10 Architecture Books to Add to Your Shelf

Looking for something new to read this holiday break? Here’s a list of books we think are essential to any architect’s collection.

How Architecture Works: A Humanist’s Toolkit by Witold Rybczynski
A look into how buildings are designed, what distinguishes “good” from “bad” architecture, and tips on how to read plans—complete with diverse examples of style from Renzo Piano, Frank Gehry, and Robert A.M. Stern.

A Field Guide to American Houses by Virgina Savage McAlester
Essential to any architect’s bookshelf, McAlester covers 400 years of architecture through style, form, and structures. Originally published in 1984, this revised edition expands the essential reference to include house styles, neighborhoods, and additional photographs.

The Architecture of Happiness by Alain De Botton
Exploring both the psychology and philosophy of how architecture affects the human experience, De Botton examines buildings around the globe, as well as interior design, to explore how each element plays a part in evoking emotion.

Architecture in the United States by Dell Upton
Highlighting the history and variance of American architecture and the diversity of its builders, Upton relates architecture to five common themes: community, nature, technology, money, and art. Upton intrigues readers through folk, ethnic, and iconic architecture including the Brooklyn Bridge and Wright’s Fallingwater.

The Classical Language of Architecture by John Summerson
Originally published in 1963 from a series of radio talks, this book explores the classical order of architecture from a poetic perspective, with grammatical “rules” and historic perspective that will appeal to both the analytical and whimsical sides of the brain.

Why Architecture Matters by Paul Goldberger
Goldberger shows us how even the smallest details on buildings can impact our lives. The book is meant to help readers “come to grips with how things feel to us when we stand before them,” and to evaluate how architecture affects us both emotionally and intellectually.

101 Things I Learned in Architecture School by Matthew Frederick
A comprehensive overview of architecture lessons—from drawing to presenting your designs in clear language. This is one book both practicing professionals and aspiring architects will want to keep within arm's reach.

The Details of Modern Architecture by Edward R. Ford
Covering 42 years of architecture, Ford provides over 500 illustrations and a comprehensive overview of the development of architecture, discussing technical details and comparisons of scale, style, and periods that are sure to inspire.

A History of Architecture: Settings and Rituals by Spiro Kostof, Gregory Castillo, Richard Tobias
This updated version of the famed original examines economic, social, and technical aspects of architecture with a variety of examples including the pyramids of Giza, Rome train stations, retails stores, and even prehistoric huts.

Frank Gehry, Architecture by Guggenheim Museum Productions
An inside peek at the visionary’s thought process to design, plus a comprehensive history of his work. The essays by architectural historians and museum curators explore Gehry’s iconic style from a variety of perspectives.