AN’s holiday book gift guide for anyone who loves architecture and design

Wrapping Up

AN’s holiday book gift guide for anyone who loves architecture and design

William Stout Architectural Books in San Francisco (Dale Cruse/Flickr/CC BY 2.0)

Still trying to find that perfect holiday gift for the book nerd(s) in your life? AN’s editors have you covered. We’ve rounded up 15 new releases that would make a perfect gift for any design or architecture aficionado on your gift list, whether they’re a friend, professional colleague, loved one, or yourself. This listing ranges from architectural monographs to biographies to pure eye-candy, so there’s something for everyone, from the more political minded to those looking to add to their sumptuous stack of coffee table selections. We did the shopping so you don’t have to, so scroll on to see our picks. These titles are available online, but consider purchasing from your local bookseller or, as time allows, a bookstore dedicated to architecture publications.

If books aren’t your bag, then check out our product-focused holiday gift, which can be viewed here.

gray book cover with 13 small images in black and red
(Courtesy Otherpress)

Bold Ventures: Thirteen Tales of Architectural Tragedy
By Charlotte Van den Broeck

A church with spire gone a wire, a swimming pool drowning in itself, and a building rumored to have killed its designer are just three of the 13 too-crazy-to-be-real-but-they-are tales of architectural tragedy recounted here. The authors draws on personal experiences and historical examples to relay the relationship between mankind and what it capable of creating.

book cover with illustration of underground sewer
(Courtesy Bloomsbury)

By Jessica Leigh Hester

Sewer takes readers on a journey underground to the meandering pipes and waterways underneath us where waste ferments and disease percolates. The oft-forgotten and hidden-but-so-necessary infrastructure below us has deep implications for urbanization, public health, infrastructure, ecology, and sustainability, not to mention our future. The book is part of Object Lessons, a series of short, beautifully designed books about the hidden lives of ordinary things published by The Atlantic and Bloomsbury.

black book with white text
(Courtesy Routledge)

Out of Architecture
Jake Rudin and Erin Pellegrino

If you (an architect) are looking to change directions in your career, you’ve come to the right place. Jake Rudin and Erin Pellegrino go through typical career paths—from school to burnout—before sharing accounts of those who have “escaped” to more fulfilling work built on the foundations of design education. Want more help? These Harvard-educated authors also operate a career consulting firm of the same name, so they’re available to help you pull the rip cord, if you need it.

book cover with photograph of city and trees and public plaza
(Courtesy the MIT Press)

Just Urban Design: The Struggle for a Public City
Edited by Kian Goh, Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, and Vinit Mukhija
The MIT Press

In this collection, the editors construct a bridge that spans between topics of justice and urban design. The contributors, through their work, “explore the possibility of envisioning and delivering social, spatial, and environmental justice in cities through urban design and the material reality of built environment interventions.” As a starting point, processes of urban design ought to be inclusive, accept community participation, and privilege marginalized voices.

yellow book cover with black text
(Courtesy the MIT Press)

Spatializing Justice Building Blocks
By Teddy Cruz and Fonna Forman
The MIT Press

Building Blocks offers 30 strategies to embed justice in the built environment. Among the directives: “Confront inequality,” “construct the political,” “decolonize knowledge,” “rethink ownership,” and, lastly, “retool ourselves.” These actions are detailed through text, photography, sketches, and imaginative diagrams, all printed on yellow paper. Cruz and Forman, who contributed to AN’s remembrance of Mike Davis, dedicated this book to the memory of Michael Sorkin. A second volume, titled Top-Down/Bottom-Up, is forthcoming.

book cover with image of a white and yellow building with decks
(Courtesy Angel City Press)

Common Ground: Multifamily Housing in Los Angeles
By Frances Anderton
Angel City Press

Frances Anderton hosted the long-running radio program DnA: Design and Architecture on NPR affiliate KCRW in Los Angeles from 2002 to 2020. Now, she’s published a book about multifamily housing in the city. The project-oriented compendium looks at complexes both historic and contemporary largely comprised of rentals and united by shared space. Frank Gehry called it “part architectural memoir, part call to arms.”

green book cover with furniture and objects
(Courtesy Penguin Random House)

How to Live with Objects
By Monica Khemsurov and Jill Singer
Penguin Random House

From Sight Unseen editors Monica Khemsurov and Jill Singer comes a delightfully playful and informative look at design and the material things we surround ourselves with. The book may have you completely remodeling your living room and rethinking what you do—or don’t—own.

(Courtesy MACK Books)

Caruso St. John Collected Works
By Caruso St. John
MACK Books

This first volume, with others forthcoming, details the practice and projects of Adam Caruso and Peter St John’s studio Caruso St John from 1990 through 2005. It starts at the beginning with the firm’s early emergence, offering detailed accounts of early projects and competition entries, presented alongside unpublished drawings and new commentaries.

cover of book with sky and red building
(Princeton Architectural Press)

Radical Practice
By Marlon Blackwell Architects
Princeton Architectural Press

Edited by Peter MacKeith and Jonathan Boelkins, this monograph is a thorough and amply imaged compedium of the work of this Fayetteville, Arkansas–based architect. The practice’s spiky buildings seem to emerge from a confluence of barn shapes, a can-do attitude of material pragmatism, and the warm, regional remnants of modernism. A bevy of photographs by Timothy Hursley set each piece of architecture in its place, while written contributions from people like Tod Williams, Billie Tsien, Maurice Cox, Thom Mayne, James Corner, and Mary Miss deepen readings of the practice’s successes.

book cover with white painted smudge
(Courtesy Phaidon)

Faye Toogood Drawing, Material, Sculpture, Landscape
By Faye Toogood, edited by Alistair O’Neill

Is there anything Faye Toogood can’t design? Phaidon has published a fraction of the British artist’s massive portfolio, with sketches, drawing, and photography of works, spanning disciplines from clothing to interiors. The book expertly details her sinuous furniture designs, her forays into fashion design, while offering a glimpse into her design process.

book cover featuring moshe safdie and a building
(Atlantic Monthly Press)

If Walls Could Speak
Moshe Safdie
Atlantic Monthly Press

Canadian Israeli-born architect Moshe Safdie shares his experiences and inspirations working as architect, beginning with his life growing up in Israel and Montreal. Accompanying the biographic work are drawings, sketches, photographs, and documents from Safdie’s robust archive. The book closes with seven projects Safdie would propose for the world “if resources and will were no issue and the choices were his to make.”

book cover with portrait of buckminster fuller
(Courtesy Harper Collins)

Inventor of the Future: The Visionary Life of Buckminster Fuller
By Alec Nevala-Lee
Dey St./Harper Collins

This exhaustive biography of mastermind architect Buckminster Fuller sheds light on the origins of some of his most notable works. While the book looks back on interviews and unpublished documents from Fuller’s lifetime and career, Fuller himself will always be remembered for looking toward the future.

green book cover with black and photograph of a tree
(Courtesy Hirmer)

Olmsted Trees
By Stanley Greenberg

This year marks the 200th anniversary of visionary landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted’s birth. To coincide with the momentous event, New York photographer Stanley Greenberg has published a book with 100 black and white portraits of the trees from Olmsteadian properties across 10 U.S. cities, documenting their mossy trunks and spindling branches in all their tonal glory.

blue book cover with black and white photograph
(Courtesy D.A.P. | Distributed Art Publishers, Inc.)

Uncrating the Japanese House: Junzō Yoshimura, Antonin and Noémi Raymond, and George Nakashima
Edited with text by Yuka Yokoyama, William Whitaker. Text by Elizabeth Felicella, Ken Tadashi Oshima. Photography by Elizabeth Felicella.
August Editions

Shofuso, a Japanese house and garden located in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park designed by Japanese architect Junzō Yoshimura, and two properties in Bucks County (the Raymond Farm by Antonin and Noémi Raymond and, nearby, George Nakashima’s compound) are the subjects of this handsome book. Published by August Editions, this story about modern living in Japan and the United States emerges from historical context and newly commissioned photographs.

book cover with pink and green text and black and white miami buildings
(Courtesy D.A.P. | Distributed Art Publishers, Inc.)

Miami in the 1980s: The Vanishing Architecture of a “Paradise Lost”
By Charlotte von Moos, Max Creasy, Kersten Geers, and Niels Olsen
Walther König

Charlotte von Moos sheds some much needed light on Miami’s 1980s architecture detailing realized projects, demolished ones such as Arquitectonica’s The Babylon (captured here by photographer Max Creasy), and others that never saw the light of day. The book’s vivid graphics emulate the showy quality of the buildings it examines, and of course an early project by Rem Koolhaas makes a guest appearance.  The offering is a bold, preservation-minded plea with rich archival images, illustrations, floor plans, and historical text. The volume’s opening and closing sequences of soft-focus magazine imagery hits home, as decades before cofounding AN, Bill Menking worked as the art director for Miami Vice.