Michael Manfredi

Architect / United States / WEISS/MANFREDI Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism

Michael Manfredi’s Book List

How to compile a list of meaningful books? Where to start? The following is a very partial list of books that have been formative to me as an architect, designer, and teacher. It’s an eclectic list. These are books that I revisit often and that, in effect, continue to be my valued friends, mentors, provocateurs, and sources of inspiration.

12 books
Ian McHarg

McHarg introduced the importance of ecological planning—in the late 1960s a novel and little understood imperative. Given to me as a young architecture student, this book opened up a series of lateral worlds: landscape, ecology—and with that, the promise of a more synthetic approach to design.

Marcella Hazan

As an architect who likes to cook, I can think of few cookbooks that are so “architectural.” Hazan both illuminates the process of making and contextualizes the territory of a particular dish.

Simon Schama

Schama’s book focuses on the relationships between real environments and mythical ones, arguing that together real landscapes and the landscapes of the mind constitute that elusive and subjective definition of what we call “Nature.”

Willy Boesiger Editor

I always return to this set of volumes with a mixture of humility and admiration. The work is still fresh and always inspiring.

E. H. (Ernst) Gombrich

Given to me as a young adult, this is a book I still return to. Gombrich, one of this century’s great intellectuals, brings history to life in an intelligent and conversational style. It is really a children’s book written for adults.

Colin Rowe

I studied with Colin Rowe and always suggest that my students read this book. Together, these trans-historical essays constitute a radical argument: that we consider history imaginatively as something alive and present. I can’t think of a more eloquent reminder that architecture is first and foremost about an intellectual and cultural history.

Flora Oddone Editor
Teresita Oddone Editor

One of my first books. Growing up in Italy and reading this book inspired me with tales of surreal and fantastic places—architectures where the real and the imagined converge.

Marcel Proust

Proust’s complex and very long quasi-novel has incomparable high points. His description of the nexus of circumstance, emotion, and place—the sheer poetry of everyday existence—is sublime.

Paolo Portoghesi

Works by Bernini, Borromini, Fontana, and da Cortona are presented against the backdrop of Rome as an emerging global city. It is a lushly illustrated and graphically compelling reminder of the fruitful interchange between great architecture and its urban setting.

Italo Calvino

Italo Calvino’s meditations on the values and attributes that make great literature: lightness, quickness, exactitude, visibility, multiplicity, and consistency. It is as relevant to architecture as it is to literature.

Vladimir Nabokov

Nabokov’s elliptical autobiography and beautiful exposition of memory. More than a conventional autobiography, it is a set of elegantly written recollections of events, of people, of spaces and places—it is at once dreamy and precise.

Stewart Brand

An expansive, eccentric, and systemic catalogue of ideas and tools that quickly became a cultural phenomenon. It reshaped how we see the world and its ecological challenges. References to sustainable design, experimental media, and technological innovations privileged, for the first time, the interconnectedness of things.

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