Mohsen Mostafavi

Designer; Educator / Architecture / United States / Graduate School of Design, Harvard University

An Intellectual Affiliation: 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.

17 books
Dalibor Vesely

Vesely is one the most influential teachers of architecture in the U.K. Originally from Prague, he is well versed in philosophy and art history. This book is the summation of years of research and thinking on creativity and its role within contemporary architectural practice. I feel fortunate to have both studied and taught with him.

Ulrich Conrads

Conrads’s little encyclopedia provides one of the best introductions to some of the most critical ideas in architecture during the iconic period of 20th-century modernism.

Frank Kermode

An amazing critique of the English language explaining the parameters that constitute a classic work of literature—but equally important for the parallels between writing and architecture.

Alan Colquhoun

There is little genuine architectural criticism today. Colquhoun's writing is a wonderful, precise, and clear example of the genre.

Robin Evans

Evans had an amazing mind and saw architectural ideas like no other. His writing has a lightness of touch that invariably makes the past vital for the present. I am glad that I had the opportunity to initiate putting these essays together.

Cedric Price

One of the last of the old-fashioned variety of “British Gentleman.” Price's architectural speculations and realized projects are still radical today. He was an inspiration for me, but more importantly to a generation of architects that includes Archigram, Foster, Rogers, Grimshaw, and Koolhaas, to name just a few.

Reyner Banham

Reyner (Pete) Banham was a genius in selecting topics of study well ahead of his time. This is one of the first and still one of the best books on the technologies of the building envelope and their consequences.

W. G. Sebald

Sebald had a major presence in the field of literature and died tragically early in a car crash. He lived in England as an academic but wrote in German. The book is a beautiful exposition of memory and the sense of feeling an outsider.

Aldo Rossi

This is one of the most concise reflections on the relationship between architecture and the city. Rossi brings together his knowledge of history, sociology, and geography to enhance our urban imagination.

James S. Ackerman

Undoubtedly one of the most preeminent historians of architecture, Ackerman is still going strong, here unraveling the work of one of the greatest architects ever. I feel lucky to know James Ackerman as a friend.

Giorgio Agamben

Three very short essays on Foucault's notion of the apparatus, on friendship, and on what it means to be contemporary. All three themes are of utmost relevance to designers.

John Summerson

I was lucky enough to have met Summerson. This book is indispensable as a history of an important period in the development of London as well as for the study of architectural form and its social repercussions.

Manfredo Tafuri

Tafuri was as adept at architectural and urban history as he was with the architecture of the recent past. This small volume—a manifesto of sorts—demonstrates the power of the ideas of the author as much as it does of the architecture that is the subject of its analysis.

Rem Koolhaas

Apart from all its other attributes, one of the best books on the idea of the city as an architectural section.

Félix Guattari

One of the first and most inspiring philosophical arguments in support of ecological practices.

Joseph Rykwert

A collection of essays on a wide-ranging set of themes bringing architecture and design under the same umbrella, demonstrating Rykwert's extraordinary range and originality.

Nicolai Gogol

Gogol's writing is a must for all architects. It tells us as much about alternative ways of seeing the world as it does of our relationship to others.

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