Must have books for Student

Discussion among students of architecture, planning, interiors, landscape, and environmental design. Occasional contributions by lurking design professionals.

Postby O-Archy » Thu Dec 30, 2010 11:26 pm

Woah!! did this tread jumpus offa the tracks or what?
Here's one for you kiddos:

The Tao of Pooh (look up the author y'slf)

and


Graphic Thinking for Architects and Designers by Paul Laseau

Cheers
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Postby phansford » Fri Dec 31, 2010 9:13 am

O-Archy wrote:The Tao of Pooh (look up the author y'slf)


Fun book.
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Postby phansford » Fri Dec 31, 2010 10:59 am

@ Rick -

They're not buzzwords.... and typically architects use the jargon to discuss their craft with each other... not clients. Unless the client is fairly sophisticated.

It is important that your work be informed. You do this by being knowledgeable about whatever profession you've chosen. That's the point of being well-read and knowledgeable about the craft.

There is a big difference between a house that Robert Venturi or Robert AM Stern designs and the schlock produced by "house designers". I don't expect "house designers" to get it.

Chris is incorrect when he says anyone can learn to play the flute.... Sure they can learn where to place their fingers on the instrument and how to blow into the reed...... but they can't write music without understanding the music theory. I can't play jazz without knowing the chord progressions used in jazz. Otherwise I'm just making noise... not music.

So what "house designers" do is they create noise... they throw around forms and roof shapes and window types and put the dining room next to the kitchen.... and think they are creative. But they aren't creating architecture because.... the proportions aren't right, views are ignored, materials and texture and mass and scale are simple rules they don't know or comprehend. They don't understand the idea of sequential experience.....

Hence Eisenmann's comments. If you don't know history and theory and the rules used to create architecture.... you can't create it. Its just a building. I don't need to listen to someone blowing into a flute making noise.... and I won't waste my time trying to discuss a building in architectural terms that's not based on architectural principles.
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Postby RickBalkins » Sat Jan 01, 2011 6:12 am

phansford wrote:@ Rick -

They're not buzzwords.... and typically architects use the jargon to discuss their craft with each other... not clients. Unless the client is fairly sophisticated.

It is important that your work be informed. You do this by being knowledgeable about whatever profession you've chosen. That's the point of being well-read and knowledgeable about the craft.

There is a big difference between a house that Robert Venturi or Robert AM Stern designs and the schlock produced by "house designers". I don't expect "house designers" to get it.

Chris is incorrect when he says anyone can learn to play the flute.... Sure they can learn where to place their fingers on the instrument and how to blow into the reed...... but they can't write music without understanding the music theory. I can't play jazz without knowing the chord progressions used in jazz. Otherwise I'm just making noise... not music.

So what "house designers" do is they create noise... they throw around forms and roof shapes and window types and put the dining room next to the kitchen.... and think they are creative. But they aren't creating architecture because.... the proportions aren't right, views are ignored, materials and texture and mass and scale are simple rules they don't know or comprehend. They don't understand the idea of sequential experience.....

Hence Eisenmann's comments. If you don't know history and theory and the rules used to create architecture.... you can't create it. Its just a building. I don't need to listen to someone blowing into a flute making noise.... and I won't waste my time trying to discuss a building in architectural terms that's not based on architectural principles.


I hardly here architects talk in these terms out in the boon docks away from architecture school. I have talked with Architects and retired Architects and these terms are hardly use. One of the Architect friends I talk with on a regular basis has 40+ years experience and hardly uses these fancy words. The retired architects that I talked with before they passed away were working in the days of Eliel & Eero Saarinen. In fact, one of them worked for Eliel & Eero Saarinen. Each generation of architects have their lingo.

Those modernist era folks talked in terms for form and function. The terms are little more plain english. If they think it sucks, they say it flat out.

Buzzwords are also known as jargon or techno-babble or geek-speak or similar terms when we are talking about IT folks. Same point with archi-speak. It is just the same way IT folks uses all these jargons / techno-babble in attempt to impress the their peers. Kind of a classic - "who gots a bigger....". It often has the same premise in Architecture and used for the same reasons. It happens.

Yes, it is in cases used for how you mentioned it but most in and around architecture school environment. I would expect that in Eugene and Portland area architects to talk that way for those firms around the school. When speaking for the schools in Oregon with architecture. Get out to the coast and those terms tends to fade away.

Chris is right, anyone can learn the flute or recorder. That is why there is books, CDs, and digital media to learn from. There are books that can teach someone to read music and when they practice enough, they'll get it. The reason self-directed learning works is someone put the time to put the information together in a learnable format in writing or a number of media. People all learned in school how to research. In the depth of study one can certainly develop the skill to write music or they'll just make noise if their effort is shallow - like you said.

Unless someone is a voracious seeker of knowledge, they won't go very far. This takes an exceptional person with exceptional effort. Having said that, why did I say anyone can? There is nothing but the person's will that is stopping them. If they want it bad enough to seek it they will get it. I do agree with you that it is important to be well read and well verse in the lingos.

Eisenmann certainly makes a good point. I'm not going to argue that point much.
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Postby csintexas » Sat Jan 01, 2011 10:35 am

My wife took fiddle lessons from a guy sometimes considered to be one of the top fiddle players in Texas and he could not read music and never studied theory.

Yes if you want to play jazz you have to study jazz -but jazz is not the only music. Anyone can make their own music and it is still valid music (it just isn't jazz music).

I think you are confused about what architecture is.

For you it seems to be about creating things that are within the architectural community, following it's conventions, speaking it's language and so on.

In reality architecture also exists outside the official community.

This is why people like P.E. are elitists. They consider their view to be the only valid view.

In reality history is for the most part irrelevant. What Vitruvius wrote in his day may have been very valuable then -today it is not much more than a curiosity.

This is not to say that we should not learn from the past. I can't say PE actually learned anything from his study of architectural history other than spouting the words.


If you don't know history and theory and the rules used to create architecture....

...than you can't talk about it with P.E. because the first thing he will do is tell you that you are a monkey.

I have seen plenty of architects creating noise as well.

Again I think you are confusing what the average American wants and is willing to pay for and what architecture would be if this where a perfect world.

This is not a perfect world and architecture does not exist in a vacuum.
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Postby phansford » Sat Jan 01, 2011 12:50 pm

csintexas wrote:My wife took fiddle lessons from a guy sometimes considered to be one of the top fiddle players in Texas and he could not read music and never studied theory.


Sooooo...you want everyone to believe this person never listened to music to learn how to structure music.... he never got together with others to learn from them... and he never read about his favorite artists or music genre....(all of which is called studying)..... he just picked up the "Fiddle" one day and played.

No one said you had to have formal (college) training to play music, but I damn well bet this person didn't just picked up the instrument and started play. And I bet he can talk about chord structure and timing and the other fundamentals of music that allows him to play something that doesn't sound like a cat in heat.

Thats my point.

Rick is so thick headed - he even reinforced my argument that someone would buy DVD and books to learn about music so they could play the instrument..... no SH#T... that's exactly what I am saying. People try to get educated so they can understand the fundamentals and play music.

But for some effing reason you idiots don't think you need to study architecture to discuss it and worse practice it.

csintexas wrote:I think you are confused about what architecture is.

blah.....blah....blah


No - I am not.... If you'd like to discuss vernacular architecture we can..... but it would be a futile exercise on my part. As always.

Oops.... I just used another elitist architectural term. :evil:

I am done with this crap.

There is no reason for me to come here and try to have a civil conversation with someone who clearly is underqualified in every aspect of building design but wants to argue every attempt to assist them.
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Postby RickBalkins » Sat Jan 01, 2011 5:15 pm

phansford wrote:
csintexas wrote:My wife took fiddle lessons from a guy sometimes considered to be one of the top fiddle players in Texas and he could not read music and never studied theory.


Sooooo...you want everyone to believe this person never listened to music to learn how to structure music.... he never got together with others to learn from them... and he never read about his favorite artists or music genre....(all of which is called studying)..... he just picked up the "Fiddle" one day and played.

No one said you had to have formal (college) training to play music, but I damn well bet this person didn't just picked up the instrument and started play. And I bet he can talk about chord structure and timing and the other fundamentals of music that allows him to play something that doesn't sound like a cat in heat.

Thats my point.

Rick is so thick headed - he even reinforced my argument that someone would buy DVD and books to learn about music so they could play the instrument..... no SH#T... that's exactly what I am saying. People try to get educated so they can understand the fundamentals and play music.

But for some effing reason you idiots don't think you need to study architecture to discuss it and worse practice it.



Phansford, You missed my point partly. Perhaps, it is all a matter of interpretation.

These books, DVDs, etc. are teaching the principles just like anyone talking to you face to face. The information and basis are there. You just have to pay attention. So, someone wrote this down or recorded it onto a disc so they don't have to repeat the same "lecture" again and again. People can learn from all this just by reading the book or listening to the CD/DVD. It all can be communicated. When someone studies from these materials, they aren't doing things via the school.

You have implied some sense of formal education (perhaps unintentionally).

When we look at PE, he is certainly implying formal education so that might be the context. When we imply architecture school and comparing architect with building designers, that all implies architecture school. No credit is ever given for self-directed study.

For what I said to you, I was not really disagreeing with your main point. Only on the argument based on how you explicitly wrote about Chris statement:

"Chris is incorrect when he says anyone can learn to play the flute.... Sure they can learn where to place their fingers on the instrument and how to blow into the reed...... but they can't write music without understanding the music theory. I can't play jazz without knowing the chord progressions used in jazz. Otherwise I'm just making noise... not music."

I argued that ANY person can learn to play the flute. ANY person can. Well... ok, a deaf person may have a problem if they were deaf from birth. I was arguing that there are ways one can do that without all the 'formal education' which the preceptual context of this conversation seems to imply.

The other point that I was saying is on your other point. You don't hear this kind of talking very much outside architecture school and immediate vacinity to it. When you get a bit away from it, you don't see that happening. Heck, out in the boondocks of Astoria and locale, architects don't have gathering parties of Architects. No AIA chapter here. You have to travel into Portland, 100 miles from Astoria. So, it isn't the conversation piece around here. Even when architects here do talk to each other, they aren't talking in fancy words that much. Some architectural words are used but not the more obscure ones like "Lux Nova" or "space / anti-space". "Space", yes. Mostly in academic setting. Outside the academic setting.... doubtful.

That is my point on that part. It depends on what you want or need to know or study. Does one need to be completely versed in every little book or theory of some other architect.... probably not unless you plan to go to crits to do critiques to teach architecture or something to that matter. Some architectural terms like "polite" and "vernacular" is not all that elitist and obscure. Terms that those familar with historic preservation & restoration would know.

I don't here much in Decon terms here because that kind of architecture isn't common around here and almost never gets built in Astoria considering that most of it is historic districts. There very little places that would allow that in Astoria due to huge inconsistency of Decon form and the form of the various Architectural styles in Astoria.

"Lux Nova" is a term that is largely replaced by plain english explanations of light passing through stain-glass. Most people don't speak latin anymore. Using foreign languages to the language the people speak is often seen as elitist.

Some terms are seen as esoteric or elitist. It seems to not be something people are as concerned with when you are out in the rural areas away from architecture schools. Oh well... redundant.

It is just the way it is.
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Postby phansford » Sat Jan 01, 2011 7:01 pm

Rick - to state that no one talks about architecture in intellectual terms .... then to disclose you live in an extremely rural area is pretty disingenuous.

Let me assure you that those discussions occur. I will tell you that those conversations don't occur among all architects here in Dayton, Ohio.... only those interested in craft and design have those conversations..... but then this isn't New York, Chicago, or LA.

You are focused on the technical aspect of Lux Nova and missing the entire importance of it as it is related to the development of the Gothic Church and the idea of creating the "heavenly city" on earth. The idea is to use light to affect the experience of entering the church. Its about creating an experience for the user. So no... using the term Lux Nova is not elitist. You however are using incorrectly to refer to it as light passing through stained glass....
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Postby RickBalkins » Sat Jan 01, 2011 7:27 pm

phansford wrote:Rick - to state that no one talks about architecture in intellectual terms .... then to disclose you live in an extremely rural area is pretty disingenuous.

Let me assure you that those discussions occur. I will tell you that those conversations don't occur among all architects here in Dayton, Ohio.... only those interested in craft and design have those conversations..... but then this isn't New York, Chicago, or LA.

You are focused on the technical aspect of Lux Nova and missing the entire importance of it as it is related to the development of the Gothic Church and the idea of creating the "heavenly city" on earth. The idea is to use light to affect the experience of entering the church. Its about creating an experience for the user. So no... using the term Lux Nova is not elitist. You however are using incorrectly to refer to it as light passing through stained glass....


I chose not to go on and on about Lux Nova for verbosity sake and how it relates to the development of the Gothic Church, imagery of heaven, etc.

I wasn't saying Lux Nova was specifically elitist but esoteric and that speaking latin (a foreign and somewhat esoteric language) gives a sense of elitism. There is some purposeful usage of words I used. It is how the light passes through stain glass and the atmoshpere and subsequent effect. I stated it a little more detail in a prior post so I didn't want to repeat what I already wrote. Even then, I was keeping that part short. I was stating about the origin of the use of Lux Nova. Yes, we learn how light effects the environment and how people experience space. However, the term Lux Nova is hardly used. Unless you are discussing the history of the concept. Everyday conversation about architecture tends to be in the here and now and perhaps to the point of the historic context of the building.

Perhaps, I would here the term more if we are talking about a gothic or gothic revival church or building.

It is just the way people communicate. Around here, we don't live in a socrates or aristotle environment. Perhaps it is fun to talk about on a forum like this. I rarely see it on the 15th and Commercial st. or the 17th and Grand or the 3rd and Main St. We don't see that much. Remember, alot more of America is these rural areas then these concentrated cities.

Do note: I am NOT against the idea. It might be something worth encouraging.
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Postby RickBalkins » Sun Jan 02, 2011 7:16 am

In this post, I'll delineate some basic "types of architects" which can also describe types of "building designers".

I am deriving this from chapter 12 of "Architect? A Candid Guide to the Profession".

The Natural Talent: Possessing natural talent or intellectual ability to comprehend and grasp information and concepts and sense of scale, proportions, and just shear gifted.

Rich "elite" - borned in circumstances that has allowed such person to be with special advantages that made success into architecture easier such as economic class.

Architectural artise, defined by manner not background or inherent / base talent or intellect. Through mere gesture and words the "artistes" typically express themselves flamboyant and often with unconventionally. They love to demonstrate and an audience. Much often what they do is consciously chosen or fashioned to express their tastes in art and to put on a show through what they may wear, or through how they live or through authors that they love to read or quote and the diversions they seek. This could be an example of Frank Gehry, Frank Lloyd Wright (in various respects), and Peter Eisenmen (sp?) in some aspects.

The Prima Donnas - They can be oblivious to or disdainful toward other people, ideas, and activities unconnected to their own interests or needs. Humility eludes many Prima Donna types because they place themselves on a pedestal through their self-estimation and many do not hesitate to tell you how accomplished they are.

The Fantasizers: Always dream up and propose projects that seems unrealizable. They are not concerned with the practicality, convention or acceptability of their ideas. Stretching the boundaries of style, scale, technology, ect. FLW share some aspects of these attributes.

The Pragmatics (Practicals) - This type of architect (or building designer) are the pragmatic, down to earth type. They are the realists/practical - get the job done type. They prefer reality to fantasy. For some, they may seem anti-intellectual but in fact they do embrace intellectual concepts that makes practical sense and proves to be useful. They trive on the nitty-gritty process of design/construction and are more concerned with cost & deadlines. This type tends to avoid aesthetic speculation and verbal theorizing, are less concerned with meaning of beauty but the means of achieving beauty.

Any architect/designer can be obsessive and compulsive and any one person could share more then one attribute in major and minor ways. Even morph throughout their career.

More often then not, building designers tend to be pragmatic as the architectural culture in the academia environment of architecture school pushes and even demeans the pragmatic for the artiste environment and often this is the only kind the effectively works in the residential market in low to medium level. As the pragmatic tends to look at the numbers more then the architect-artiste or designer-artiste type that is about the flamboyance (which often exceed budget) and the fantasizers which are somewhat the polar extreme that Architectural school and community tends to show case and put up on the pedestal.

csitexas would fit into the category of designer that is 'pragmatic' (not talking about his ethical attributes but personality attribute as a designer).

In categorizing of myself, I would often see myself as somewhat of the pramatist with attributes of a "natural talent" type.

Just as there are multiple types of architects. The same can be said to be true for building designers. Often a few types are rare in the building design market and I would say that they often do not possess the neccessary enough skills to keep the eye on the budget. That becomes problematic in the business of the practice of building design. Every practice is in itself a business.
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Postby csintexas » Sun Jan 02, 2011 11:56 am

I see listening as being fundamentally different than studying the theory of it.

We all use and experience houses but your argument is that this is not enough to create architecture -that we need to study the theory and history of it as well.

This is not true in music and it is not true in architecture.

You just made my point for me: of course he listen to music and copied others -he just did not go to a music school.

You equated architecture and music and I agree that they are similar. Theory is not a requirement although the more varied and thorough ones knowledge is the better their chances of creating something interesting.

Architecture is all around us just like music is. You don't need to read books on theory to make it. They may help you sound more academic but they don't guarantee you will be a good musician.

Vernacular is not really an elitist term because it is in general use unlike Lux Nova that has not been current for a thousand years. Residential designers use vernacular all the time. This is the reason that the plan did not require great amount of detail -because everything about it was common to this area.

It depends on how people use the terms. People like P.E. use them to make themselves sound like intellectuals and not as the best way to express an idea or convey information.

Classical music is fine it is just not the only music out there and to say that it is the only proper good music is snobbery. P.E. telling that student that their work was meaningless because they don't know the difference between whoever and whoever would be the equivalent of Phillip Glass telling some rapper that their music is not valid because they don't know Beethoven.

It is that sort of attitude that continually makes architects look bad. They don't just bad mouth designers they bad mouth each other just as much. There may have been a valid criticism of that students project -P.E. just did not make it. Him opening his mouth was a complete waste of that students time.

When I say you are confused it is because you don't seem to differentiate between the academics or talking about architecture and the actual practice of architecture -they are two separate things.

Whether or not architects and unlicensed designers know what the term
Lux Nova means is mostly irrelevant. What P.E. or Micheal Graves thinks about architecture is irrelevant unless we want to discuss their ideas.

In my view someone like Sarah Susanka is much more relevant.
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Postby RickBalkins » Sun Jan 02, 2011 4:47 pm

Beethoven.... hehehe.... Of course everyone interested in Music knows Beethoven just as anyone in Architecture would know Frank Lloyd Wright.

However, you bring a valid point. In fact, both sides of this issues have valid points and not so valid points.

Just because you don't know Khosrovidukht or Joseph Hadyn does not mean you can't write music or create music. Because the concept and contribution outlives the person. Hell, who remembers the first person to create music score systems. Who came up with the concept of music scores in manuscripts and previous mediums. Who invented the method of recording the music notes on any medium.

What was that person's philosophy on music.... good luck... person is probably well forgotten and whatever music philosophy he/she had.
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Re: Must have books for Student

Postby ivoryandbrown » Wed Dec 07, 2011 11:43 am

I really have to second 'Experiencing Architecture' by Steen Eiler Rasmussen. First published in 1964 by MIT Press.
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Re: Must have books for Student

Postby Quick dimension1 » Wed Dec 21, 2011 12:56 am

8) I think books are good but case studies are more fruitful
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Re:

Postby Philip Kang » Fri Mar 09, 2012 3:33 pm

phansford wrote:Those are decent reference books.... but you seriously need to read the following books IF YOU ARE GOING TO BE SERIOUS ABOUT ARCHITECTURE (Its the only way you'll work in the best firms)

Vitruvius: Ten Books in Architecture.
Personally I prefer Thomas Gordon Smith's "Vitruvius on Architecture". Smith looks at the five books that discuss architecture directly and puts it in relationship to current practice. He was the Dean of Architecture at Notre Dame and turned that program into a haven for Classicism.

Place of Houses by Charles Moore
Nice primer on contextual design.

Kindergarten Chats by Louis Sullivan
The Master discusses architecture with the apprentice. Without Louis there would be no Wright.

Experiencing Architecture by Steen Eile Rasmussen
This is an excellent book for beginning students. (Re-reading this myself)

Towards a New Architecture by LeCorbusier
No comment needed.

Classical Language of Architecture by John Summerson
A nice small book that transcribes Sir Summerson's BBC radio series of the same title. Excellent Excellent book.... I have read it at least 4 times.

Complexity and Contradiction by Robert Venturi
You need to have a firm grasp on architectural history to understand some of his references. Venturi loves Luytens.... but don't we all. This books gives us the ability to break the strait-jacket of Modernism and look at history again.
Also read Learning from Las Vegas by Venturi.

Mathematics of the Ideal Villa and other Essays - Colin Rowe.
(This is pretty heady stuff and you might need to wait a year or so in your studies before tackling it)

Urban Space by Rob Krier
If you are not designing with urbanist viewpoint, then your work is just meaningless objects on the landscape. Its the space they form with their neighbors and how they connect to each other.

This is just a start..... I could easily list 20-30 more books.


It astounds me when people come into my office looking for work and they can't even begin to discuss IN DETAIL the major works of important architects or treatises. To paraphrase Peter Eisenmann.... you might as well be a monkey in front of a typewriter.... you can bang on the keys all day, but you won't create literature. If you don't know architecture.... how are you going to create it!!!! My 17 year son has read more on architecture than most interns I know!!!!


I think he has good points here. I personally think that if you are really serious about architecture, you need to devote your good amount of time to architecture. That includes interns, grad students, and every one else who says he/she is serious about architecture.
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