Best Books for Architecture Enthusiasts

A friend recently asked me for some suggestions for good books about architecture, so I turned to a list I made last year and, in reviewing it, realized how much it was missing. From Vitruvius to Jane Jacobs, there have been so many thoughtful writers who've explored the built environment in words. I've expanded the list a little, but it's still incomplete — add your recommendations for best architecture books in the comments.

  1. Minimum by John Pawson: He's a master of negative space, and his book reveals the rigorous editing and the reverence for emptiness that well-crafted minimalism demands.
  2. The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton: The author explores why and how architecture makes us feel a certain way, and what we can do to deepen our connection to the spaces we inhabit.
  3. A Place of My Own: The Education of an Amateur Builder by Michael Pollan: His personal account of building a writer's shed explores the physicality of architecture at its most basic — from laying foundations to framing windows.
  4. The Ten Books of Architecture by Vitruvius: When I used to work at an architecture firm, one of the partners quoted this book to me constantly. Even if you're not a fan of ancient Roman writers, Vitruvius is the foundation of academic architectural studies, so you may as well learn it.
  5. Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough: Since its publication in 2002, this critique of wasteful design and production has been embraced as a manifesto for green design.
  6. Tiny Houses by Mimi Zeiger: A beautifully photographed, comprehensive look at contemporary small space living.
  7. Toward an Architecture by Le Corbusier: A classic collection of essays by one of the world's greatest architects, re-released in 2007 with a new, well-publicized English translation by John Goodman.
  8. Thinking Architecture by Peter Zumthor: The 2009 Pritzker Prize winner is also an engaging writer who speaks about architecture in terms of personal, poetic moments.
  9. Modernism Rediscovered by Julius Shulman: This 3-volume collection is a wonderful overview from the master of modernist architectural photography.
  10. The House Book from Phaidon Press: Homes by 500 architects, beautifully photographed and presented in alphabetical order.
  11. The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs: A classic treatise on the impact of urban planning that argues on behalf of diverse, compact cities.
  12. The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard: A philosophical, phenomenological book about how our homes affect us.
  13. S, M, L, XL by Rem Koolhaus, O.M.A., and Bruce Mau: A collage of essays, photographs, drawings, and manifestos by one ultra-influential architect and one visionary graphic designer.
  14. On Architecture: Collected Reflections on a Century of Change by Ada Louise Huxtable: Insightful essays from one of the most important architecture critics of the 20th century.
  15. AIA City Guides from the American Institute of Architects: Comprehensive guides to the best American architecture, perfect for a self-guided tour of your city. Newly released — the comprehensive, updated AIA Guide to New York City!

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