Blogs/pieces of writing that make you think


Which books or writings on architecture that have stuck with you and changed the way you think? You can also include podcasts in the suggestions.

Oct 16, 21 4:50 am

Mumford's The City in History and Zumthor's Atmospheres were both memorable; maybe a more surprising one was Koren's Flower Shop, less architectural but interesting for how different elements and strategies came together.

Oct 16, 21 4:16 pm  · 
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Non Sequitur

Last Chance to See - Douglas Adams

Scar Tissue - Anthony Kiedis

Unweaving the Rainbow - Richard Dawkins

How To and What If - Randall Munroe

Planet of Slums - Mike Davis

High-Rise - JG Ballard

God is Not Great - Christopher Hitchens

Oct 16, 21 5:27 pm  · 
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Number one: For An Architecture Of Reality by Michael Benedikt. I can’t even explain how much influence this tiny book had on me.

Second, lots of various short texts by Alvaro Siza.

Third, Vineland by Thomas Pynchon, in which he jokes that Deleuze and Guatarri’s most important text was The Italian Wedding Fake Book.

Oct 16, 21 10:31 pm  · 
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Complicity and Conviction: Steps Toward an Architecture of Convention by William Hubbard

The Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander

Oct 17, 21 1:48 am  · 
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Funny coincidence: Bill was my undergrad advisor, and one of Alexander's proteges / co-authors was my graduate advisor. Both excellent thinkers. I'm slightly embarrassed to admit I haven't read Complicity & Conviction. I'll put it on the list!

Oct 18, 21 1:16 pm  · 
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It’s absolutely brilliant. Mr. Hubbard uses three examples from other corners of culture (games, typography, and the law) to argue that architects need to find ways to guide the public to building conviction about their work. It’s smart and so insightful. It’s really been influential on my outlook.

Oct 18, 21 1:25 pm  · 
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tduds: I reached out to Mr. Hubbard a few years back, when I was on the publications committee for the ICAA. Complicity and Conviction was long out of print, and I thought he might be interested in a new edition. He seemed genuinely surprised that I was interested in republishing it. He didn’t think it was understood and appreciated at the time of original publication, and he regarded it as one of his lost children, I think.

Oct 18, 21 1:29 pm  · 
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I told him how much the book meant to me, and that I always buy up all the copies I can find to give to friends and students. He laughed, and said, “so YOU are the guy who buys up all the used copies on Amazon!”

Oct 18, 21 1:31 pm  · 
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A Darwinian Theory of Beauty

Oct 17, 21 1:51 am  · 
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Wood Guy

A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander has by far been the most influential for me. I think about the lessons in it daily. 

Sarah Susanka's Not So Big House series may not be considered classic architectural writing, and in many ways I consider it to be a simplified recap of A Pattern Language. But I appreciate how much of an impact it has had on the industry--for many years, most of my clients had read it and wanted to follow the lessons it taught. I can't say that any classic architectural tome has had that kind of direct influence. 

Another low-brow book: House, by Tracy Kidder. I recall details regularly, 30 years after reading it, and it has had factored into every career move I've made. 

Oct 17, 21 10:35 am  · 
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I think A Pattern Language is one of the most underrated and mis-understood books in all of architecture. It's a fantastic way of framing design thought that's all-too-frequently misinterpreted as prescriptive.

Oct 18, 21 1:10 pm  · 
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That book was drummed into us in first year. Didn't help that we had two profs who were disciples of Christopher Alexander form Berkeley. Still a good read and to be taken with "a grain of salt " . Unfortunately we had guys quote which patterns they used in their first term presentations to the profs.... kind of like design by numbers!

Oct 18, 21 4:52 pm  · 
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We had that problem a lot in our studios as well. To me, that's the great misinterpretation of the philosophy. Design is not picking from the pattern book, it's establishing your own patterns and applying them consistently across scales.

Oct 18, 21 5:39 pm  · 
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I love my compilations of Michael Sorkin and Ada Louise Huxtable's criticism. (Architecture, Anyone? All over the Map, Exquisite Corpse) because they taught me about the larger context - both built and societal - that our projects have to fit into. And also just a ton of really incisive observations about architects, architecture, and urbanism, and usually not in a flattering way!

In the same vein, the Lebbeus Woods blog is amazing. I read it when he was writing it, but I still go back and read it now.

Oct 18, 21 11:06 am  · 
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I teach an excerpt from 'Eyes of the Skin' by Juhanni Pallasmaa and feel like I find something new on every successive reading. 

Also anything by Carlo Rovelli, most recently "The Order of Time"

Oct 18, 21 1:17 pm  · 
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since i'm on here anonymously i'll share my guilty secret - i actually hate reading about architecture. architecture history, or monographs, or biographies, those are great and i eat them up! but prose musings on the theory or experience of architecture do nothing for me at all.

am i alone in this? I'm not some luddite or ignoramus either - I truly love architecture as an art and practice. And I generally enjoy reading non-fiction, particularly history and literature. But when it comes to my arts, I'm visual / audio only.

just to share something, here is some prose essay writing i absolutely love. thinking expressed with words, rather than writing for its own sake.

Oct 18, 21 11:17 pm  · 
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Non Sequitur

I’m in your camp. I quit the theoretical cold turkey almost instantaneously once I left school. Just so much better stuff out there. No worth it to keep those blinders on.

Oct 18, 21 11:51 pm  · 
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Oct 20, 21 2:32 am  · 
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The Architecture of Happiness, by Alain de Botton

A magnificent book about the nuance of architectural impact on the human psyche by a non-architect. Brilliant and insightful.

Oct 28, 21 6:39 pm  · 

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