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20 Top Books on Architecture, Planning, and Design
in Philadelphia and Around the World

The AIA Bookstore and Design Center has selected the 20 most essential books focusing on the shaping and interpretation of the built environment and the objects that we create. Everyone with an interest in architecture, cities, and design should own these titles.

Some are classic and timeless while others are new and innovative, but all of these books speak to the essential themes of our world through discussions about people, places, and ideas. These themes never go out of fashion.

   01   

Design of Cities — by Edmund Bacon $45.00
In a brilliant synthesis of words and pictures, Edmund Bacon relates historical examples to modern principles of urban planning. He vividly demonstrates how the work of great architects and planners of the past can influence subsequent development and be continued by later generations.

 

   02   

Architecture: Form, Space, Order — by Francis D.K. Ching $45.00
For more than 30 years, the beautifully illustrated Architecture: Form, Space, and Order has been the classic introduction to the basic vocabulary of architectural design. The updated third edition features expanded sections on circulation, light, views, and site context, along with new considerations of environmental factors, building codes, and contemporary examples of form, space, and order.

 
   03   

The Sacred and the Profane — by Mircea Eliade $14.00
A noted historian of religion traces manifestations of the sacred from primitive to modern times, in terms of space, time, nature and the cosmos, and life itself.

 

   04   

Philadelphia Architecture: A Guide to the City — by John Gallery $25.00    
This updated, comprehensive guide provides descriptions and photographs of over four hundred of the city's important buildings. With seven walking tours, historical timelines, and short biographies of Philadelphia architects.

 
   05   

The Death and Life of Great American Cities — by Jane Jacobs $15.95
A direct and fundamentally optimistic indictment of the short-sightedness and intellectual arrogance that has characterized much of urban planning in this century.

 

   06   

Between Silence and Light — by Louis Kahn $18.95
Updated with a new preface, this classic work is a major statement on human creativity, showing us Louis Kahn as architect, visionary, and poet.

 
   07   

Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan — by Rem Koolhaas $35.00
Rem Koolhaas's celebration and analysis of New York depicts the city as a metaphor for the incredible variety of human behavior. At the end of the 19th century, population, information, and technology explosions made Manhattan a laboratory for the invention and testing of a metropolitan lifestyle - "the culture of congestion" - and its architecture.

 

   08   

Towards a New Architecture — Le Corbusier $12.95
This pioneering proclamation by the great architect expounds Le Corbusier’s technical and aesthetic theories, views on industry, economics, the relation of form to function, "mass-production spirit," and much more. Profusely illustrated with over 200 line drawings and photographs of Le Corbusier’s buildings and other important structures.

 
   09   

Frank Furness: Architecture and the Violent Mind — by Michael J. Lewis $45.00
A lively account of America's most original Victorian architect. This first biography details his abolitionist upbringing in staid Philadelphia, probes the horror of war and its translation into aggressive architecture — train stations, banks, and libraries — and illuminates Furness's influence on his century and the world. 200 b/w illustrations and photographs.

 

   10   

The Image of the City — by Kevin Lynch $22.00
What does the city's form actually mean to the people who live there? What can the city planner do to make the city's image more vivid and memorable to the city dweller? To answer these questions, Lynch, supported by studies of Los Angeles, Boston, and Jersey City, formulates a new criterion - imageability - and shows its potential value as a guide for the building and rebuilding of cities. The wide scope of this study leads to an original and vital method for the evaluation of city form. The architect, the planner, and certainly the city dweller will all want to read this book.

 
   11   

Massive Change — by Bruce Mau $29.95
The book is divided into 11 heavily illustrated sections covering major areas of change in contemporary society — such as urbanism and architecture, the military, health and living, and wealth and politics. Each section intersperses intriguing documentary images with a general introductory essay, extended captions, and interviews with leading thinkers, including engineers, designers, philosophers, scientists, architects, artists, and writers. Concluding the book is a graphic timeline of significant inventions and world events from 10,000 B.C. to the present.

 

   12   

Cradle to Cradle — by William McDonough $27.50
A manifesto for a radically different philosophy and practice of manufacture and environmentalism. Elaborating their principles from experience (re)designing everything from carpeting to corporate campuses, the authors make an exciting and viable case for change.

 
   13   

The Poetics of Gardens — by Charles Moore $36.00
This is an entirely different garden book: a pattern book in which a score of landscapes and gardens are drawn, described, and analyzed not just as a bouquet of pleasures but as sources, lodes to be mined for materials, shapes and relationships, and ideas for transforming our own backyards.

 

   14   

Design of Everyday Things — by Donald Norman $16.95
First, businesses discovered quality as a key competitive edge; next came service. Now, Donald A. Norman, former Director of the Institute for Cognitive Science at the University of California, reveals how smart design is the new competitive frontier. The Design of Everyday Things is a powerful primer on how — and why — some products satisfy customers while others only frustrate them.

 
   15   

Pioneers of Modern Design — by Nickolas Pevsner $27.00
Nikolaus Pevsner’s study of the history of modern design, first published in 1936, is a classic text that offers an unrivaled account of the roots of Modernism. This new edition offers beautiful new illustrations, biographies of all major figures, a critique of Pevsner’s analysis from today’s perspective, and much more.

 

   16   

Experiencing Architecture — by Stein Eiler Rasmussen $22.00
Profusely illustrated with fine instances of architectural experimentation through the centuries, Experiencing Architecture manages to convey the intellectual excitement of superb design. From teacups, riding boots, golf balls, and underwater sculpture to the villas of Palladio and the fish-feeding pavilion of the Peking Winter Palace, the author ranges over the less-familiar byways of designing excellence.

 
   17   

Home: A Short History of an Idea — by Witold Rybczynski $16.00
Walk through five centuries of homes both great and small - from the smoke-filled manor halls of the Middle Ages to today's Ralph Lauren-designed environments - on a house tour like no other, one that delightfully explicates the very idea of "home."

 

   18   

Modern Architecture and Other Essays — by Vincent Scully $39.95
This extensively illustrated and elegantly designed volume distills Scully's incalculable contribution. Neil Levine, a former student of Scully's, selects 20 essays that reveal the breadth and depth of Scully's work from the 1950s through the 1990s. The pieces are included for their singular contribution to our understanding of modern architecture as well as their relative unavailability to current readers. Levine offers a perceptive overview of Scully's distinguished career and introduces each essay, skillfully setting the scholarly and cultural scene.

 
   19   

Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture — by Robert Venturi $19.95
This remarkable book has become an essential document in architectural literature. Winner of the Classic Book Award at the AIA's Seventh Annual International Architecture Book Awards.

 

   20   

Frank Lloyd Wright: An Autobiography — by Frank Lloyd Wright $24.95
Frank Lloyd Wright exerted perhaps the greatest influence on 20th century design. In a volume that continues to resonate more than 70 years after its initial publication, Frank Lloyd Wright: An Autobiography contains the master architect's own account of his work, his philosophy, and his personal life, written with his signature wit and charm.