10 Best Architecture Books | March 2017

We spent 33 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. For anyone studying or working in architecture, something from our selection of architecture books would make either essential reading or a perfect gift. But given that many of the buildings included in these editions are so stunning that they could be considered works of art, anyone who simply appreciates the form would enjoy the images and detailed information. Skip to the best architecture book on Amazon.
10 Best Architecture Books | March 2017


Overall Rank: 5
Best Mid-Range
★★★
Overall Rank: 1
Best High-End
★★★★★
Overall Rank: 6
Best Inexpensive
★★★
10
Architecture: A World History is condensed to give you a brief look at every significant architectural movement from pre-history and antiquity up until modern day buildings. It is wonderfully illustrated with 600 stunning examples of architecture at its finest.
9
The Architecture Reference is small enough to be kept in your bag, so you can pull it out when needed, making it great for students who need a little reminder now and then. It contains thousands of pages of details, but distills the data so it is easy to read.
8
The Story of Buildings is a great choice to get kids interested in architecture. It has a unique format with detailed illustrations that take us inside famous buildings to see how they go together, and each chapter begins with a historical overview of the time period.
7
Latin America in Construction is a visual feast for those interested in the design aspects and motivation behind buildings from Mexico to Cuba between 1955 and 1980. It has a large number of full-page, high resolution photos along with pre-construction sketches.
  • contains a wealth of original material
  • includes cool vintage photos
  • doesn't have a lot of written content
Brand Bergdoll, Barry (EDT)/
Model pending
Weight 4.9 pounds
6
101 Things I Learned in Architecture School is a smart book for architecture students to keep as a handy reference guide to designing and drawing. It is written by an architect instructor and expresses concepts in a clear and simple way.
  • a good primer in architectural literacy
  • utilizes a unique two-page format
  • the ebook has a poor layout
Brand The MIT Press
Model pending
Weight 13.6 ounces
5
Sketching for Architecture has forty-five step-by-step exercises that will help students and those interested in architecture improve their skills. It starts with simple three-dimensional forms and builds to complex building exteriors and cityscapes.
  • covers a range of technical topics
  • all exercises are illustrated
  • makes a great practical guide
Brand Sketching for Architect
Model pending
Weight 14.4 ounces
4
Hide and Seek is a unique look at hidden hideouts and stunning cabin retreats located in beautiful natural settings. It has a focus on simple, yet elegant, rustic designs that will inspire you to build your very own hideaway and leave the hustle and bustle of city life.
  • shows how to wisely use a small space
  • impressive style melding designs
  • expensive and innovative cabins
Brand Hide and Seek
Model pending
Weight 3.8 pounds
3
In Midcentury Houses Today, the authors carefully selected a group of 16 houses to examine what represented the culture of home building between the 1950s and 1978. Each one is portrayed in great detail with floor plans and multiple photos.
  • the book has a beautiful layout
  • has owner comments about the homes
  • makes a good coffee table book
Brand Midcentury Houses Today
Model pending
Weight 3.7 pounds
2
Seeking New York is all about the architecture of Manhattan and traces its history one building at a time. It is the perfect gift for anybody who loves architecture or New York, and it is conveniently divided by neighborhoods for ease of reading.
  • includes details alongside the photos
  • shows buildings that no longer stand
  • includes stories attached to buildings
Brand Universe
Model pending
Weight 16 ounces
1
Living Architecture is a collection of more than 130 images of America's most iconic 20th century homes, from Italian Renaissance inspired Miami villas to cutting edge dwellings. It also features many works that blur the lines between dwellings and art.
  • an excellent visual guide
  • for industry professionals and hobbyists
  • many unknown, but stunning works
Brand Browning, Dominique/ Gi
Model pending
Weight 4.9 pounds

The Architecture Book: Architecture as Art and Literature

Architecture is an almost universally fascinating subject. One needs no understanding for the actual function of a flying buttress to remark on its striking shape; one need not know a Gothic arch from a basic post-and-lintel to appreciate the amazing advances human beings have achieved in the design and construction of edifices in the few thousand years from which we have extant structures. In the grand scheme of history, the journey from Stonehenge to Notre Dame to the Sydney Opera House has been a diminutive span indeed.

While obtaining a deep understanding of architecture is essentially impossible without the completion of years of schooling and advanced degrees followed by plentiful professional plying of the trade, anyone with an interest in buildings as engineering marvels, as works of great beauty, and/or as testaments to a period in history can enjoy reading up on the subject, provided he or she finds the right book.

There are three primary lenses through which the layman can appreciate architecture. The first of these is to see the technical prowess -- the mathematics and engineering -- behind the design; the second approach is to appreciate great architecture for its inherent aesthetic value, seeing a home or building as a work of art; third, one can study the history and development of architecture through time, examining both the effect that the ages had on structures and how certain significant buildings had an impact on the course of history. (Many structures fall into all three categories, with a Roman aqueduct or the Golden Gate Bridge serving as two examples separated by two millennia.)

Many people will of course be able to appreciate more than one of these aspects of architecture, but identifying which focus will most appeal to you (or the recipient of an architecture book as a gift, as applicable) will make your search for the right architecture book easier and more fruitful. Even within each category, you will still have to look about a bit to find that one perfect tome.

In the technical realm, for example, on can find books dedicated to the process of drawing (or sketching) plans for a project or books that are packed with references that provide actual information useful for the working architect or the student. The aesthetic appreciator could spend days studying famous homes, churches, skyscrapers, and so forth -- few books will do justice to beautiful buildings of all stripes, so try to pick a niche (residences of the 20th century, e.g.) and occupy it fully. And for the lover of the history of architecture, some survey-style books can be found that review building throughout the ages, but better still may be a volume dedicated to some distinct era, be it as specific as Midcentury American designs or the Italian Renaissance at large.

The Broad Strokes: Architecture Briefly Defined

The word Architecture is primarily used to define one of two things. First is simply the buildings of a given time, space, or style at large. One might hear a remark such as: "The architecture of the Soviets was bland and cold, designed to be functional without care for beauty" or "The architecture of New York City reaches skyward both due to the confines of Manhattan and the audacity of the American spirit."

Architecture can also refer to the process of designing a given structure; to the mathematics, engineering, and artful considerations that one or more trained and proficient architects must weigh when designing a building.

Few endeavors merge the artistic and technical worlds in the same was as architecture. To be a "success," a building must be both aesthetically pleasing and logistically functional. The architect must fit every element a home or building needs -- from staircases to bathrooms to space for wiring and ducts to roofs that properly shed rain or bare snow loads -- into a form that also pleases the eye from without and allows for comfortable, productive existence within. Witness the glorious brick duomo of Florentine cathedral -- the largest brick dome in the world -- designed by Brunelleschi in the middle of the 15th century as a crowning example of engineering and artistry working together. More modest examples include simply a well-designed single-family residence with a floor plan conducive to convenience and comfort.

Architecture is so challenging an undertaking because its proper execution requires a working knowledge of so many factors, from the properties of building materials to zoning regulations to the effects of weather and temperature on a structure to the management of a budget. There are, simply put, so many ways for an architect to fail in his or her endeavors. But a great architectural success often stands the test of time.

A Few Recent Architects You Must Know

If there's any chance the subject of architecture might come up at an imminent dinner party, client dinner, or on a date, you will be well-served to know at least a thing or two about as few of the world's most renowned recent architects. Having at least a cursory knowledge of the work of these three men should at least help you design a conversational scaffold on which you can climb to other topic.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is most often known simple as Mies (pronounced Meese). This German-born American architect worked for many decades during the 1900s, creating both some of the most iconic homes and buildings of 20th century America. These include skyscrapers like Chicago's IBM Plaza and modernist private residences such as the famed Farnsworth House. Few architects could bring such grace to towering edifices and one-floor, one-room retreats alike.

Frank Lloyd Wright lived from 1867 to 1959, and during his nine decades of life, he created some of the most striking homes the world has ever seen. Wright's long career spanned multiple major architectural movements, including the so-called Prairie Style, the Craftsman school, Japanese-influenced designs, and decidedly modern structures, such as the iconic residence Falling Water, a home built directly over a natural waterfall. While Lloyd's personal life was a series of divorces, distance from his children, rumor and gossip, his prowess as an artistic architect was never in doubt; Wright was already designing full homes well before his 25th birthday.

Frank Gehry is considered by many to be the greatest living, working architect. A master of lyrical, undulating edifices often wrapped in shimmering metals, he has redefined the bounds of materials and form many times over. Look no further than the celebrated Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles or the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao to see his work in its both modern and timeless glory.



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Last updated: 03/28/2017 | Authorship Information

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