Books Every Designer Should Read

4 Lists of Books Every Architect Should Read

Barry Bergdoll, Paul Goldberger, Kent Kleinman, and Witold Rybczynski

September 23, 2013

Four eminent commentators on architecture—critics, authors, a dean, and a curator—give their opinions on the books that should be on every architect's reading list.

Barry Bergdoll's Book List

Long before I came to the conclusion that I wanted to study architectural history, I knew I wanted to collect books. Arranging my books in new classification systems in my room at home as a teenager on rainy days, I even imagined that being a librarian might be the best of all possible worlds. Ever since then I’ve had at least as many books I intend to read as books I have actually read.

Paul Goldberger's Book List

. . . The books every architect should read are the books that give you more than the information you can find in textbooks and dictionaries and style guides, useful (and even, on occasion, entertaining) as such books can be. The books I value most are the books that are personal, the books whose authors make you see things as you have never seen them before, the books whose prose strikes you as fresh no matter how many times you have read it before. . . . View the complete text

Kent Kleinman's Book List

I enjoy access to one of the finest collections of art and architecture books in the country at Cornell University. But there are books with which one forges a special bond, books that are not necessarily greatest hits but ones that become intellectual companions and need to be always within view and grasp. I have listed some of these: books I admire greatly, durable accomplishments in and around the subject of architecture, books that have informed my thinking and to which I return often.

Witold Rybczynski's Book List

The first architecture book I bought was Frank Lloyd Wright’s A Testament. That was in 1961, two years after the old man had died. I was 18 and in the second year of architecture school. I don’t know that I ever read the text straight through; it was Wright’s beautiful drawings that attracted me. That was the case with most of my architecture books, which were less for reading than for examining the plans and photographs.

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