Educator and architect William R. Ware 150 years ago expressed, “Architecture is indeed very much like literature, not only because it has the same curiously ambiguous character as language, being partly a matter of history, partly of natural history; half a natural product, half a product of human will; both being founded in the immemorial past and exhibiting in their development the same subtle influences of race and climate, similar laws of tradition and derivation, a constant resolution and recombination of elements, all controlled by aesthetic laws, which spring partly from the nature of things, partly from custom or caprice, – but also because, in an essential characteristic, architectural work is like literary work. Both writing and building range all the way from mere work of necessity, the satisfaction of every-day requirements, up to the pure expression of abstract sentiment, where the form, not the function, is all in all.”
It is essential that besides the prescribed textbooks, on every student’s bookshelf, there must be other architectural books which are highly commended by architects from around the world.
The top 10 Architecture Books every architecture student should have are:
- 1. Towards a New Architecture (also known as Vers une Architecture) by Le Corbusier
- 2. Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture by Robert Venturi
- 3. The Architecture of the City by Aldo Rossi
- 4. Delirious New York by Rem Koolhaas
- 5. Becoming an Architect: A Guide to Careers in Design by Lee W. Waldrep
- 6. The Possibility of an Absolute Architecture by Pier Vittorio Aureli
- 7. What is Architecture by Paul Shepheard
- 8. Theoretical Anxiety and Design Strategies by Rafael Moneo
- 9. Learning from Las Vegas by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown
- 10. Collage City by Colin Rowe and Fred Koetter
1. Towards a New Architecture (also known as Vers une Architecture) by Le Corbusier
This 1923 publication is highly regarded as a significant book on the topic of modern architecture. Le Corbusier lays the foundation and explains the principles which should influence and guide architecture.
Le Corbusier was born in Switzerland and later became a French citizen. He was an architect, designer, painter, urban planner, writer and one of the pioneers of modern architecture. Le Corbusier was awarded an honorary degree in 1959 by the University of Cambridge.
2. Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture by Robert Venturi
This book was published in 1966. Professor Vincent Scully lauded the book as “probably the most important writing on the making of architecture since Le Corbusier’s Vers une Architecture of 1923.”
3. The Architecture of the City by Aldo Rossi
This book reexamines the Modern Movement and was written during the commencement of the Italian student movement. Rossi considers the devastation and abandonment of the town, and highlights the importance and value of cities.
Aldo Rossi was an Italian architect and designer who miraculously achieved international fame in four distinct areas: theory, drawing, architecture and product design. He was the first Italian to receive the Pritzker Prize for architecture. He won the prize in 1990.
4. Delirious New York by Rem Koolhaas
In this 1978 publication, Koolhaas offers an innovative outlook and discusses the prospects of the urban block. It gives a cultural, architectural, and social history of New York
Rem Koolhaas is a Dutch architect and urbanist. He lectures at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard. In 2000 Koolhaas was awarded the Pritzker Prize.
5. Becoming an Architect: A Guide to Careers in Design by Lee W. Waldrep
This book offers comprehensive answers for students desirous of knowing more about their field of study and the possibilities of a lucrative career. Registration and educational requirements are highlighted and it also entails interviews and advice from leading architects.
Previously, Waldrep was associate executive director of the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), associate dean at the School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation at the University of Maryland and assistant dean at the College of Architecture at Illinois Institute of Technology.
6. The Possibility of an Absolute Architecture by Pier Vittorio Aureli
Aureli takes the reader on a journey of rediscovering the facets of architecture. Historical works are examined and contemporary interpretations are given to them.
Aureli has taught at the Berlage Institute in Rotterdam where he was PhD Supervisor and Coordinator PhD Program, Columbia University in New York and TU Delft.
7. What is Architecture by Paul Shepheard
Shepheard examines the subject of architecture, describing its place in art and technology, its place in history, and its place now.
He has taught at the Architectural Association in London, the University of Texas at Austin, the Academie Van Bouwkunst in Amsterdam and Artesis, Antwerp.
8. Theoretical Anxiety and Design Strategies by Rafael Moneo
This book entails lectures Moneo gave while at Harvard during the 1990s. He examines the work of eight influential contemporary architects.
José Rafael Moneo Vallés is a Spanish architect. Moneo won the Pritzker Prize for architecture in 1996 and the RIBA Royal Gold Medal in 2003.
9. Learning from Las Vegas by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown
In this 1972 book, which has later been revised, the authors appeal for architects to be more responsive to the tastes of regular people and less ostentatious in their self-glorification. A review of the attitudes towards pop art is utilized to examine the urban landscape.
A graduate of Princeton University, Robert Venturi met fellow faculty member, architect and planner Denise Scott Brown at the University of Pennsylvania. Venturi taught later at Yale School of Architecture and was a visiting lecturer with Scott Brown in 2003 at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. In 1991 Venturi won the The Pritzker Prize.
10. Collage City by Colin Rowe and Fred Koetter
This 1978 publication gives an acute reevaluation of contemporary theories of urban planning and design. This book also examines the function of the architect-planner in an urban setting.
Colin Rowe is from Britain and is influential in the fields of city planning, regeneration, and urban design. He taught at the University of Cambridge in England for one year. Thereafter, for most of his life, he has lectured at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. In 1995 he was awarded the Gold Medal by the Royal Institute of British Architects, the professional group’s highest honor.
Fred Koetter has taught at Cornell University, the University of Kentucky, Yale University, and Harvard University. He served as dean of the School of Architecture at Yale University for five years.
With these books, architect students will further appreciate the value of what is being taught and they will be able to be more innovative with their thought processes. In the words of Frank Lloyd Wright an American architect, interior designer, writer, and educator, “Every great architect is necessarily a great poet. He must be a great original interpreter of his time, his day, his age.”