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
Giovanna Borasi Editor

Journeys (referring to both the book and the exhibition that it accompanied, produced by the CCA in 2010) questions issues raised by increased global movement. What is the cultural significance of a border today? How does the drawing of a map change the reality on the ground? How do different cultural approaches to the use of public space define a city? Do we need to preserve our regional or national landscape, or can we accept and incorporate changes brought from other parts of the world?

James S. Ackerman

James Ackerman’s Palladio, and Joseph Rykwert’s The Idea of a Town: the Anthropology of Urban Form in Rome, Italy and the Ancient World, were revolutionary when written and exciting for me, in their consideration of the contexts of buildings and city. Ackerman looks beyond buildings to the larger environment of history, society, landscape, and the city; Rykwert looks beyond the instrumental to myth and ritual that shape and even create the man-made environment. When architectural history was mostly concerned, like art history, with connoisseurship, reading Ackerman’s Palladio was a huge relief to me in 1974 when it was first published, confirming my own interest on architecture in the city.

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