Reference Library


HOW BUILDINGS LEARN - What happens after they're built - Stewart Brand

(Penguin, 1995, 243 pgs, $25.99 US)

A lot of bad design can be worked out of a building over years of service. Real usage patterns impose themselves and social and technological change can trigger enormous creativity in conversions - producing wonderful results that are closer to accident than they are design. Brand studies these patterns, providing keen insight into how buildings can improve with time, and perhaps leading to new ways of thinking about future design.

GOVERNMENT FAILURE - Gordon Tullock, Arthur Seldon, Gordon L. Brady

(Cato Institute, 2002, 193 pgs, $9.95 US)

"This is an invaluable book by three noted scholars of public choice. It shows that one way of fighting back is to demonstrate that government is a lot more costly than you think. These authors teach this lesson well." Robert D. Tollison


(Princeton Architectural Press, 2000, 420 pgs, $40.00 US)

The relationship between architecture and graphic design is both obvious and subtle, its subtlety mirroring the link between the built environment and popular culture. Tibor Kalman was the first editor of Benetton's Colors magazine, defining the awkward, edgy relationship between cutural criticism and corporate advancement. His brilliant Benetton campaigns presented haunting images we all know, at once demanding moral self-examination and cementing the name of a manufacturer of cotton garments with this process. "Consumption is a treatable disease," and "Consumer culture is an oxymoron" define the kind of reversed commercial imperative that is both the focus of Perverse Optimist and the heart of a brilliant man's career, whose young loss to cancer has left us all wandering in the dark.

ECOURBANISM - Miguel Ruano

(Editorial Gustavo Gilli, 1999, 192 pgs, $45.00 US)

An inspiring collection of studies of sustainable human settlement, in both social and environmental terms. Mr. Ruano begins with the admission that he doesn't really know what sustainable development looks like, despite the fact that the topic has been his professional life's work. He presents 60 wonderfully illustrated and examined case studies, reasoning that if our civilization has managed to generate any examples of sustainable development, then these are surely among them.

Home from Nowhere - James Howard Kunstler

(Simon and Shuster, 1998, 318 pgs, $12.00 US)

Kunstler is a surprising writer, drawing together disparate ideas and agendas and presenting a clear and frightening and yet entertaining picture of our diseased modern urbanism. His diagnosis is not without hope, as he sees a new sensitivity to built environment emerging in some areas. His concern is that this sensitivity will be dashed by the mind-numbing bureaucracy that has infected virtually every building authority in North America, and increasingly world-wide.

Delirious New York - Rem Koolhaas

(The Monacelli Press, 1994, 318 pgs, $35.00 US)

The history of New York is the history of urbanism. And Rem Koolhaas' enviable architectural insight and erudition is well utilized in this fascinating mixture of history and architectural criticism. I love this book, so this will sound odd: I recommend leaving it by the toilet for a week or two, for brief dips before undertaking reading it in the normal way. It is both entertaining and demanding, and this will make it both more comprehensible and perhaps even more stimulating.

LeCorbusier, Architect, Painter, Poet

(Abrams Discoveries, 1993, 160 pgs, $12.95 US)

This beautiful little book is a very brief and yet thorough synopsis of LeCorbusier's life and work. Well printed and illustrated, every page has a new surprise or insight on this complex and very talented man. Most authoritative LeCorbusier references are out of print. A Barnes and Noble search on LeCorbusier, which is generally a more honest appraisal of available books than Amazon, shows only out of print, used books, which are often very expensive. Alas, it seems this book is also now out of print, so our small supply may not be replaceable.

The Architecture of Arthur Erickson

(Tundra Books, 1975, 228 pgs, priceless)

"At this stage in our history when most forces at work in society are dissociative ones, diffracting our knowledge even further, dispersing our energies, fracturing our society, disrupting the ecology of our planet, dismembering our cities, the architect has the opportunity - and I believe the duty, though he seldom seizes it - of being a cohesive force, of providing wholes, "integrities" as Buckminster Fuller would put it in a different sense. As the mechanization of life and man proceeds on its relentless course, we need to reaffirm that which the machines would atrophy in us - the human spirit." from the foreward by Arthur Erickson

This large, beautifully illustrated book is long out of print, and we do not have a supply. But I know that Mr Erickson has a stash of them, and I suspect that a really nice written request might cause him to part with one or two, particularly for library use.


coming soon.

Available References