It is hard to choose a favorite among Gould’s witty elucidations on evolution. This one includes a fabulous analogy of “excellence” as found in baseball. It also includes an incredible analysis of statistics as opposed to statistical analysis.
Out of print, but not out of mind, this book includes many great photographs, drawings, sketches, and essays. It is almost a documentary in its full sense of what it must have been like to work with the Italian-Brazilian modernist architect. Embodying the art, people, and life in her work, the book gives proper space to Bo Bardi’s architecture and its tropical vibrancy.
Using the lens of art and literature, this book illuminates the conflicted identity of America as a pastoral utopia versus an industrial giant. While literary criticism is often left behind after grad school, Marx’s book—through its astute and useful observations based on centuries of serious writing—has maintained a very long shelf life for me.
This book skillfully uncovers the contributions of Gray, a modernist Irish designer and architect who worked in Paris in the early 20th century. It reveals the story of her life as well as her connection with Le Corbusier, who is said to have coveted the house she designed for herself and Jean Badovici in the south of France.
A pre-Christian Irish epic about the events leading up to a great battle that depicts heroism, love and war, greed and deceit, and, of course, life and death. Ordinary experiences flow together with extraordinary mythical feats. The Kinsella translation is accompanied by the drawings of Louis Le Brocquy.
The power of keen observation of natural phenomena informs this influential book, which stresses the ways in which structure and mechanics play a role in how living things find their form. What structure junky could resist discussions of spherical tetrahedrons, soap bubbles, or the delicate skeletal patterns found in radiolaria? Even though the science behind it has since been updated, Thompson’s book remains full of wonders.
Descriptions, hand-drawn illustrations, and photographs animate this book on the ways animals and insects construct their shelters—some of which turn out to be climate-specific and cleverly sited, while others seem more decorative and superfluous, labored over solely in order to attract a mate. By extension, the book offers fascinating clues for designing environmentally friendly shelters for we humanoid bipeds.
A book that allows you to see how the architecture and urbanism of Koolhaas and OMA continue to pursue the “culture of congestion” written about here. It demonstrates that a thesis constructed as an interesting question—in this case, “if Manhattan had a manifesto, what would it be?”—is far more engaging than one that proves a much-deliberated point. Witty and enjoyable to read, it has little in common with the dry majority of contemporary theory.
The book that laid the groundwork for understanding the ethical dimensions of our modern relationship to the natural environment. In one poetic chapter, the author must cut down an old oak that has been struck by lightning. As he cuts, he recounts eras of landscape history, moving backward through time as he saws through the growth rings of the tree.
To this day, Design With Climate remains one of the clearest volumes on how to design “with,” rather than “against,” climate. Though our tools for understanding air movement and solar shading have now become more sophisticated, the brevity and precision in Olgyay’s simple, black-and-white diagrams make this a great resource for those interested in designing with climate in mind.
A finely crafted argument making a case for natural selection and evolution that also lays out the difficulties with the theory. It is fascinating to get a sense of Darwin’s struggles at the points where there are missing pieces to the puzzle.