1. Understanding Design

    Title Understanding Design

    Author Kees Dorst

    ISBN 978-1-58423-265-0

    Review

    Required to purchase this for an adjunct in 2010, I read this in the summer of 2011 while on and off of planes, and that is just the type of situation that this book was created for. Single page explanations of tremendous abstracts, such as ‘The limits of planning’ and ‘absolute beginners’, Kees Dorst breaks up this text into several hierarchical sections on general design.

    Not a book that will immediately tell you how you should progress in specific situations, but a book that will give you a general guide about how to approach design in a multitude of situations. Extremely informative, and I would say a must-have, if you are a novice designer of any of the allied designed fields. And it doesn’t take long to get your money’s worth from it.

  2. Common Ground in a Liquid City

    Title Common Ground in a Liquid City

    Author Matt Hern

    ISBN 978-184935010-5

    Review

    Read through this text while I was in Fort Collins, CO last summer at my grandparents and I was insanely surprised about how thoroughly this text exposed urban problems that aren’t thought about to a great depth, as well balancing the conversation with what is done well and where. A great example of this type of urban breakdown, except not as thorough and at a different academic level, is Bicycle Diaries by David Byne, which is also supremely worth reading.

    Matt Hern, PhD (Urban Studies) puts out a genuine dissection of the urban workings of Vancouver, Istanbul, Thessaloniki (previously posted about), Montreal, Fort Good Hope, Las Vegas, Portland, New York, Diyarbakir in Kurdistan, and Kaunakakai in Moloka’i. A single word description would ‘convincing’, while another would be ‘manifesto’. 

    If you are working on an urban design project, this has a great voice for exposing a more down-to-earth perception of city than most architects’ texts. If you aren’t, you can learn how to contradict popular opinion by claiming that Portland is, in fact, not a perfect model of the contemporary city as its social implications are large.

  3. Title
Between Sea and City
Author
Sabine Lebesque
ISBN
90-5662-036-6
Review
A collection of 8 pier designs in Thessaloniki during the 1990s, Between Sea and City contains both the designs and explanations from Van Eyck, Siza, Coop Himmelb(l)au, my favorite Koolhaas, Mario Botta, Finn Geipel, Enric Miralles, and De Carlo. 
The material is dated by age, yes, but looking past some of the presentation conventions that were intentionally left in the past century, this is a phenomenal text for pier design examples. The level of differentiation between the projects is superb and the explanations are in character for each. 
Overall the book, its content, and the piers are all well designed, so give it a look.
    High Res

    Title

    Between Sea and City

    Author

    Sabine Lebesque

    ISBN

    90-5662-036-6

    Review

    A collection of 8 pier designs in Thessaloniki during the 1990s, Between Sea and City contains both the designs and explanations from Van Eyck, Siza, Coop Himmelb(l)au, my favorite Koolhaas, Mario Botta, Finn Geipel, Enric Miralles, and De Carlo. 

    The material is dated by age, yes, but looking past some of the presentation conventions that were intentionally left in the past century, this is a phenomenal text for pier design examples. The level of differentiation between the projects is superb and the explanations are in character for each. 

    Overall the book, its content, and the piers are all well designed, so give it a look.

  4. Title
Rem Koolhaas
Author
Rem Koolhaas
ISBN
1-885254-00-8
Review
Anyone who is already a fan of Koolhaas’ readings and not read Delirious New York is seriously missing a crucial item of the collection. This book is incredibly helpful with the getting the sense (or Koolhaas’ sense) of New York City. It describes the evolution of New York through its beginning, with an exciting and sexually expressive chapter on Coney Island. 
It will expand your theoretical and architectural knowledge, it will be as page-turning as any crime novel, and it will help you seem pretentious at parties. It’s really got it all.
    High Res

    Title

    Rem Koolhaas

    Author

    Rem Koolhaas

    ISBN

    1-885254-00-8

    Review

    Anyone who is already a fan of Koolhaas’ readings and not read Delirious New York is seriously missing a crucial item of the collection. This book is incredibly helpful with the getting the sense (or Koolhaas’ sense) of New York City. It describes the evolution of New York through its beginning, with an exciting and sexually expressive chapter on Coney Island. 

    It will expand your theoretical and architectural knowledge, it will be as page-turning as any crime novel, and it will help you seem pretentious at parties. It’s really got it all.

  5. Title
A Conversation with Frei Otto
Author
Juan Maria Songel
IBSN
978-1-56898-844-9
Review
Definitely find this one to read. The book is set as an interview and covers Otto’s structural experiments, architectural correspondences, and speculations on his own projects. There is an included essay Fundamentals of Future Architecture that Otto published in 1997, but the most interesting portions come from his retelling of experiences with Nervi, Fuller, and the rest of the giants. 
This book is worth reading for entertainment value, but very applicable in the ways that it exposes the design thought of one of the more powerful thinking architects of the 20th century.
    High Res

    Title

    A Conversation with Frei Otto

    Author

    Juan Maria Songel

    IBSN

    978-1-56898-844-9

    Review

    Definitely find this one to read. The book is set as an interview and covers Otto’s structural experiments, architectural correspondences, and speculations on his own projects. There is an included essay Fundamentals of Future Architecture that Otto published in 1997, but the most interesting portions come from his retelling of experiences with Nervi, Fuller, and the rest of the giants. 

    This book is worth reading for entertainment value, but very applicable in the ways that it exposes the design thought of one of the more powerful thinking architects of the 20th century.

  6. The Poetics of a Wall Projection

    Title: The Poetics of a Wall Projection

    Author: Jan Turnovsky

    ISBN#: 1902902688

    Description: (cover) - Originally published in German in 1985, The Poetics of a Wall Projetion is a translation by the American scholar Kent Kleinman of Jan Turnovsky’s knowingly idiosyncratic study of the Stonborough House, designed and built by the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein in Vienna in the 1920s. The precision of Turnovsky’s text mirrors the building that serves as his subject and offers a rare, now almost extinct, contemporary form of architectural history based upon an intensely close reading of a single building, and specifically an intricate compositional analysis of that building’s floor plan.

    Why Its Worth Reading: Past its first description on the cover, what would at first glance seem to be a rather dry read on the subject of the Wittgenstein House is an incredibly informative dialogue between Turnovsky and the design anxiety of Wittgenstein’s process. This book intricately follows the pursuit of pure geometry and the lengths through which we have all searched for solutions to architectural problems that we create ourselves.

    I picked up this book in The Winding Stair bookshop in Dublin while studying abroad and it turned out to be one of the most exciting books I picked up while over seas. It helped a great deal in untying the frustration that we all experience and aided me personally in how I pursue the design process. This book is one of the best, so go out there and read it.

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