Book List of the Week

The Books That Inspire Four Architecture School Deans

Books recommended by Deborah Berke, Mohsen Mostafavi, Kent Kleinman, and Alan Balfour

August 31, 2016

Back to school in September? Here are four “dean’s lists” of books selected by Deborah Berke, Yale School of Architecture’s dean; Mohsen Mostafavi, who headed Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design through Spring 2019; Kent Kleinman, former dean of Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning (now provost of the Rhode Island School of Design); and Alan Balfour, former dean of the College of Architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology. (Updated September 4, 2019.)

Selections from Mohsen Mostafavi’s book list for Designers & Books. Photo: Justin Knight
Deborah Berke's Book List

I have always loved books—books of all kinds. I like reading books, I like being in rooms where there are books, I get inspiration from books, I like giving books as gifts, I like having a book with me.

My list is an eclectic one of books I have enjoyed and books I have learned from. I always have a large pile of books—fiction and nonfiction, books with images and books without, poetry, plays, collections and surveys, essays—on my nightstand, and always a book in my bag.

Mohsen Mostafavi's Book List

How does one compile a short list of personally meaningful books? One way is to surrender to an almost unconscious process of simply picking the first titles that come to mind, but that method tends to skew the collection toward volumes most recently read. Instead, I have attempted to filter the selection to highlight titles that have been both inspiring and in some way formative to me as a designer and a teacher. Many of the books so chosen reflect my sense of intellectual affiliation with admired authors as much as an appreciation of specific content.

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.

Alan Balfour's Book List

This list is made up of three parts: first, books that have touched me in the last year or so, most related to supporting and stimulating my own writing; second, writers whose imaginations I can enter, whose books I can get lost within; and third, books that I often return to and continue to value.

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