Las Vegas_ by Robert Venturi, etc.
    _Delirious New York_ or _SMLXL_ by Rem Koolhaas

    … the place where I’m using wifi is closing, so I’ll finish this list later.

  9. 10 Jordan P.
    2009/05/17 at 2:28 pm

    I’m a big fan of the Pamphlet Architecture series, they are fairly inexpensive and packed full of good info, here are a few of my favorites. Both Tooling, and Untold Stories, are very abstract, but I have really enjoyed the concepts and systems within.

    Pamphlet Architecture 21: Situation Normal (Paperback)

    Pamphlet Architecture 29: Untold Stories (Paperback)

    Pamphlet Architecture 27: Tooling (Paperback)

  10. 11 cmuarch2013student
    2009/05/17 at 7:57 pm

    Philadelphia Architecture by Thom Nickels. interesting collection of photos with a little bit of history on every one. sights you wouldn’t think, new and old photos.

  11. 12 mzhuber
    2009/05/17 at 9:05 pm

    Within the Pamphlet Architecture Series I would also recommend _War and Architecture_ by Lebbeus Woods.

    As far as textbooks go, there is nothing more frustrating than purchasing an $80 text that sits on my desk for the entire semester, except a few quick references and the final. Always feel free to talk to upperclassmen about books for your required classes and electives; some can be shared by a friend or whole studio, others are imperative or just worth having. We can tell you which ones are most necessary and useful. We might even have a copy to sell, hopefully at a cheaper rate than anywhere else. But talk to multiple people; some opinions can be biased. I would recommend getting the required book for the history survey course. The weekly readings from our text made up a significant part of the course and almost every written response relied upon a thorough knowledge of those readings. We used the Trachtenberg text which I still flip through and reference today. So if you know which one you will be required to buy, it might be a good idea to get it early and look it over as Kai suggested.

    Don’t forget that you can read non-architecture books too. 1) because sometimes it’s good to get away from architecture for a little while, and we all have other interests. And 2) architects are always inspired by influences outside the discipline. I talked to Tom Wiscombe after his lecture this semester (nervously I might add, although he turned out to be rather down to earth) and he said he reads books on evolutionary biology “like crazy.” Clearly, you can see the outcome. Literature is always good too. Fiction by JG Ballard and Kurt Vonegut had a pretty significant impact on my thinking this semester and I plan on reading more this summer. I love philosophy too, so if you’re looking for suggestions let me know.

  12. 2009/05/21 at 9:22 pm

    I recently found that the best book to read while waiting in the ER is Manuel De Landa’s A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History (http://www.amazon.com/Thousand-Years-Nonlinear-History/dp/0942299329/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1242936538&sr=8-1). Highly recommended. It isn’t strictly architecture, sometimes culture, sometimes urban development, sometimes technological, but always relatively interesting.

    Plus, it has a pretty cool cover.

  13. 14 Liza
    2009/05/23 at 3:30 pm

    Why were you waiting in the ER?

  14. 2009/05/25 at 4:30 pm

    I have just read “UNStudio” by Aaron Betsky which is a collection of UNStudio’s works that I have recently become a big fan of.
    Also, there is a series of books Architectural Design (AD) that has a lot of cool stuff, and focuses on process, rather than a body of work by a particular architect. I chose “Versatility and Vicissitude” and so far it is really interesting, and goes into a good bit of detail on how (for example) certain geometries from nature and the way branches on trees split at particular intervals to maximize surface area of leaves can then lead to a way of looking at structure and how loads can be distributed, parametrics, and all sorts of fun stuff.

  15. 2009/05/26 at 4:34 pm

    I completely forgot to mention Digital Baroque (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0816634025/ref=s9_simx_gw_s0_p14_t1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=13E2J8DMY6A8GYZ2R02N&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=470938631&pf_rd_i=507846) by Tim Murray. Again, not an architecture book, but there are a lot of things here that you can apply to architecture, and plenty of inspiration (DEFINITELY influenced my final studio project). The book is mostly about cinematic composition, digital representation, and “folding” – with a fair number of references to Deleuze, of course. Warning, though: unless you’ve studied both film and philosophy intensely, you probably won’t get a fair number of the references, so it’s best read with Wikipedia (and maybe YouTube) open.

    I also recommend Michael Benedikt’s For an Architecture of Reality. Good, deep stuff (it sometimes takes a while to get through a page), but really tiny book.

  16. 17 Liza
    2009/05/26 at 9:44 pm

    If there was the digital baroque, then it begs the question: was there a digital renaissance?

  17. 18 Jpun
    2009/05/28 at 5:38 pm

    Im currently reading “A Candid Guide to the Profession, Architect?” (revised edition) by Roger K. Lewis. I think its a great book so far because it covers so much about the life of an architect. Its broken down to several sections. 1. to be or not to be…an architect? 2. Becoming an architect 3. Being an architect. Those are all broken down to chapters covering undergraduate and graduate studies, internships, becoming a registered architect, basically everything you could possibly question about the profession.


  18. 2009/06/17 at 10:47 pm

    Just finishing up the last chapter of A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman. Smell is by far the best. Taste is not good to read when you’re hungry.

    But overall, a very interesting tribute to the senses (sometimes technical, sometimes full of metaphors and cultural references, sometimes dialogue) that will at least temporarily make you more aware of certain bodily nuances of your average day-to-day experience. No, not a book about architecture (though it’s mentioned a few times briefly), but certainly applicable.

    Highly recommended.

  19. 2009/06/26 at 12:27 pm

    I stopped by the library the other day to peruse the NJ Ref shelves for something about Louis Kahn’s Trenton Bath House (post on my actual visit to the site coming soon…), and I tripped over a black book without very much cover design. Literally tripped over. Accidental finds are wonderful.

    “Artificial Love” by British architect and writer Paul Shepheard.

    Parts of it read like a novel (some scenes a little too…vivid); meanwhile, Shepheard drops names and philosophies like atomic bombs among his (nonfictional) set of characters. The index is annotated, and is sort of a ghost of the book itself (that doesn’t make sense, I know, but you’ll have to read it yourself to see what I mean; yes, read the index, too!).

    “Machines as architecture” was suppose to be the string holding the book (or three books, as Shepheard writes in his preface) together, but not quite in the Corbusian sense and not about the machine aesthetic. It addresses the question that asks, “What is architecture?” something we’ve been playing pingpong with for ages now. But, that said, it isn’t really a book ABOUT architecture. Or maybe it is. Shepheard’s approach to his topic is a weird sort of optimism, and questions populate the book, growing into something on their own accord.

    Okay, rambling over. Maybe I’ll write an actual post…

    Recommended. (Another thick book, quick read – annotated index eats up half of the page count, which is sort of ironic, but the writing style is itself very fast-paced, too.)

  20. 2009/07/06 at 3:24 pm

    Another great library find I just finished reading: “Streets for People” by Bernard Rudofsky.

    More on this later…

  21. 22 Francis Drake
    2010/04/14 at 9:58 am

    Philadelphia Architecture by Thom Nickels, a “must
    have” on your Philadelphia history/architecture

  22. 2013/05/02 at 4:48 am

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