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10 Titles to Inspire, Inform, and Amuse: Holiday Book Round-up

From pleasures to patterns, and waterfronts to wonders (and even something for dummies)

by Ellen Louer
December 17, 2002

‘Tis the season for book reviews -- great resources for those last-minute (or hard-to-buy-for) gifts. Our Book Round-up for the Holidays is also the launch of what will be regular ArchNewsNow reviews by Ellen Louer, who we are very pleased to introduce as ANN Book Editor.


In the spirit of the season, if there are books you’d like to buy, we’d appreciate it if you’d click through the title links -- or the Amazon link at the bottom (prices listed here do not reflect Amazon discounts). A (very) small portion of your purchase(s) will benefit ArchNewsNow that, for almost a year, has been bringing you informative news and views with (so far) no annoying flashing/buzzing/haranguing advertising.


- Three hot-off-the-press -


PLEASURE: The Architecture and Design of Rockwell Group

By Rockwell Group Architecture, Kurt Andersen, Paola Antonelli, etc.

Universe Books; 224 pages

Copyright: November 2002

$65.00/hardcover; $45/paperback US


Anyone familiar with the Rockwell Group would hardly expect a traditional architectural monograph covering 17 years of the firm’s work. The cover – a lush detail photo of wheat grass – says immediately that “Pleasure: The Architecture and Design of Rockwell Group” is a feast for the eyes. The 34 projects presented are organized according to a sensory code, like Seduce, Comfort, Stimulate, and Entertain rather than by typical project categories. They range from hotels, casinos, retail, and restaurants to theaters, Broadway stage sets, products, and a children’s hospital. Inside, the large-scale project photos almost jump off the pages, while storyboard panels that run throughout the book are filled with images and artifacts that inspired each project. But this is not just eye-candy for the coffee table. The engaging text is provided by an impressive group of contributors that includes Paola Antonelli; Michael Bierut; Paul Goldberger; Reed Kroloff; and Richard Saul Wurman, among others. “Pleasure” is delicious. – Kristen Richards


Beyond the Edge: New York's New Waterfront

By Raymond W. Gastil

Princeton Architectural Press Paperback; 208 pages

Copyright: November 2002

$30.00 US


Will only issues of economic necessity, infrastructure, and politics rule New York’s future waterfront development, or can it embrace innovative design as well? Raymond W. Gastil, director of the Van Alen Institute, an organization dedicated to improving the design of the public realm, makes a very strong case for the importance of inspired design in the redevelopment of Manhattan's waterfront. What is impressive is that producing a book of this scope must have included an almost Herculean effort to make it so timely and informed about the issues surrounding the development of the water's edge in post-9/11 New York City. If it was complicated before, there are now the added concerns about monuments and icons, public space and public safety, reconstruction and renewal. Gastil's detailed analysis of current design proposals for New York is set against the backdrop of the city's history, its public process, and its ecological priorities, and includes interviews with project architects and other key players. The added dimension – and a most valuable one – is the overview of what is happening in other cities with high-profile waterfronts, such as Amsterdam, Barcelona, Bilbao, London, Philadelphia, and Seattle, where design has been instrumental in creating memorable buildings, parks, and public spaces. This would be an important book to anyone involved in or concerned about urban waterfront planning anywhere. - KR



Editors: Raymond W. Gastil and Zoë Ryan

Van Alen Institute Paperback; 93 pages

Copyright: 2003

$19.95 US


This is a special edition of a Van Alen Report that is also an expanded catalogue for the exhibit "Renewing, Rebuilding, Remembering." Presented at the Institute in 2002, and traveling to Glasgow's design center, The Lighthouse, in January 2003, the show was initiated in response to the attacks on the World Trade Center. It explores how seven cities (Beirut, Berlin, Kobe, Manchester, Oklahoma City, Sarajevo, and San Francisco) have renewed their urban life after catastrophic disasters, and places the events of 9/11 within a global historical and cultural context, demonstrating that there is not only room but also a necessity for creative solutions to building cities. The book is richly illustrated with hundreds of photographs, maps, and timelines, as well as articles, personal essays, and interviews by architects, planners, professors, journalists, and artists. In addition, a transcript from a roundtable discussion held in New York in August 2002 connects the exhibit to New York's own issues of memorialization and rebuilding. This is a small book, but filled with big ideas. It is available now through the Institute, and will be in bookstores in 2003. - KR


- Architectural History -


Edited by
Roger Shepherd
McGraw-Hill Hardcover; 243 pages

Copyright: 2002

$45.00 US




Edited by
Roger Shepherd
McGraw-Hill Hardcover; 297 pages

Copyright: 2003

$45.00 US


The American Institute of Architects bestows its prestigious 25-year award to buildings that have stood the test of time.  “Structures of Our Time” is a delightful examination of the 31 buildings that have earned this honor each year since 1969.  Going beyond appreciation, Shepherd’s book explores each building’s conception and design process, and considers its impact on architecture, users, and the culture itself. The structures honored are a diverse group of 20th century masterpieces – from homes to skyscrapers – and include some lesser-known honorees that may surprise.   Informative sidebars and hundreds of photographs (including some never before published) only add to its value. This is the first in a new series of Architectural Record books published by McGraw Hill.


“Skyscraper” is the latest volume in the AR series. It explores the development of the American skyscraper through annotated extracts from the first 50 years of the magazine, and looks at how these structures functioned in the eyes of the public, the context against which they were conceived, how their designers originally envisioned each project, and other fascinating bits of history.  By blending vintage articles and photographs with current criticism and images, it offers a fascinating analysis of an iconic building form. According to Shepherd, “This book is not a history of the skyscraper. It is a look at how criticism works. It’s a compilation of some of the most pungent and effectual criticism written for one of the most influential architectural magazines ever published.” Given the recent debates and new concerns about tall buildings in this post-9/11 world, it’s more important than ever to look back at the conflicts and criticism that helped shape some of our nation’s greatest skyscrapers.  Both “Skyscraper” andStructures of Our Time” would be welcome additions to the bookshelf of any architect and architecture enthusiast. – Ellen Louer


- Reference -


The Seventy Wonders of the Modern World: 1500 Years of Extraordinary Feats of Engineering and Construction
By Neil Parkyn (Editor)

Thames & Hudson Hardcover; 304 pages

Copyright: 2002

$40.00 US


This is the perfect book for the person who always asks, “How did they do that?”  While intended for general readers, it is a beautiful reference book that explores some of the world’s longest, largest, tallest, and most impressive structures.  It examines how they were built, and more importantly, how they remain standing. Written by architects, engineers, and historians, each listing contains a brief history, discusses engineering achievements and innovations, and the structure’s cultural impact. Also included are diagrams, reconstructions, and spectacular photographs that explain and celebrate these masterpieces of design and engineering.  A sidebar fact-file included with each listing shows vital facts and statistics at a glance. Despite the title, most of the structures profiled date to the 20th century, but it’s still a fascinating book to browse. - EL





By Cyril M. Harris

W.W. Norton Paperback; 370 pages

Copyright: 1998

$35.00 US


Still not quite sure what the difference is between Art Deco and Art Nouveau? “American Architecture” is an easy-to-use encyclopedia that defines architectural terms from Abacus to Zoophorus. Over 2,500 definitions and nearly 1,000 illustrations describe construction materials and techniques, landscape elements, decorative terms, and practical devices. Many of the clear and concise definitions are illustrated and include cross-referenced terms that are clearly marked in bold font. Particular attention is paid throughout the volume to architectural styles and their elements. This comprehensive book is most appropriate for an architecture student or the layperson with a personal or professional interest in architecture. - EL




By Deborah K. Dietsch; Foreword by Robert A.M. Stern

Wiley Publishing Paperback; 336 pages
Copyright: 2002

$21.99 US


Despite, or perhaps because of the name, the Dummies® series has been very successful for a good reason; it cuts through professional jargon to provide a solid introduction and overview of the subject at hand. The newest installment is “Architecture for Dummies,” which not only discusses great buildings and great architects, but what makes them great.  Each topic is followed by a brief, clearly written explanatory paragraph. It is best suited for architecture students and non-professionals, although architects may want to consider this as a holiday gift for that special someone in the office who just doesn’t get it. – EL


- Residential and Interior Design -


By James Grayson Trulove 
Watson-Guptill Paperback; 192 pages
Copyright: 2002

$39.95 US

“The Smart House” is primarily a photo essay that examines the latest high-tech trends in contemporary residential building. The book features 10 houses designed by top architects that the author believes best illustrate the use of Smart Design, Smart Technology, and Smart Materials. The architects include Francois deMenil Architect; Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects; Architectural Research Office; and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. Following a very brief description of each home is an architectural plan and several pages of attractive color photographs. Although it’s not a great gift for the Luddite in your life, it could provide design inspiration for more technology savvy folks. - EL





By Murray Silverstein; Max Jacobson; Barbara Winslow

Taunton Press Hardcover; 288 pages
Copyright: 2002

$34.95 US


Twenty-five years ago, architects Silverstein and Jacobson (and others) coauthored the groundbreaking design guide “A Pattern Language.” In it, the authors defined over 200 design ideas which they called patterns. Now, joined by their architectural partner Winslow, they return to refine the language down to the 10 essential patterns for residential homes. From “Inhabiting the Site” to “Composing with Materials,” readers will appreciate the beautiful photographs, illustrations, and informative sidebars and captions that bring each pattern to life. It is a handsome and useful reference presented in a clear and straightforward manner for design professionals and homeowners seeking inspiration and sound design advice. – EL




(click on pictures to enlarge)

Pleasure: The Architecture and Design of Rockwell Group

Beyond the Edge: New York's New Waterfront

Information Exchange: How Cities Renew, Rebuild and Remember

Structures of Our Time: 31 Buildings that Changed Modern Life

Skyscraper: The Search for an American Style 1891-1941

The Seventy Wonders of the Modern World: 1500 Years of Extraordinary Feats of Engineering and Construction

American Architecture: An Illustrated Encyclopedia

Architecture for Dummies

The Smart House

Patterns of Home: The Ten Essentials of Enduring Design

© 2003