If you want to be a better architect, you should read these 15 books.


If you want to be a better architect, you should read these 15 books. These are the books that have had a significant impact on the way I think design. Thinking design is the key difference between an architect and a builder or drafter. An architect knows how to think about design, space creation, and solutions that can bring beauty and balance. If you are an architect or thinking about being an architect read these books. Add the books you think I should read in the comments section below.

serve god save the planet

Serve God Save the Planet by Matthew Sleeth

This is a wonderful book of hope for the future that re-imagines the way we live.

Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander

Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander

This book proposes that design is interconnected and relies on patterns.

Architecture Form Space and  Order by Francis Ching

Architecture: Form, Space, & Order by Francis Ching

A very nice summary of the principles of architecture with very nice graphics.

How to start and operate your own design firm

How to start and operate your own design firm by Albert Rubeling

Understanding how to run a design firm allows you to work well in a firm and eventually run your own firm. This book gives a nice introduction.

The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard

The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard

A book that explores application of lived experience using phenomenology.

Space Time and Architecture The Growth of a New Tradition by Siegfried Giedion

Space, Time, and Architecture: The Growth of a New Tradition by Siegfried Giedion

If you can find a first or second edition, get it, the book has been referred to as the bible or architecture.

Cradle to Cradle Remaking the way we make things by William McDonough

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the way we make things by William McDonough

Rethinking the way we approach design to include how we can deconstruct the built environment is an important next step for our profession. This book sets up the idea.

Towards a New Architecture by Le Corbusier

Towards a New Architecture by Le Corbusier

A manifesto for generations of architects.

Rural Studio Samuel Mockbee and an Architecture of Decency by Andrea Dean

Rural Studio: Samuel Mockbee and an Architecture of Decency by Andrea Dean

A story of a man who changed architecture forever and my career path for the better.

Builders Guide to Mixed Humid Climate by Joseph Lstiburek

Builders Guide to Mixed Humid Climate by Joseph Lstiburek

If you don’t know the lessons in this book (know your climate and order that version) you should not be drawing wall sections.

The Not So Big House by Sarah Susanka

The Not So Big House by Sarah Susanka

A new way of thinking about how to make a place feel like home.

The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs

The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs

A call to action for creating urban spaces that have organic urban vibrancy.

Sun, Wind, and Light by Mark DeKay

Sun, Wind, and Light by Mark DeKay and G.Z. Brown

Another book that if you don’t know this book, stop drawing wall sections, stop creating spaces, stop building buildings.

The_Essential_Calvin_and_Hobbes

The Essential Calvin and Hobbes

There are more life lessons in this one book for architects and everyone else than all the other books combined.

The Lorax by Dr. Suess

The Lorax by Dr. Suess

A call to action to care about our decisions and to take action to make the world better.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. wnhale says:

    Very nice. Will look into Sleeth and Bachelard. Thanks and BlessingsWmSent from my Veriz

    Liked by 1 person

  2. pennie garber says:

    A very thoughtful list. Serve God Save the Planet is also one of my very favorite books. A must read not just for architects, but anyone living in today’s modern culture. Jon recommends the Lorax as a graduation gift for all civil engineers.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bruce says:

    I will read some books on your list. Here are two for you: World Order by Henry Kissinger; Foreign Policy Begins at Home by Richard Haas.

    Liked by 1 person

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