Top Design/Architecture Books of 2010
December 20, 2010
It’s the time of year when people — especially editors — like to round up their mind scraps and put forth their best-of lists: the things that made us laugh, fume, and emote for the past 365 days. We’ve got a few reflections to publish in the space over the next couple of weeks, and we’re starting with our ten favorite books published in 2010. Some are straightforward Architecture with a capital A, and others are interesting for their disseminations of knowledge relating to the social and designing world at large.
Take a look:
1) Surprise, surprise. We waited years for the new version of the comprehensive AIA Guide to New York City to come out, and it did not disappoint. Lead writer Fran Leadon employs metaphors, biting criticism, and occasionally hilarious insights to chronicle architecture in the big city, from classics of yesteryear to harbingers of the future like Beekman Tower, Tschumi’s Blue Building, and the much-maligned Gwathmey Siegal tower at Astor Place. It’s a bit weighty for on-the-go sightseeing (think Zagat on steroids at 1,055 pages) but a must-have for the architecturally curious.
2) This year, we had the privilege of kicking off a series of competitions in conjunction with Actar’s latest offering, a compendium of multi-unit residential projects called Total Housing. The volume comprises 61 built works from firms like MVRDV, Elemental, and BIG, and we guarantee this will be the reference guide in housing studios of the present and future. (Peep a video preview of the book above and check out the mini-site here.)
3) Interactive design sensei Bill Moggridge — longtime partner at IDEO, recent appointee to directorship at Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum — put his thoughts to paper in Designing Media, which Brainpicker Maria Popova calls “exactly the kind of ambitious, compelling volume you’d expect from his reputation.” If you, like most of us, struggle with how to to incorporate mainstream media design values into the emerging field of digital media, this tome’s for you. (You can also check out the 37 interviews in the book online.)
4) Not on the topic of architecture, per se, but a graphical strata that speaks to designers of every stripe, Everything Explained Through Flowcharts cheekily analyzes the date of 2010: Facebook status updates, the present vs. the future, and how to tell if you’re an evil twin.
5) Malkit Shoshan spent ten years researching the geographic implications of the Israel-Palestine conflict and the result is a gorgeously printed volume from Rotterdam’s 010 Publishers. Atlas of the Conflict maps, investigates, and (re-) assembles the realities of the conflict, introducing a politics-free assessment of a major event through good design.
6) Their heyday was over a century ago, but the architectural trip McKim, Mead, and White is still a fascinating history lesson today. From the firm’s massive Beaux Arts influence on American architecture to the partner’s various transgressions (including the murder of Stanford White following an especially scandalous extramarital affair), Mosette Broderick’s Triumvirate: McKim, Mead ,and White deftly weaves together a portrait of the three principals and their varied clients. (Read the Wall Street Journal review here.)
7) What took longer to build, the pyramids of ancient Egypt, or Wikipedia? Clay Shirky’s relevant and mind-boggling book takes a look at how new media is turning us from consumers to collaborators, harnessing collective intelligence for the greater good. The book’s title, Cognitive Surplus, refers to the “surfeit of intellect, energy and time freed up by our shift away from passive media like television.”
8) Studio X: the conceptual architecture lab shadowing Columbia University’s GSAPP program developed from a lone pilot studio to a connection of event/work spaces in Beijing, Mumbai and Rio de Janeiro. In this volume, Studio X summates the needed blueprint for its infrastructure, identity, audience, and a set of tools to make it work.
9) You may be able to find Finnish Marimekko fabric at your local Crate & Barrel now, but it wasn’t always so. A little store called Design Research in Boston is credited with bring high design to the humble home, and the illuminating retrospective by design critic Alexandra Lange and wife of D/R founder Jane Thompson delves into the architecture of the space, the product selection, and Ben Thompson himself. (Historical sidenote: he was friends with Gropius and also an architect.)
10) In Marina City: Bertrand Goldberg’s Urban Vision, Igor Marjanovic and Katerina Rüedi Ray cover the story of the development’s design and construction in illuminating detail, while also delving into the equally fascinating and to date untold stories of the politics, financing and promotion behind what has become one of the most iconic modernist landmarks on the Chicago skyline.
And a quick shout-out to two upcoming books we’re especially looking forward to in the new year — Nature Framed by Eva Hagberg and the brand-new biography of Philip Johnson by Mark Lamster (UPDATE: not going into print until 2012). See y’all at the bookstore!