Phyllis Lambert

Critic; Curator; Academic; Editor; Lecturer; Executive / Architecture; Urban Design/Urban Planning / Canada / Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA)

10 Books on Buildings, Cities, and Landscapes

The following books have always been with me. Every architect might well read them now, but timing was significant in the evolution of my work. The point is that young architects, architects tout court, must be deeply and widely engaged in reading—asking essential questions.

My reading is concerned with the interaction between building and landscape, and the social context writ large. This is true as well for the novels I list below, for which the quality of language also weighs strongly, as does the quality of form in the built world.

2 books
T. S. Eliot

The avant-la-lettre postmodernism of Thomas Stearns Eliot, resurgent in the discourse of the art and discipline of architecture, continues in books I am currently reading, such as the work of Anne Carson—Grief Lessons, Eros the Bittersweet, Antigonick, Autobiography of Red: A Novel in Verse. This, in turn, connects to my readings in Greek literature—I have been studying and photographing ancient Greek sites and landscape for over 20 years in the Aegean and Mediterranean.

Walt Whitman

Various forms of literature, including poetry, have obsessed me. As a child I loved the force of ideas and language in Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. I learned about Whitman from books on the sculptor Jacob Epstein. As a child, I asked for and received books on sculptors, especially the beautiful letterpress editions produced by Phaidon Press at that time.

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