Javier Arbona (DRAGON )
1. Else/Where: Mapping
Janet Abrams and Peter Hall. University of Minnesota Design Institute , 2006.
I'd go down the laundry list of laudatory cliches, but I won't. Simply, it's a great resource of a book, and timely...though maybe not timeless. Making sense of each others' placement in the seeming chaos of capitalist space can be liberating and can be also used against us, not to mention that we can use it against each other. Or we might just be reproducing something without intervening in it. This book exposes many creative projects though I still think it would help to have a simpler, more straightforward narrative. At times, the font mess gets in the way of reading the multiple texts. Will it remain as a fleeting portrait of the times? Time will tell.
2. Sartre On Cuba
Jean-Paul Sartre. Ballantine Books , 1961.
What a find I made in my grandparent's shelves! This is a very personal account of Sartre's trip to Cuba early in the revolution. He thought he had found the "new man" of socialism yet he was also well aware that Castro's true moment would be brief. Yup. Read the book to find out why he was right. It's also full of thought-provoking matter on whether or not theories and practices can in reality be co-developing things. Here are some excerpts.
3. Uneven Development: Nature, Capital and the Production of Space
Neil Smith. Basil Blackwell , 1984, 1990.
Download from the Center for Place, Space and Politics
Smith is a professor of geography and anthropology at the CUNY Graduate Center. If I'm not mistaken, he did his PhD at Johns Hopkins under David Harvey (read: hard core Marxist dude). He has written extensively on gentrification and spatial politics. According to Smith, in order to subordinate the environment and 'make live and let die,' (...or biopower, that is, as Foucault calls it...), the capitalist state must first isolate nature from social relations (see also Polanyi). "The fact of the externality of nature is enough to legitimate nature's subjugation" (p. 15). The "exorcism" of social activity from "external nature" is the key to understanding also the production of an isolated social space. We would not conceptualize, and thus commodify, social space were it not for a simultaneous conceptualization of both an external nature and an abstract space.
4. "Society Must Be Defended"
Michel Foucault. Picador, 2003.
Well, wanna get into some spaces of biopower?
5. De Rerum Natura (The Way Things Are)
Lucretius Indiana University Press , 1968.
It is hard to imagine anything like this poem in the present. Lucretius wrote this in verse as a readable exposition for the masses about the essence of matter and devised it relationally, instead of relying on rational scientific proof that was unattainable at the time of writing. And it's amazing how right he got it. It is said that Lucretius was immensely influential in Marx's dialectical materialism.
6. Future Anterior, Journal of Historic Preservation
Jorge Otero-Pailos , Founder and Director. GSAPP, Columbia University.
Great time every few months when I get my copy of Future Anterior in the post, which is at the forefront of theory on preservation, but most of the issues are also up on on the web as PDF's for y'all. Simply, where else would I have learned about prophylactic preservation?
7. Sanctuary for All Life.
Jim Corbett. Howling Dog Press , 2005.
Being an atheist, I wouldn't say I agree with Corbett's holy-rolling beliefs but still, this book helped me better see through most claims about "sustainability" and "ecological" or "green...". What else are relations with nature under capitalism than exploitative relations with each other? As an alternative to that society, Corbett lived a life of pastoralism and what he called "covenant community," see more on this...
8. Architecture of the San Francisco Bay Area
Mitchell Schwarzer. William Stout Publishers, 2006.
If in San Francisco, pick this up at William Stout and go out on the hunt for those Quincy Jones, William Wurster and Bernard Maybeck treasures.
PIG? Marx's Ecology: Materialism and Nature
John Bellamy Foster. Monthly Review Press , 2000.
Hard to pack up this book. It's quite the intellectual tonnage here. Foster goes deep into Marx archives to recover (or invent?) not a "Marxist ecology," but Marx's materialist approach to ecology understood in the widest sense. Also takes down a lot of traditional activist assumptions about humans apart from nature.
Bryan Boyer (MONKEY )
The 9 Books I Probably Should Have Read in 2006 But Didn't
(in no particular order)
Editor's note: all 'opinions' expressed here are completely unfounded and based upon no actual 'reading'- surface, deep, or otherwise- and thus should be taken with little or no weight. We can, however, tell you that we are very talented at reading books by their covers and, if nothing else, these books have nice covers. Most of them, anyways.
1. Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy
Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel. The MIT Press , 2005.
If nothing else, having a tome this hefty with the name "Bruno Latour" on its spine will make you look like a smarty pants. The design of the cover and interior are sure to impress with their textbook chic, but the real prize here is the wealth of essays on a range of topics. I have no idea what they say, but smart people wrote them.
2. Mountain Man Dance Moves: The McSweeney's Book of Lists
McSweeney's. Vintage , 2006.
Unleash the urban planner within by reading "Things This City Was Built On, Besides Rock 'n' Roll" or spice up your next crit with some fodder from "Adjectives Rarely Used by Wine Tasters." In typical McSweeney's fashion, this book presents a completely random assortment of lists which will almost certainly provide no practical benefit whatsoever (except a lot of laughter).
3. The Function of Ornament
Farshid Moussavi and Michael Kubo. Actar , 2006
It's hard to read a book that's mostly comprised of pictures but who am I kidding, that's the way we like it. I will, however, admit to browsing the pages and even reading a paragraph or two of the intro and can say that this book represents a return to architectural research as drawing. If it's a harbinger for 2007, I'm excited to see what else Actar and whoever else dares to draw can come up with. Props also go to the GSD students who worked on this book and the seminar which served as the preparation for it.
4. KGID (Konstantin Grcic Industrial Deisgn)
Florian Bohm. Phaidon Press , 2007
I love facets. I also love getting a peek into the design process that produces all of the work in a shing monograph, which is why this book is great because it reproduces the finished work along side the process models and sketches.
5. Everyware: The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing
Adam Greenfield. New Riders Publishing , 2006.
Mr. Greenfield may be appalled that I never finished reading the manuscript he sent me, but we chalk it up to being on deadline. Either way, from the countless times I've heard Adam explain his ideas over drinks I can assure you that he is thinking in the right direction. Along with people like Peter Yeadon , Adam is asking questions now about technology that will be an integral, inescapable part of our life in no time. I hope someone out there is listening to both of them.
6. The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation
Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon. Hill and Wang , 2006
The importance of this book is in its power to demonstrate how the medium of comics is useful to pursuits outside of entertainment and casual reading. I bought it after hearing the authors on NPR, quickly found the parallel timeline which shows the events of all five fateful flights, and closed the shocked at what a colossal failure of communication 9/11 happened to be. This is the sort of thing that should find its way into Tufte's next book.
7. Floor Plan Manual: Housing: 3
Friederike Schneider. Birkhauser , 2004.
Through a confluence of fates or maybe pure chance, 2006 was the year of housing for me and this book was invaluable. Lots of multi-family housing projects represented at the same scale with the same set of critical information provided for each: what's not to love? Throw in a custom plastic ruler which allows you to quickly calculate sqf. and a comparative chart listing all of the projects and I'm sold. My only advice is that you buy the hardcover, because thing thing is going to get some heavy use.
8. Guide To Contemporary Architecture In America: Vol. 1 Western U.S.A.
Masayuki Fuchigami. Toto, 2005.
Please, please, please before you spend your money on a trip to some far-flung country, get in your car and drive (or take a train or bus)! If you live in the US drive to the Grand Canyon, to Toledo, to Denver, anywhere! If you live elsewhere, drive to the interesting, out-of-the-way places that your own home turf provides. It's easy to see the greener grass elsewhere, but America does have some pretty fantastic things to see between NY and LA, and this guide book is a great way to see them.
PIG The Visual Food Encyclopedia
François Fortin and Serge D'Amico. Macmillan , 1996
Of all the books on this list which I have supposedly not read, this is the one exception. I love the Visual Food Encyclopedia and it has been a trusty source for answering all of my culinary questions. So, next time you need to find out how many calories are in a scallion, crack open the Encyclopedia and feast your eyes on the lovingly drawn vector foodstuffs. Page 540 may tell you which part of the pig a ham hock comes from, but it wont tell you what's in store for 2007 because that is up to you (so long as it involves some bacon).
Marlin Watson (DRAGON )
8. Time’s Magpie: A Walk in Prague
Myla Goldberg. Crown Journeys Press , 2005.
Notwithstanding the fact that I have never been to Prague, Goldberg’s ex-pat portrayals of Prague are perfectly constructed little pieces of non fiction. The book transcends its intentions as a tour guide and becomes a catalog of Goldberg’s incisive perspective into how Prague functions and the nuances of daily conduct in a formerly communist city.
7. Bench Press
Sven Lindqvist. Granta Books , 2003.
Author Sven Lindqvist weaves together the history of bodybuilding as sport with his personal experiences of learning to weight train into a Dantean journey of rediscovery where his body’s potential for both violence and spirituality are explored.
6. Freight Train Graffiti
Roger Gastman, Darin Rowland, Ian Sattler. Harry N. Abrams , 2006.
Gastman manages to write both a prequel and follow-up to Subway Art - the seminal graffiti art monograph published in the eighties - by tracing the history of American railroads, the depression-era hobos and their distinct form of iconography, and spotlighting the graffiti writers who use the freights as their first choice of canvas today. A beautifully organized book.
5. Road Work: Among Tyrants, Heroes, Rogues, and Beasts
Mark Bowden. Penguin, 2006.
Road Work collects many of the best magazine articles written by Mark Bowden, author of Black Hawk Down. He is, as The New York Times calls him, “A master of narrative journalism.” Essays range from the bureaucratic politics of Sylvester Stallone’s push to have his Rocky statue atop the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum made permanent, an oddly humanizing history of Sadaam Hussein, and cocaine rings in the American suburbs.
4. Sarajevo Marlboro
Miljenko Jergovic. Archipelago Books , 2004.
Short fiction about life in Bosnia during the recent war. What would otherwise be gentle narratives about coming into adulthood become gracefully and unobtrusively affected by a backdrop of destruction.
3. My Misspent Youth: Essays
Meghan Daum. Open City Books , 2001.
A collection of essays by Los Angeles Times Columnist Meghan Daum. Her wit and candor display a personal honesty about life in our culture of late capitalism that affect in a way only Gnarles Barkley’s St. Elsewhere album has done: offering stories so deeply heartbreaking that they become sadistically pleasurable and invigorating.
2. A+U No. 428: Implementing Architectre
Moshen Mostafavi and Mason White. A+U Publishing , 2006.
Edited and assembled by Archinect’s own Mason White, an in-depth exploration of the realities of architectural practice. By focusing on project architects, this volume is a refreshingly honest dissertation on how buildings get built and how field decisions get made - minus the clutter of theory. Taken together, the essays can be seen as one complete narrative, culminating in a revealing essay by Prince-Ramus on the Seattle Public Library where he sidesteps the question of his role as project architect altogether by espousing the death of authorship. Also included are essays on the history of architectural education at Cornell. This volume should be required reading.
1. The Pentagon’s New Map
Thomas P.M. Barnett. Berkley Books , 2006.
A nonpartisan geopolitical examination of war and peace in the 21st century, The Pentagon’s New Map is an extension of and a leap beyond Thomas Friedman’s book, The Lexus and the Olive Tree. Barnett concludes this informative work with a startlingly feasible retort to the most basic presumption about human nature: A world without war is indeed possible. Party banter about globalization will never be the same.
PIG I am Alive in Los Angeles
Mike the PoeT. iUniverse , 2006.
Mike Davis is quoted on the cover declaring, “In the city of quartz, he is his generation’s Walt Whitman”. I hope he’s wrong, because this is the worst book I’ve ever read. It’s plagued with copy editing issues, grammatical mistakes, and filled with poetry so bad it rivals verses I received in high school from angry ex-girlfriends. However, the poems and essays contain so much factual and cultural insight on life in Los Angeles that not only did I walk away from it in love with Los Angeles all over again, but I handed it off to other native Angelinos. It’s an insightful read on contemporary culture in Southern California, but at the cost of a taxing engagement with typeface. Cheers to indie press.
Aaron Plewke (COCK )
1. Constructing Architecture - Materials, Processes, Structures
Andrea Deplazes. Birkhäuser , 2005.
At 500 pages, this tome out of the ETH elegantly and thoroughly aligns the theoretical and practical aspects of materials, their joining, and their final manifestation as structures.
2. Mack Scogin Merrill Elam: Knowlton Hall
Todd Gannon. Princeton Architectural Press , 2005.
Far more useful than any coffee table monograph, this volume from the Source Books in Architecture series covers MSME's journey, from their initial conversations with students and faculty to photographs of the completed building. The meat of the book is an in depth look at their design process for this project, with chapters including Preliminary Design, Schematic Design, Design Development, Final Drawings, and Execution (construction).
3. Building Barcelona: A Second Renaixença
Peter G. Rowe. Actar , 2006.
Rowe curates the recent history of Barcelona's urban development into an account that is personal, critical and optimistic. This book pairs nicely with...
4. Barcelona: The Urban Evolution of a Compact City
Joan Busquets. Nicolodi Editore , 2005
Busquets offers an encyclopedic look at Barcelona's advance from a Roman outcropping to a sophisticated European city.
5. On Bullshit
Harry G. Frankfurt. Princeton University Press , 2005.
Hilarious and on point. As a piece of analytic philosophy, it's a solid clarification of an illusive concept. As an evaluation of a pervasive aspect of contemporary life, it's brilliantly insightful. Everyone should read this essay. previously
6. Variations on a Theme Park
Michael Sorkin. The Noonday Press , 1992.
I picked this up for $7.50 at a used bookstore in Wicker Park (Chicago) over the holiday break. Although 15 years old, many of these essays (by the likes of Margaret Crawford, Mike Davis, and others) still apply, perhaps now more than when they were initially published.
7. Peter Walker and Partners
Peter Walker. Distributed Art Publishers , 2005.
This beautifully designed monograph covers recently completed projects, projects in progress, urban design proposals, and competition entries. Project photographs almost always include people. Illustrations are clear and elegant. Project descriptions move beyond the surface, offering the engaged reader something to sink their teeth into.
8. Thinking Architecture
Peter Zumthor. Birkhäuser , 2006.
Here's an excerpt from my favorite portion of the book, perhaps the most telling of his thoughts on architecture, as compared to the thoughts and preoccupations of many others:
"The world is full of signs and information, which stand for things that no one fully understands...Yet the real thing remains hidden...Nevertheless, I am convinced that real things do exist, however endangered they may be...objects, made by man...which are what they are, which are not mere vehicles for an artistic message, and whose presence is self-evident."
PIG The Architecture of Happiness
Alain de Botton. Pantheon Books , 2006.
Easy to read, yet still worth reading. Even if you don't agree with de Botton's overall message, many of his points warrant further consideration.
Enrique Ramirez (PIG )
1. Against the Day
Thomas Pynchon. Penguin , 2006.
It's hard not to include a brand-new Pynchon book on any Top 8 list. It also has the funniest character ever written into a novel in the past couple of years: the Archduke Franz Ferdinand.
2. Crafting a Modern World
Multiple authors. Princeton Architectural Press , 2006.
Long overdue monograph on a near-forgotten modernist master. Raymond's modernisms were of a tempered variety: along with decidedly European elements, his work also evoked regional Japanese building styles and materials.
3. The Bureaucracy of Beauty
Arindam Dutta. Routledge , 2006.
A nice example of how a topic of architecture/design history can become a vital piece of cultural history.
4. The Fire
Jörg Friedrich. Columbia University Press , 2006.
A devastating and harrowing account of the physical and human toll caused by Allied bombing raids against German cities.
5. Atlas of Novel Tectonics
Jesse Reiser. Princeton Architectural Press , 2006.
Perhaps the best theory book put our by practitioners in recent years. In terms of production, this is a gem of a book, with the subtle topographies of the front/back covers, as well as the old-school illustration inserts throughout the text. The Sanford Kwinter introduction is … irrelevant?
Oakley Hall. New York Review of Books, 2006 .
Shootouts, mine explosions, corrupt sherriffs, random gunplay. The first postmodern western, a beautifully-written evocation of the American West as a desolate landscape marred by human violence. Think of a brainer, subtler Cormac MacCarthy.
7. Gravity's Rainbow Illustrated
Zak Smith. Tin House Books , 2006.
Weird, difficult, challenging … yet absolutely ravishing in scope.
8. Written Into The Void: Selected Writings 1990-2004
Peter Eisenman. Yale University Press , 2007.
My copy is autographed. What about yours?
the new student-run architectural publication at Princeton. Why? Because it has the letters "P" "I" "G".
Stephanie Clarkson (MONKEY )
1. Heidegger's Hut
Adam Sharr. MIT Press , 2006.
An interesting and detailed analysis on the philosopher and his place.
Chalk full of images concerning the man and his hut. Sharr even went
as far to produce models and architectural drawings. Can seem overly
technical at times, but for me definitely shed a new light on what
building, dwelling, and thinking was all about.
2. I Like You
Amy Sedaris. Warner Books , 2006.
If you need to know how to make a gypsy costume, learn to crazy
stitch, write invitations, make a cheese ball, or care for rabbits,
then this book is for you. I mainly include it because every page had
something on it that made me laugh.
3. The Bauhaus
Hans M. Wingler. MIT Press , 1961.
I picked this book up used one sad winter day after walking past it
sitting in a window for several months. Its black case has some
unidentifiable smears, and the spine is a bit sun damaged, but I do
believe that it is the first edition of the English translated text
and worth far more than the bargain I made. This is the comprehensive
history of the Bauhaus full of correspondence on how to be addressed,
images, course lists, budgets, and excellent biographical material on
those involved with this pivotal school of design. Oh, did I mention,
loads of big pictures?
4. Hiroshima Mon Amour
Marguerite Duras Grove Press , 1961.
First I merely viewed Resnais exquisite film Hiroshima Mon Amour, I
tracked down the DVD and plowed through everything I possibly could
there. Then a friend clued me into the available podcasts from UC
Berkeley one of which being Hubert Dreyfus' class on Existentialism in
Literature and Film, after hearing him refer to some book with some
pictures I got on the old internet auctioning site and now on my shelf
resides a lovely and delightful book filled with pictures, script,
scene and character descriptions. Thus satiated my quest for ingesting
all that I could of Hiroshima.
5. Future Systems
Deyan Sudjic. Phaidon , 2006.
Phaidon is commonly known for their ability to put together a book,
this gem with a reflective cover is no different. When I first opened
it I thought my friend had sent me a misprint with pages from their
design classics series as the book is organized in somewhat of a
S.M.L.XL fashion, beginning with Future Systems product designs.
Handsome Pictures and sufficient info.
6. Diane Arbus a Biography
Patricia Bosworth. Knopf , 1984.
I got my first taste of Arbus' work this summer at the Walker Art
Center, and became enormously intrigued by her. This is hardly a new
or unique story of a female artist, but Bosworth develops a biography
through extensive interviews that is enormously informative on this
mythical woman. The combination of discovering this woman's work,
story, and anticipating the release of non-biopic Fur made for an
exciting half year of Arbusmania in my sphere.
7. Drawing Restraint Vol. II
Matthew Barney. Uplink, 2005.
This book primarily contains imagery from Barney's Drawing Restraint 9
(yeah there's some stuff about restraints 10 and 11 too). What I can
tell you after reading the essays from Yuko Hasegawa and Luc Steels
(contained within this book) and then viewing No Restraint, (film
about the making of DR9) is that I feel more prepared than ever to
watch a Matthew Barney film, like I might actually be able to make
some sense of it and not seem quite so pretentious.
8. Chuck Klosterman IV
Chuck Klosterman. Scribner , 2006.
This was my first read of his. Being a fan of popular culture and
music I devoured this. It left me with the opinions that Val Kilmer
and Bono are decidedly weird and Rock Cruises featuring Styx, REO
Speedwagon, and Journey are decidedly awesome. Wait was the bit about
the cruise and in one of his other books? I can't remember, they all
are sort of the same.
PIG Cold-drill (http://www.cold-drill.com/)
Issue 36, 2006
This is a local literary magazine. I make it my pig because my best
friend had two poems published in it, and one of them is about me.
John Jourden is an (a)rchitect and pathological thinker living in New York.