Galia Solomonoff

Architect / United States / Solomonoff Architecture Studio; Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University

Galia Solomonoff’s Book List

In 1975, my parents burned a significant and dear part of our library as Isabel Perón signed a number of decrees empowering the military to “annihilate” the Argentine left. It was a Sunday morning in winter. We were at our suburban house on the Paraná River and I was seven. I passed books to my father in silence; we did a barbecue to cover up the burning of the books. I passed an annotated volume of Charles Fourier—I don’t remember the title, but I remember it was red, leather-bound, and about 4 x 7 inches.

The respect for books has been with me ever since. The sense that books can change the world, unite people and make us better. The sense that knowledge is power and that somewhere in the world right now someone is being attacked for what they read or think.

The list of books below is eclectic. Some of these books have marked my thinking, and others have taken me to another time and place.

10 books
Niall Ferguson

This book offers a concise history of money and economic structures, from ancient Mesopotamia to the subprime mortgage crisis, and links all nations and narratives with a balanced amount of detailed financial information and history.

Rem Koolhaas

This book offers an idiosyncratic account of disparate events that connect the city of New York. What amazes me is that it is such an easy read and still feels fresh as I review it now so many years after my first time reading it.

Bernard Tschumi

Before embracing digital architecture, Tschumi developed an intense relationship with film, and throughout this book, frame by frame, drawing by drawing, an obscure narrative emerges. This book has so much personality; it is so austere and yet so beautiful.

Various authors; transcript of conference at the University of Virginia, November 12–13, 1982 Transcript of Conference at the University of Virginia, November 12 and 13, 1982

A must read for anyone considering a life in architecture or wondering what they mean by “the boys’ club.” In about 200 pages one gets a lightly edited version of a juicy closed-doors two-day crit with Philip Johnson, Léon Krier, Robert Stern, Toyo Ito, Rafael Moneo, Paul Rudolph, Frank Gehry, Rem Koolhaas, Richard Meier, and Peter Eisenman among others. In this 27-men-only caucus, they take turns freely discussing their work, using words such as “postmodernism,” “pastiche,” “schizophrenic,” and bitch.” It is a fun reminder of how much things have changed and how much good there still is to do.

John Steinbeck

The sense of the beginning of the 20th century and the American shift from east to west, the bond between men, father, sons, servants, friends, and principally brothers. I love how intricate the dialogues among these male characters are, especially between Samuel Hamilton and Lee, knowledgeable immigrants who unite beyond class or race through books and dignified speech.

I don’t have my copy of Pamphlet Architecture 7 (“Bridge of Houses”), but any time I can browse through a library, I go to it. I love the drawings, the clear sense of the High Line as envisioned by Steven in the 1980s before it was anyone’s dream! I love the modesty of this book, how true it is!

Felicity Scott

This is a methodical and complete account of a moment that happened once and then quickly disappeared. When I look at this book, I smile thinking about how much fun Ant Farm’s approach was and wondering where utopia and play find their places in architecture right now.

Naomi Klein

From Iraq to tsunamis to Katrina, Naomi Klein explains the predatory advance of entities such as Blackwater and Halliburton and how infrastructure disaster relief has shifted from humanitarian and national efforts to private and for-profit groups. She traces the ascent of Milton Friedman and the Chicago School of Economics free market team and how this progressively leads to an extreme form of capitalism.

Patti Smith

A painful and lovingly written story about young creative talent struggling to survive in New York and making it! It makes me pause every time I see a twenty-something counting change to pay for anything. Most of the narrative happens in Chelsea in the 1980s. Where was the drug-ridden Alberton Hotel? I must find out…

Gilles Deleuze
Félix Guattari

Fabian, my husband, bought this book in 1988, on a trip back to Argentina. I remember reading Anti-Oedipus (volume 1 of Capitalism and Schizophrenia, 1972) numerous times together—and this is the book that I envision fighting over if we ever consider divorce!

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