Greg Lynn

Architect; Product/Industrial Designer / United States / Greg Lynn FORM; Greg Lynn YACHT & Co; University of Applied Arts, Vienna; UCLA; Yale University

Greg Lynn’s Book List

Reflecting on my book list, I realize that I have a penchant for books from the late 19th century and then again from the late 20th century. This includes everything from the natural sciences, to novels, to philosophy. I can only suppose that my interests in typology, geometry, order, and form tied together many of these topics from the 1870s and once again from the 1970s. It’s very curious how much one learns about oneself and the world by selecting a couple of dozen tomes from one’s library.

17 books
Jules Verne

I remember buying this as a teenager after having read all the Tolkien and C.S. Lewis stories. Many sketches and doodles came from that experience. These are great books to get you drawing gizmos and contraptions.

Jacques Derrida

As was Public Enemy to the hip hop that followed, so, too, was Derrida’s formulation of the “anexact yet rigorous” to the detached signification of deconstruction that followed. Derrida’s first published work was the first and last time that I have ever enjoyed a text about geometry and philosophy simultaneously. I am as interested in this book today as I was the first day I read it as an undergraduate student.

This book, like several of the AA publications under Alvin Boyarsky, showed many of us what an architectural intellectual project could be and what form it could take as a publication. A scholarly document comprised primarily of drawings was a revelation. These days are bygone since the era of books in which paintings, drawings, models, and photographs play an intellectual role (such as Delirious New York, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture and A Pattern Language, to name a few) presently seems to be extinct.

Brian Goodwin

When the physicists and developmental biologists were all using the same computer software as the architects during the mid-1990s I remember being fueled by books like this that came from the almost mythical Santa Fe Institute. This one might be the latest, greatest, and most popular of that period.

Kōbō Abe

Peter Eisenman recommended that I read Abe’s The Box Man and The Ruined Map while I was working in his office. I was in fact working on layering maps and shifting boxes so in title they were appropriate manuals in addition to their value as literature. Thanks to Peter, I discovered Inter Ice Age 4 and this, along with Ballard’s The Thousand Dreams of Stellavista, was the inspiration for me to later write the text “A New Style of Life,” imagining a few minutes waking up in one of the Embryological Houses. Growing up watching Ultraman, Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot, The War of the Gargantuas, and Godzilla, I suppose I still have an appetite for post-nuclear, ecological-disaster, natural-mutation, urban-destruction novels.

Paul West

After discovering Paul West’s Rat Man of Paris, I then read Lord Byron’s Doctor and continued to read serially through most if not all of West’s novels, stopping with The Place in Flowers, Where Pollen Rests and Terrestrials. It is very hard to select a single most important Paul West novel but Lord Byron's Doctor combines vivid descriptions of urban Paris with biology, literature, eroticism, and psychology. I enjoy reading West for the linguistic pleasure I take from his prose; he writes so well that it inspires me to write.

William Bateson

This 1894 classic was a life changer for me. While browsing through the card catalogue at the University of Illinois at Chicago where I was teaching for the first time in my life, I found this book and grabbed it only because of the title. William Bateson coined the term “symmetry breaking” and developed “Bateson’s Rule” of symmetry as a critique of Darwinian random growth. Bateson’s definition of “generic” is a highlight for me.  The book was an escape route for me in regard to Colin Rowe and Rudolf Wittkower’s reductive formalism and it was a bridge to Derrida’s work on Edmund Husserl. And the author is Gregory Bateson’s father!

Colin Rowe

Coincidental follow-up to Jacques Derrida’s reconfiguration of Edmund Husserl that I happened upon while working for Peter Eisenman and read out of curiosity and guilt as it seemed biblical by reputation around the office. Once read, it took on biblical status for me as well.  Along with Derrida’s Edmund Husserl's “Origin of Geometry”: An Introduction, this book helped me to avoid the intellectual morass of Heideggerianism that was running rampant around the East Coast and Continental Europe in the late 1980s. 

Sigfried Giedion

The granddaddy of Reyner Banham’s work, in my opinion.

Herman Melville

I first read this book when I was 14 years old while a volunteer first mate on a concrete sailboat in Lake Erie taking at-risk teens offshore for three to five days at a time. Everything about that summer was a bad idea except reading Moby Dick. Later, it was required reading during my first year of college at Miami University of Ohio and I have read it over and over since. More than a decade ago I splurged and bought the Arion Press edition and read it to my children as babies to help them fall asleep.

Gregory Bateson

Cybernetic theories roam around all kinds of topics in a short collected essay format.

Thorstein Veblen

I would recommend this to the conspicuous consumers, including those looking to get their palaces Platinum LEED Status certified.

Luce Irigaray

The chapter “The Mechanics of Fluids” imbricates philosophy, physics, mathematics, culture, and politics all in one plexus.

Gilles Deleuze
Félix Guattari

This book and Moby Dick are the only two I can read cover to cover over and over.

J. G. Ballard

I bought this secondhand only because the title is the namesake of the town in Ohio where I was raised. It was my introduction to Ballard and the inspiration for my Embryological House. 

Georges Bataille

From the essay “L’informe“ (Formless): “… for academic men to be happy, the universe would have to take shape. All of philosophy has no other goal: it is a matter of giving a frock coat to what is, a mathematical frock coat.”

Michael Feher Editor
Sanford Kwinter Editor

Sanford Kwinter, Jonathan Crary, and Bruce Mau started the mega-book loaded with tangents and insights. Many architects, Rem Koolhaas in particular, were inspired by the format and methodology.

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