Holiday Gift Book Lists 2013

Architecture Books to Give as Gifts

Books for all the architecture lovers on your list

November 27, 2013


The first of our holiday gift guides offers a sampling of books published in 2013 selected with every architecture lover on your gift list in mind. Books range from how to draw like an architect, to surveys of great architectural accomplishments, to books on understanding how architects do what they do—and why.

Update: For 2014 recommendations, also see “Holiday Gift Ideas for Architecture Lovers” at the Designers & Books Online Book Fair—a great place to discover and buy (with some significant discounts) even more architecture books as well as those in other design disciplines.


Archidoodle Stephen Bowkett

From Laurence King. This innovative book provides a fun, interactive way to learn about architecture. Filled with an array of beautiful and elegant drawings, it poses all manner of architectural challenges for the user: from designing your own skyscraper to drawing an island house or creating a Constructivist monument, plus many more. Aimed at anyone who loves drawing buildings, it encourages the user to imagine their own creative solutions by sketching, drawing and painting in the pages of the book. In so doing, they will learn about a whole range of significant architectural issues, such as the importance of site and materials, how to furnish a space, how to read plans, how to create sustainable cities and so on.


The book also includes numerous examples of works and ideas by major architects to draw inspiration from and will appeal to everyone from children to students and professional architects.

From Archidoodle by Stephen Bowkett (2013, Laurence King Publishing)
Architecture on the Carpet Brenda Vale
Robert Vale

— Design writer Allison Arieff comments on Architecture on the Carpet:

“‘Explores everything from gender bias to class distinctions of construction toys and reading it made me wish even more that Lego would move away from promoting its meticulously directed kits and more toward less-programmed piles of bricks.”

Henri Labrouste Corinne Bélier Editor
Barry Bergdoll Editor
Marc le Coeur Editor

From The Museum of Modern Art. Henri Labrouste is one of the few 19th-century architects who have been lionized consistently as precursors of modern architecture throughout the 20th century and into our own time. The two magisterial glass-and-iron reading rooms Labrouste built in Paris from the 1840s through the 1860s gave form to the idea of the modern library as a great collective civic space, and his influence was immediate and long lasting on both the development of the modern library and the exploration of new paradigms of space, materials, and luminosity in places of public assembly. Published in conjunction with the first exhibition devoted to architect Henri Labrouste in the United States—and the first anywhere in the world in nearly 40 years—this lushly illustrated publication is the result of a four-year research project into the entirety of Labrouste’s production. It presents nearly 225 works in all media, including drawings, watercolors, vintage and modern photographs, film stills, and architectural models. Essays by a range of international architecture scholars explore Labrouste’s work and legacy through a variety of approaches, offering fresh historical perspectives on the architect and his structural innovations.

Read the Notable Book of 2013 review.

Henri Labrouste (French, 1801-1875). Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, 1854–1875. View of the reading room. Photo © Georges Fessy. From Henri Labrouste by Barry Bergdoll, et al. (2013, The Museum of Modern Art)
The Houses of Louis Kahn George H. Marcus
William Whitaker

From Yale University Press; #1 Design Best Seller at Van Alen Books, New York (November 2013). Richly illustrated with new and period photographs and original drawings, as well as previously unpublished materials from personal interviews, archives, and Kahn’s own writings, The Houses of Louis Kahn shows how the architect’s ideas about domestic spaces challenged conventions, much like his major public commissions, and were developed into one of the most remarkable expressions of the American house.

Read the Notable Book of 2013 review.

Margaret Esherick House, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, 1959–62. From southeast. From The Houses of Louis Kahn (2013, Yale University Press). Photo: 2008 © Matt Wargo
How Architecture Works Witold Rybczynski

From Farrar, Straus and Giroux; #1 Design Best Seller at Collected Works, Santa Fe, NM (November 2013). In How Architecture Works, Witold Rybczynski, one of our best, most stylish critics and winner of the Vincent Scully Prize for his architectural writing, answers our most fundamental questions about how good—and not-so-good—buildings are designed and constructed. Introducing the reader to the rich and varied world of modern architecture, he takes us behind the scenes, revealing how architects as different as Frank Gehry, Renzo Piano, and Robert A. M. Stern envision and create their designs. He teaches us how to “read” plans, how buildings respond to their settings, and how the smallest detail—of a stair balustrade, for instance—can convey an architect’s vision. Ranging widely from a war memorial in London to an opera house in St. Petersburg, from the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., to a famous architect’s private retreat in downtown Princeton, How Architecture Works, explains the central elements that make up good building design. It is an enlightening humanist’s toolkit for thinking about the built environment and seeing it afresh.

Also see our interview with Witold Rybczynski on How Architecture Works.
Read the Notable book of 2013 review.

Seji Ozawa Hall, Lenox Massachusetts, designed by William Rawn. Photo: Photo: Daderot. Licesnsed under the terns of the GNU Free Documentationt License, Version 1.2. From How Architecture Works by Witold Rybczynski (2013, Farrar, Straus and Giroux) 
Kabbalah in Art and Architecture Alexander Gorlin

From Pointed Leaf Press. The Kabbalistic idea of creation, as expressed through light, space, and geometry, has left its unmistakeable mark on our civilization. Drawing upon a wide array of historical materials and stunning images of contemporary art, sculpture, and architecture, architect Alexander Gorlin explores the influence, whether actually acknowledged or not, of the Kabbalah on modern design in his unprecedented book Kabbalah in Art and Architecture. Comprising ten chapters that each outline key concepts of the Kabbalah and its representations, both in historic diagrams and the modern built environment, Kabbalah in Art and Architecture puts forth an unparalleled and compelling reinterpretation of art and architecture through the lens of the Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism.

“Architects have been known to weep upon viewing the open courtyard of Louis Kahn’s 1965 Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California. A fountain of water issues from the cube of stone in the foreground, cuts through the court, and seamlessly joins the Pacific Ocean.” From Kabbalah in Art and Architecture by Alexander Gorlin (2013, Pointed Leaf Press)
Lina Bo Bardi Zeuler Rocha Mello de Almeida Lima
Foreword by Barry Bergdoll

From Yale University Press. Lina Bo Bardi (1914–1992), one of the most important architects working in Latin America in the 20th century, was remarkably prolific and intriguingly idiosyncratic. A participant in the efforts to reshape Italian culture in her youth, Bo Bardi immigrated to Brazil with her husband in 1946. In Brazil, her practice evolved within the social and cultural realities of her adopted country. While she continued to work with industrial materials like concrete and glass, she added popular building materials and naturalistic forms to her design palette, striving to create large, multiuse spaces that welcomed public life.

Lina Bo Bardi is the first comprehensive study of Bo Bardi’s career and showcases author Zeuler Lima’s extensive archival work in Italy and Brazil. The leading authority on Bo Bardi, Lima frames the architect’s activities on two continents and in five cities. The book examines how considerations of ethics, politics, and social inclusiveness influenced Bo Bardi’s intellectual engagement with modern architecture and provides an authoritative guide to her experimental, ephemeral, and iconic works of design.

Read the Notable Book of 2013 review.

Lina Bo and P.M. Bardi house in Morumbi, Sao Paulo, 1949–52. Interior view with dining room and internal patio in the foreground. From Lina Bo Bardi by Zeuler Rocha Mello de Almeida Lima (2013, Yale University Press). Photo: Nelson Kon
Paradise Planned Robert A. M. Stern
David Fishman
Jacob Tilove

# 1 Design Best Seller at Rizzoli Bookstore, New York (January 2014).

From The Monacelli Press. Paradise Planned: The Garden Suburb and the Modern City is the definitive history of the development of the garden suburb, a phenomenon that originated in England in the late 18th century, was quickly adopted in the United States and northern Europe, and gradually proliferated throughout the world. These bucolic settings offered an ideal lifestyle typically outside the city but accessible by streetcar, train, and automobile. Today, the principles of the garden city movement are once again in play, as retrofitting the suburbs has become a central issue in planning. Strategies are emerging that reflect the goals of garden suburbs in creating metropolitan communities that embrace both the intensity of the city and the tranquility of nature. Paradise Planned is the comprehensive, encyclopedic record of this movement, a vital contribution to architectural and planning history and an essential recourse for guiding the repair of the American townscape.

Port Sunlight, The Dell, England, begun 1880s. Photo: Laurence Scales. From Paradise Planned by Robert A.M. Stern, David Fishman, and Jacob Tilove (2013, The Monacelli Press)


PIN-UP Interviews PIN-UP
Text by Felix Burrichter

#1 Design Best Seller at Van Alen Books, New York (December 2013).

From powerHouse Books. PIN-UP Interviews is a compilation of over 50 of the most fascinating interviews from PIN-UP magazine since its first issue was published in October 2006. Serious, yet accessible, featuring the elegant and modern aesthetic PIN-UP’s readers have come to expect, there is no comparable source available for such a stunning array of contemporary design talent collected in one place. It is indispensable to all lovers of today’s brightest architectural and design ideas.

PIN-UP Interviews is the first book produced by PIN-UP, the award-winning, New York-based, biannual architecture and design magazine. Cheekily dubbing itself the “Magazine for Architectural Entertainment,” PIN-UP features interviews with architects, designers, and artists, and presents their work informally—as a fun assembly of ideas, stories, and conversations, all paired with cutting-edge photography and artwork. Both raw and glossy, this “cult design zine” (The New York Times) is a nimble mix of genres and themes, finding inspiration in the high and the low by casting a refreshingly playful eye on rare architectural gems, amazing interiors, smart design, and that fascinating area where those spheres connect with contemporary art.

Included in PIN-UP Interviews are the architects David Adjaye, Shigeru Ban, Ricardo Bofill, David Chipperfield, Zaha Hadid, Junya Ishigami, Rem Koolhaas, Peter Marino, Richard Meier, and Ettore Sottsass; artists Daniel Arsham, Cyprien Gaillard, Simon Fujiwara, Oscar Tuazon, Francesco Vezzoli, Boris Rebetez, Retna, Robert Wilson, and Andro Wekua; and designers Rafael de Cárdenas, Martino Gamper, Rick Owens, Hedi Slimane, Bethan Laura Wood, and Clémence Seilles.

Read the Notable Book of 2013 review.

Interview with Rem Koolhaas by Francesco Vezzoli. From PIN-UP Interviews (2013, powerHouse Books) 


Young Frank, Architect Frank Viva

From The Museum of Modern Art/Abrams. MoMA’s first storybook for kids follows the adventures of Young Frank, a resourceful young architect who lives in New York City with his grandfather, Old Frank, who is also an architect. Young Frank likes to use anything he can get his hands on—macaroni, old boxes, spoons, and sometimes even his dog, Eddie—to create wiggly chairs and twisting skyscrapers. But Old Frank doesn’t think that’s how REAL architects make things. One day they visit The Museum of Modern Art, and learn that architects can do more than either of them realized. Written by award-winning children’s author and illustrator Frank Viva, Young Frank, Architect is an inspiration for budding architects as well as those who think they’ve seen it all.


Spread from Young Frank, Architect, ©Frank Viva (2013, The Museum of Modern Art)
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