The 50 Best Architecture Books

Sara Mandeed
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What are the 50 best books about architecture? There are thousands of architecture books out there, and new ones are published every year. Surely it’s impossible to know which architecture books are the best. The good news: putting together a list of the 50 best architecture books is not impossible. In fact, it’s relatively simple, and this is how we did it.

NameCategoryProduct
Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented ArchitectureBest OverallBrunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture
The Ten Books On ArchitectureBudget PickThe Ten Books On Architecture
Architecture of the Sun: Los Angeles Modernism 1900-1970Upgrade PickArchitecture of the Sun: Los Angeles Modernism 1900-1970

1. Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture

Our rating: 9 / 10

Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture

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Pros:

  • Easy to read
  • Makes little to no use of vernacular architecture
  • Encourages a deep appreciation for the grandeur of the dome
  • Gives details about Brunelleschi’s life and work

Cons:

  • Skimpy on details
  • No mention of Brunelleschi’s use of supporting dislocations

This masterpiece of architecture was built as the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, located in the center of Florence. It was designed by the master architect himself, Francesco di Simone Brunelleschi, who also created the dome.

Using the dome as a major religious monument, this book offers a description of the modes of action Brunelleschi guided during this journey, and how he discovered the structural secrets of the dome. It also gives you the backstory of his fight with the other more eminent architects of the time. It’s the perfect starting point for anyone who’s new to the subject.

2. Architecture's Odd Couple: Frank Lloyd Wright and Philip Johnson

Our rating: 9 / 10

Architecture's Odd Couple: Frank Lloyd Wright and Philip Johnson

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Pros:

  • Acclaimed national book critics on the list
  • Gives a comprehensive take on the two architects
  • Captures the essence of their "give and take" relationship
  • With beautiful photos
  • One of the earliest look into the lives of these two legends to date
  • Written by a well-known architecture critic and historian
  • Piece was first published in the New York Times

Cons:

  • The text can be a bit wordy for some
  • Some may be a bit off put by the length of the piece
  • May be a bit dry for those with little or no experience with architecture

This book is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of American architecture. It highlights the friendship and mutual respect between two of the most revered architects of their time: Frank Lloyd Wright and Philip Johnson.

This book delves deep into the minds of these two men and their friendship and the impact they had on each other's lives and careers. It touches besides on their inspirations, the state of American architecture at that time, and the conflicts they faced. Despite their age difference, the two men found a lot in common and had great respect and admiration for one another.

3. Craftsman Homes: Architecture and Furnishings of the American Arts and Crafts Movement

Our rating: 8 / 10

Craftsman Homes: Architecture and Furnishings of the American Arts and Crafts Movement

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Pros:

  • Covers American Arts & Crafts Movement
  • Over 50 sketches, plans, and color plates
  • Strategies and how-to information
  • Contents are easy to understand
  • Ideal reference or coffee table book

Cons:

  • Book is 11" x 8.5" x 1"
  • A little too simplistic for some users
  • The cover is glossy, so it can be easily damaged

Craftsman Homes: Architecture and Furnishings of the American Arts and Crafts Movement is the best architecture book for beginners who want to learn more about the famous Arts & Crafts Movement. The book is based on the Dictionary of American Architecture series, a greater work to write than the dictionary of American English. You will find dozens of beautiful illustrations, analytical descriptions, details, and plans of many of the most famous Craftsman homes.

The book covers the key homes and architects of the arts and crafts movement like George Washington Smith, Frank Lloyd Wright, John Calvin Stevens, and many others. This book will give you a fantastic introduction into some architecture and furniture that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to experience in person. It covers beautiful designs, characteristics of architects and techniques, as well as strategies and how-to information that will allow you to create your own craftsman homes.

4. Architecture of the Sun: Los Angeles Modernism 1900-1970

Our rating: 8 / 10

Architecture of the Sun: Los Angeles Modernism 1900-1970

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Pros:

  • First comprehensive critical examination of Los Angeles’s most innovative and enigmatic Modernist architects
  • The book features more than 200 vintage and archival images, drawings and sketches
  • Includes the work of Elmer Grey, Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra, Craig Ellwood, Rudolph Schindler, John Lautner and Pierre Koenig

Cons:

  • Might not be the best book for beginners
  • You may need to zoom in to see details
  • A little bit pricey

The Los Angeles coastal region had a brief 30-year moment in history as the cultural, intellectual and architectural capital of America. The book goes on to explore the emergence of the Pacific Rim Modernist movement and its aggressive departure from the Neoclassical tradition and European Modernism. The book includes insightful interviews from iconic architects. For example, Frank Gehry and Irving Gill, both of whom are associated with the Los Angeles Modernist movement.

The authors set out to write the first comprehensive history of LA’s most innovative and enigmatic Modernist architects. The book features more than 200 vintage and archival images from the likes of Elmer Grey, Richard Neutra, Rudolph Schindler and John Lautner.

5. St. Petersburg: Architecture of the Tsars

Our rating: 8 / 10

St. Petersburg: Architecture of the Tsars

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Pros:

  • Contains over 200 photos
  • Features many historical black and white illustrations
  • History of the city is well-documented
  • Covers the periods of Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, WWII, and post-WWII

Cons:

  • In-depth exploration of architectural styles
  • Only available on the Kindle format

By Iliya Bikov.

This book is well-written, informative, and beautiful to look at. It provides you with a full account of the history of the city, including the very early periods when Russia was still a monarchy. If you're a history buff, there's a lot for you to read about in this book. It's full of historical photos and illustrations, and this book is well-suited for anyone that's interested in the history that surrounds the architecture.

The author uses photographs of the city's skyline to illustrate the passage of time, with photos as recent as 2017. It's a great story about the buildings that have existed in this city during those age periods. Many black and white photos are included, which really give the reader an idea of what the city was like in its early days.

6. The Architecture of Happiness

Our rating: 8 / 10

The Architecture of Happiness

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Pros:

  • Aristotle Prize for the Best Non-Fiction Book of the Year
  • Distinguishes between pleasant and good architecture
  • Shows how we can use architecture in our everyday lives
  • Unique blend of philosophy and realistic architecture designs

Cons:

  • Some readers found the book boring
  • Might be unable to transfer the book into real-life situations easily

This is one of the best books on architecture that encourages readers to look at their surrounding for inspiration. This book provides inspiration for architecture that we can incorporate into our own lives. It shows you how to use architecture for everyday living and overcome barriers that could otherwise defeat you. It shows how we can overcome the shortcomings of architecture and turn them into your strengths.

This book provides an interesting look into the buildings that we use every day and how they can make us happier. It is indeed an amazing architecture book that shows how we can make our lives happy.

7. The Story of Architecture

Our rating: 8 / 10

The Story of Architecture

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Pros:

  • Perfect size at 12" by 9.5"
  • Great book for beginners
  • Large margins for pencil notes
  • Top-quality materials and printing
  • Extraordinary customer service
  • Thumbtabs for easy navigation
  • Hard binding with a protective dust jacket

Cons:

  • Prints a little dark
  • Not great for experienced architects

Drawings, Plans, Sketches from Ancient Times to Modern

This book is one of the best architecture books out there for anyone interested in architecture and who wants to learn about the profession. If you’re a beginner or have little knowledge about architecture, or if you just want to be inspired, this is the best book for you. It’s also perfect for architecture students.

It contains fascinating and historical information about architecture that is presented in a visually stunning way. The book has very high-quality materials and the images are outstanding. It comes with a protective dust jacket that gives it a professional look.

8. Archi-Graphic: An Infographic Look at Architecture

Our rating: 8 / 10

Archi-Graphic: An Infographic Look at Architecture

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Pros:

  • Detailed representations
  • Great for beginners
  • Beautiful design
  • Good size for home use
  • Dimensions: 8.2 x 1.5 x 11 inches
  • Weight: 1.45 pounds

Cons:

  • Reading level may be difficult for some
  • Some illustrations have issues

One of the most comprehensive architecture books on the market is ‘Archi-Graphic: An Infographic Look at Architecture’ by Barbara Bock.

This highly detailed and very robust guide to architecture is a complete A to Z resource for anyone interested in this field. Compiled by an architect, Archi-Graphic is a visual encyclopedia of architecture in the Western world.

The guide covers fundamentals regarding a number of subjects, from the basic definition of architecture to building techniques, to popular styles and individual notable buildings to visit. It also includes fact boxes filled with useful information for each style of architecture you can find plus diagrams and updated modern layouts.

9. A Field Guide to American Houses: The Definitive Guide to Identifying and Understanding America's Domestic Architecture

Our rating: 7 / 10

A Field Guide to American Houses: The Definitive Guide to Identifying and Understanding America's Domestic Architecture

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Pros:

  • Over 800 architectural houses
  • Haunting photography that really captures the style of the houses and sculptor James Sidwell
  • Delves into architecture from all corners of the country, from the east coast to the southwest
  • Great for both novice and experienced collectors of architecture literature
  • Value priced

Cons:

  • Potential for damage due to poor packaging during shipping
  • Takes time to get used to the organization and legibility of the houses
  • Some of the photographs are deceptive

When it comes to architecture books on domestic houses, A Field Guide to American Houses really is the definitive guide to identifying and understanding America’s domestic architecture. It contains over 800 houses, and most of them tend to feature great southern or midwestern architectural design. It’s great if you’re looking to learn more about the history of America’s domestic architecture and want to do so in an entertaining and visually appealing manner.

10. The Architecture Reference & Specification Book updated & revised: Everything Architects Need to Know Every Day

Our rating: 7 / 10

The Architecture Reference & Specification Book updated & revised: Everything Architects Need to Know Every Day

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Pros:

  • The concise package of a spec book with a plate-book for everyday planning and decision-making
  • It’s a one-stop-shop for all your design needs
  • Written in a simple format with short descriptions and checklists
  • The only book that covers both technical and personal considerations
  • Two copies of every page pulled out as plates for easier referencing

Cons:

  • Buyers should be aware of the limited use it will have for those who have been out of college for two decades or more.

This book will be most useful to young professionals, as their suitability for the job will be seriously questioned without proficiency in the areas covered in the book. In addition, an architect considering a major career change would be well advised to learn the basics of the architectural profession, and this book is a great place to begin.

Tom Leach is a well-known author and speaker on his specialty in design processes, and that is reflected in his writing. In addition, he’s also a licensed architect and has worked in nearly every aspect of the design profession, so his opinion carries considerable weight. Leach has been tested and examined to be a competent subject matter expert.

11. Seeking New York: The Stories Behind the Historic Architecture of Manhattan–One Building at a Time

Our rating: 7 / 10

Seeking New York: The Stories Behind the Historic Architecture of Manhattan--One Building at a Time

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Pros:

  • Offers a unique perspective on Manhattan
  • Includes updated versions of many of the structures found on the main list
  • Features historical black and white images
  • Contains excerpts from relevant texts by the likes of Lin-Manuel Miranda and Thomas Jefferson
  • Covers a wide variety of different structures, from churches, like St. Patrick’s Cathedral, to residential properties, like the Dakota Apartments, which was the home of John Lennon, to well-known skyscrapers, like the Chrysler, and everything in between
  • Offers a wealth of information about unique architectural elements that can guide you during your visit, like Duffy Square, which served as the launch point for the city of Atlantis in The New York Times best-selling novel, ‘Atlas Shrugged’

Cons:

  • The text could be stronger, as it often reads too much like a history book
  • It does not provide enough context for the reader, meaning that you lose a sense of order when trying to match the buildings to their locations on a map

By Louis A. Turco

12. The Language of Architecture: 26 Principles Every Architect Should Know

Our rating: 7 / 10

The Language of Architecture: 26 Principles Every Architect Should Know

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Pros:

  • Widely acclaimed book
  • Teaches you about the design process
  • Disseminates design principles in a remarkably simple manner

Cons:

  • There is a chance the content might be too basic for experienced designers
  • Is written by an architect, so it might not be an impartial analysis of the subject

By Edward Allen, Inc.

If you are an architect trying to find a fundamental level of understanding regarding the principles behind your trade, this is the book you need to possess.

There are a number of books similar to this one, to learn about architecture principles. But this one could be the best of the available options if you examine all the things you get yourself. The process of learning is divided into five portions which can be categorized as:

Cons:

13. Architecture: Residential Drafting and Design

Our rating: 7 / 10

Architecture: Residential Drafting and Design

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Pros:

  • Complete coverage of AutoCAD architecture
  • Book is well-organized and easy to use
  • Small, compact, and lightweight
  • Covers all the fundamentals of drawing house plans
  • Up-to-date on the latest software features
  • Gives clear and detailed instructions to help you become more proficient
  • Great for home and professional use
  • Excellent for the beginer architect
  • Covers a range of design topics

Cons:

  • Some users found the organization of this book confusing
  • May need to wade through a few chapters at the beginning of the book to understand it better
  • Not very descriptive, it covers a lot of topics, but not in details

14. The Architecture Of Light

Our rating: 7 / 10

The Architecture Of Light

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Pros:

  • It contains full-color reproductions and details of 100 of the worlds best-designed lighting creations.
  • The outstanding aesthetic of the buildings as well as their technical complexity are highlighted by the lighting solutions of the projects.
  • Some of the installations on the book have received awards that will be supplied in detail in its pages.
  • The book is suitable as professional reference for everyone.
  • The selection of projects and installations suits both architects and designers who are just starting their careers.
  • The book is an inspirational reference for landscape architects who look for innovative solutions for the play of light in the surroundings of the building.
  • The book is a must have for interior designers and lighting designers.

Cons:

  • Some of the projects are lacking details of their specific light design.
  • This book contains mostly buildings and spaces that are famous in the architectural press and, therefore, some of the space solutions are quite expensive to duplicate.
  • This book is not a practical guide for the design of public spaces.
  • The buildings analyzed in this book are in those countries where architectural press is more competitive. In other countries not all of them are common knowledge.
  • The book is much more expensive than other books in the market.

The Amazon score for this book is 4.5 out of 5 stars

15. The Architecture of Community

Our rating: 7 / 10

The Architecture of Community

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The Social Logic of Urban Form by Alex Krieger

This book explores the relationship between the physical makeup of land and community. Krieger touches on the importance of understanding why cities look and function the way they do, and how this influence social order and behavior.

Krieger writes about the importance of urban form and what this means for the cities and towns that we live in. The main point is that the form of the urban built environment influences the way we live together and they way we interact with others. In some cases, it has a greater influence on how people behave than laws do.

16. Architecture: Form

Our rating: 7 / 10

Architecture: Form

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Pros:

  • Concise, detailed, and well illustrated
  • Fantastic books on the basics of architecture
  • Many online reviews claim this is their favorite architecture book
  • Used as a reference by people across many industries
  • Often recommended by professors for architecture students
  • A valuable book for people who want to work in the construction industry or who are interested in designing their home

Cons:

  • The book’s illustrations have fallen out of date, and it’s unclear when they’ll be updated
  • It’s very expensive for the Kindle and paperback, though not for the hardbacked version
  • The vast majority of online reviews are positive, but there are a few negative reviews from people who find it too basic

One of the most valuable resources you will ever invest in when trying to learn about design is a book called Architecture: Form, Space, & Order by Philip Guyler. The book was actually written in 2007, but its illustrations are still relevant. For the most part, this book focuses on the fundamental principles behind the design of architecture. The book goes into detail about what defines good design, how it should be accomplished, and how an individual can begin using design principles in their own designs.

17. Archidoodle: The Architect's Activity Book

Our rating: 7 / 10

Archidoodle: The Architect's Activity Book

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Pros:

  • Fun and educational
  • Simple, easy-to-follow instructions
  • Beautiful and inspiring images
  • Can help develop spatial awareness
  • Can help spark the creativity of the impossible

Cons:

  • Not for those looking for professional advice
  • Very limited lesson plans
  • You’ll need to buy your own archival and water-soluble pens
  • Could be considered expensive for only 40 “ 50 pages

What is a kid to do when he can’t decide between drawing stick figures and designing buildings? The Archidoodle book is an activity book for building a model architecture portfolio. Each drawing and print comes with a short sketch alongside it so the child will not feel alone.

You don’t have to be an aspiring architect to enjoy this book. Whether it’s for a young kid or a young Designer, this is a great book for anybody to have fun with.

18. World Architecture: The Masterworks

Our rating: 7 / 10

World Architecture: The Masterworks

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Pros:

  • Colorful pictures
  • Irresistible price
  • Updated regularly
  • Bestsellers and emerging trends
  • Architectural schools for every country in the world

Cons:

  • No photos of completed projects
  • Descriptions can be a bit wordy
  • Still needs more support for emerging trends

Bestsellers, and Emerging Trends by Phaidon.

If you’re looking for a top pick as the best architecture book, consider checking out this beautiful volume from Phaidon.

This book gathers together some of the most outstanding examples of contemporary architectural design and projects that are in production around the world. The project contains a 2-page spread with color photos of over 1,250 buildings and projects from over 180 countries. It includes projects like museums, offices, apartment buildings, houses, religious spaces, transportation centers, and parks.

19. Introduction to Architecture

Our rating: 7 / 10

Introduction to Architecture

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Pros:

  • Introduction to the different styles of architecture
  • Covers everything you need to know about architecture
  • Ancient monuments, famous buildings, and modern design
  • Provides a detailed explanation about the history of each style and architect
  • Has tons of color photographs in addition to illustrations

Cons:

  • The price is a bit high
  • The language and writing style can be challenging for the beginner

This book from Robert McCarter and Vincent J. Scully is a comprehensive introduction to the different styles of architecture and how they came into being. It covers everything from the ancient monuments in Mesopotamia to the modern design of today.

The book is filled with color photographs and drawings of famous buildings and masterpieces by famous architects. Every architectural style tells a story that can merely be read from a book, but this text brings those stories to life.

More importantly, this book also takes the extra mile to explain the ideas and concepts that went into creating such marvels. What made these buildings famous in the first place? How did the architects come up with these ideas? Why are these buildings so famous? Each style of architecture is further explained with its characteristics, historical background, and which architects are famous for creating that style.

20. The Ten Books On Architecture

Our rating: 7 / 10

The Ten Books On Architecture

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Pros:

  • Offers an interesting and compact overview of the essential subtleties of architecture
  • Also gives you an insight into some of the most well known architectural images, designs, and pictures
  • Plenty of pictures and illustrations
  • Provides a good discussion of the important architects throughout history
  • Offers detailed descriptions of each of the featured architects
  • Covers a variety of architectural styles and designs from ancient to modern
  • Consists of a smaller size, and can easily fit into your pocket or bag

If you are looking for a compact book on the 50 best architecture books, then The Ten Books On Architecture (Illustrated) would be a great choice. It offers an interesting and compact overview of the essential subtleties of architecture.

It also gives you an insight into some of the most well known architectural images, designs, and pictures. Plenty of pictures and illustrations are included in the text.

It offers a good discussion of the important architects throughout history. The book provides detailed descriptions of each of the featured architects and includes some of the oldest and well established architects in the business like Brunelleschi and Michelangelo.

21. The Four Books of Architecture

Our rating: 7 / 10

The Four Books of Architecture

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Pros:

  • Great introduction to the basics of architecture
  • Easy to understand
  • Pages high-quality and long-lasting
  • Includes numerous black-and-white illustrations

Cons:

  • Aimed at beginners and non-experts in architecture
  • Contains numerous errors

Written by James Fraser and originally published in 1893, this out-of-print book about the basic concepts of architecture is a great addition to any library.

It contains some of the most fundamental information about creating, designing, and building a house – from choosing the site to the floors and final construction. The book offers straightforward descriptions of the process, along with great tips and advice.

There are also numerous examples of architectural drawings and plans, so that readers can better understand the various parts of a building. Some of the other topics it covers include decoration and planning, choice of standard details, and ornamental effects.

22. A Visual Dictionary of Architecture

Our rating: 7 / 10

A Visual Dictionary of Architecture

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Pros:

  • Quite comprehensive
  • Lots of useful definitions
  • Includes diagrams and illustrations
  • Full-color pictures and photos
  • Clear and concise text
  • Affordable

We really like the idea of an encyclopedia as opposed to a conceptual book. Therefore we chose this amazingly helpful book about the world of architecture. It features countless illustrations, definitions, and pictures, and even includes the history of the buildings.

A Visual Dictionary of Architecture is an excellent reference book for the architectural-minded. Anyone interested in architecture will find this book useful and informative. With over 1,000 pages, it covers an extensive range of topics – from building form and function to the architectural styles of the world.

Featuring illustrations and photographs alongside clear, concise text, this book is a great resource for anyone interested in learning about the ins and outs of the architectural world, as well as those who just want to know more about the world around them. It’s a complete seven-pound book, featuring over 1,000 pages of knowledge about the mind-boggling world of architecture.

23. The Future of Architecture in 100 Buildings

Our rating: 7 / 10

The Future of Architecture in 100 Buildings

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Pros:

  • Extensive survey catalog from African, Asian, European and South American architectures
  • Includes interviews with over 100 of the world’s greatest architects, including Norman Foster, Frank Gehry, and Rem Koolhaas
  • Great introductory material for students interested in architecture with brief but informative interviews
  • Provides a solid overview of modern architecture while giving students insight into the thought processes of some of the top architects working today
  • Impeccably organized into two sections
  • Each building is introduced with a brief summary about the architect’s personal history and style plus a description of his/her process
  • All the architects’ work is covered
  • The book also covers the world’s most significant architects as well as a few lesser known ones
  • The pictures are amazing, you’ll definitely want to fine art prints from this book

Cons:

  • In some of the interviews, architects mention buildings that they haven’t created and are still alive
  • It is almost impossible to wonder a building in every city

The Future of Architecture in 100 Buildings is an amazing book where one hundred of the world’s greatest architects are interviewed with different modern buildings they have created by their country of origin, and their thoughts about the future of architecture.

24. Modern Architecture Since 1900

Our rating: 6 / 10

Modern Architecture Since 1900

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Pros:

  • Textbook-style overviews
  • Detailed information on all the major architects and buildings
  • Includes pictures and short descriptions
  • Explanations for every building
  • Makes it very easy to understand the major shifts in architectural styles

Cons:

  • Might be difficult to navigate for someone new to architecture
  • Discusses architecture from a very Western, white-washed perspective

This is our top pick for the best architecture books and it comes highly recommended by the architecture academic community. If you want to read up on the biggest names in architecture of modern times, this is the book for you. It has short to-the-point chapters written by leading architecture scholars. Though there are much more glamorous architecture books, this is one of the most important introductory books you can get into as an undergraduate.

This book talks about an important spectrum of architecture from the end of the 19th century to the modernist era, including buildings by Louis Sullivan, Wright, Mies Van Der Rohe, among others. It also has a section on style movements such as Art Nouveau and Op Art, as well as postwar architecture.

25. Dictionary of Architecture and Construction

Our rating: 6 / 10

Dictionary of Architecture and Construction

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Pros:

  • Concise content
  • Available in multiple languages
  • Includes easy to understand diagrams
  • Good for beginers
  • Great for those interested in architecture

(Dictionary of Architecture and Construction)

There are many good architectural books and one of the best is the Dictionary of Architecture and Construction, which has been in publication for many years. This extensive tome is relevant to everything related to architecture, ranging from building components, materials, and techniques, to developing design, construction, the cost, and materials.

The Dictionanrry of Architecture and Construction is a dictionary, therefore you’ll find no history or pictures or other formal design elements. It’s a print-out of information that would otherwise be found after hours of sifting through online content and books. The content is concise and to the point, and it’s laid out in an organized and easy to understand format.

26. Understanding Architecture: Its Elements

Our rating: 6 / 10

Understanding Architecture: Its Elements

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Pros:

  • Bestseller in Architecture
  • Designed for beginner designers
  • Covers different architectural styles and movements
  • Offers quality content and high-resolution photos
  • Covers modern issues in design
  • Features helpful illustrations and common building materials
  • Lucid coverage on technical architecture related topics
  • A humongous volume of information for your money

Cons:

  • Not ideal for kids
  • Would have liked to have more on vernacular architecture in the US

4th Edition by Richard A. Vines

In the third edition of Understanding Architecture: Its Elements, History, and Meaning, the author has simplified the language in the book to make it more comprehensible to a broader audience. The fourth edition not only covers a detailed history of architecture, but also the different structural systems used in building that have evolved over time. It also discusses the role and influence of different aspects like climatic conditions, religion, environment, and site location in design.

It also offers detailed coverage of modern issues in design like zoning laws, builders imposed limits, and the way these can affect and influence the design of homes. The book also covers the vernacular architecture of the US, which has been largely ignored by many other reference books on the subject.

27. The Splendor of Cuba: 450 Years of Architecture and Interiors

Our rating: 6 / 10

The Splendor of Cuba: 450 Years of Architecture and Interiors

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Pros:

  • Colorful, big pictures in high-resolution
  • Extensive variety of buildings
  • Detailed sections on Cuban history and culture
  • Elegant layout
  • Useful lists of open houses and tours
  • Referenced by the New York Times, Bloomberg, and other media outlets

The Splendor of Cuba is a large-format, large-color photography book that explores the entire history of Cuban architecture. From colonial times to the present, this book covers everything from abodes of the rich and famous to humble homes of sugarcane cutters, our list of the best architecture books covers the full range of Cuban architectural styles.

Clemente incorporates a stunning array of color photographs that depict the different architectural developments that emerged in Cuba. The book also gives readers a rich perspective by incorporating sections on culture and life in Cuba, such as the Bacardi rum company and tribal influences.

There are a wealth of images in this book, many of them multi-page spreads. The pictures are at a great scale and invite users to pause for a moment and deconstruct the picture they see. The book is easy to follow, and it offers an overall understanding of architectural elements in Cuba that you won’t find in other architecture books.

28. Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture

Our rating: 6 / 10

Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture

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This book has sold over 30,000 copies since its release in 1983. It has been widely praised for its accessibility and perceptive analysis. It was selected by The New York Times as one of the best books of the year. It is also listed in the book 1001: The Best Books Ever Written.

Koolhaas's book is a look at architecture from a new perspective. It talks about the architect's responsibility to society, and the community's responsibility to the process of design. The book discusses urbanism, architecture, politics, and the ability of an architect to reshape society and create an environment that will impact it for years to come.

29. Sketching for Architecture + Interior Design: A practical guide on sketching

Our rating: 6 / 10

Sketching for Architecture + Interior Design: A practical guide on sketching

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Pros:

  • Useful for novices as well as experienced architects
  • Covers a range of topics
  • Excellent read for students of architecture and interior design
  • Concise but thorough
  • Plenty of clear, helpful illustrations
  • Comprehensive and full of useful advice
  • Covers a variety of subjects

Young professionals and practicing architects by R. Karthik Ram

The only con we found is that this book should have been named "Drawing for Architecture" because the author goes into some detail about sketching but doesn't delve into the more technical aspects of rendering. It will be a very good book for students and older beginners but not as much for younger ones who need more detail about the steps of rendering.

30. A Global History of Architecture

Our rating: 6 / 10

A Global History of Architecture

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Pros:

  • The book contains more than 200 projects from all over the world.
  • Each project includes diagrams, sketches, and photographs to help illuminate the text.
  • The chronological order of buildings is set by date, not by region
  • Reference material is provided for quick-glance comparison.
  • A history of architecture is included in each chapter.
  • The text is easy to understand.
  • Charles Correa was one of the leading figures in Indian architecture in the second half of the 20th Century.
  • He also had a career as a distinguished Indian architect.
  • The highly-acclaimed book was published in 1997.
  • This book covers his work through extensive publications, writings, and an oral history. 571 pages.

By John R. Buchsbaum

31. Art and Architecture in Mexico

Our rating: 6 / 10

Art and Architecture in Mexico

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Pros:

  • Fresh and contemporary writing
  • Gorgeous images
  • A bargain considering the information it contains

This books contains around 30 pieces of Mexican art as it is dominated by Mesoamerican architecture, its heritage, and its culture and more specifically, the post-Colombian era. This book has tips on where to find the best architecture in Mexico. The author explores the magnificent landscapes in Mexico as well as the notable architecture as he attempts to identify the art pieces that tell the modern history of the country. This book also helps you identify the common characteristics used in Mexican design and explains the world of Mexican art.

This book is great for both first-time tourists as well as seasoned travelers interested in learning more about the rich history of Mexico.

32. Sustainable Design: A Critical Guide

Our rating: 6 / 10

Sustainable Design: A Critical Guide

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Pros:

  • Easy to read and understand
  • Visual solutions for sustainable design
  • Clear definitions and explanations
  • Diagrams for easier understanding
  • An in-depth look at green building

Cons:

  • More of an overview; limited detail
  • Need to read other books on the subject

If you want to learn about design in a structured learning format that’s easy to read and understand, this is the book for you. With an overview of sustainable design and all the pressing issues surrounding it, like increased energy consumption and depletion of natural resources, this book will convince you that now is the time to go green.

Sustainable Design: A Critical Guide takes a look at how we can use sustainable design to combat the possibilities of dwindling resources and the impacts we have on the environment. The chapters start with learning about what this movement means, the terms that are used, and the history behind it.

The second section goes into what the movement means to different industries. Here you’ll find in-depth looks at sustainable design in architecture, transportation, and construction. The third section covers the principles and elements that are present in sustainable design, and the final part goes into more details about specific concepts: smart growth, energy efficiency, and green buildings.

33. Architecture in Wood: A World History

Our rating: 6 / 10

Architecture in Wood: A World History

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Pros:

  • Insightful and well-written
  • Basic overview of wood architecture
  • Includes projects by famous architects like Le Corbusier
  • Colorful and entertaining
  • 230 pages
  • Bonus free DVD features new documentary: “Wooden Architecture ”
  • A review without a single complaint

Cons:

  • Not enough pictures
  • Expensive

Dan Cruickshank and Ben Evans.

We love books that explore architecture, as well as books that focus on a specific building material. This book explores both. It includes projects from builders like Le Corbusier, an education leader who led the way for modern architecture. He and other famous architects contributed to this book and the design movement of wood architecture.

This book includes themes beyond the basic building companies. It explains the importance of wooden architecture on the global level as well – a history that goes back ahead of the industrial revolution. It’s a strong reminder that wood architecture hasn’t always been tied in with technology. As an alternative, the book explores other cultural influences like South Asian artistry and the longhouses of the Inuit. The explanation of wood architecture is clear and easy to understand, making it a great resource for people to learn more.

34. The New Old House: Historic & Modern Architecture Combined

Our rating: 6 / 10

The New Old House: Historic & Modern Architecture Combined

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Pros:

  • Lots of great content
  • Highly recommended
  • Includes great photos of all the homes/buildings
  • Shows multiple views of the houses

Cons:

  • Not well suited for beginners
  • Could include more examples

The New Old House: Historic & Modern Architecture Combined delves into the design ethos of two time periods, in one book. The book explores examples from the first half of the 20th century as well as contemporary houses. The book is well received in the architecture community, and we've included it here as one of the top architecture books you should have in your book collection.

Author Nils Franzen has an established career in architecture and interior design, focusing specifically on period design. He also worked with the Danish publishing company Trelleborgs Grafiske, which published his book.

The New Old House: Historic & Modern Architecture combines images of very distinct designs of houses. Besides providing a deep-dive into the exterior and interior architecture, this book also features information on each house and its location. Each building featured in the book has a description and views of multiple angles, which will greatly help you understand their design philosophy.

35. How to Read Churches: A Crash Course in Ecclesiastical Architecture

Our rating: 6 / 10

How to Read Churches: A Crash Course in Ecclesiastical Architecture

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Pros:

  • Quick intro to architectural styles
  • Presents the basic elements of style
  • General overview of religious buildings
  • Excellent layout with clear photos and visuals
  • Includes a glossary and suggested further reading

Cons:

  • A bit basic for seasoned architects
  • No specifics on religious buildings

(Revised Edition)

For students and non-architects, the How to Read Churches: A Crash Course in Ecclesiastical Architecture by “Edward W. Thompson will serve as a fun and informative introduction to the different architectural styles you’ll encounter. The text handles a broad overview of architecture, encompassing classical, Romanesque, Gothic, and modern styles.

With his years of experience as Professor of Architecture at the Washington State University, the author brings an expert perspective to the book. His gently humorous demeanor and sense of relativity will engage readers and make the concepts easier to grasp. The section on church history is well explained, and the book will give you a great cross-cultural overview, as he’s also written books on the topic.

36. The Architecture of Madness: Insane Asylums in the United States

Our rating: 6 / 10

The Architecture of Madness: Insane Asylums in the United States

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Pros:

  • More than just a book on asylums
  • Engages the reader from the outset
  • Makes history of architecture engaging
  • Solid research and well-written
  • Highly recommended

Cons:

  • Depth of coverage could use more variety
  • Repetitive in places
  • Certain details might be missed due to insufficient images

Architecture of Madness is an amazing study of America’s once-flourishing psychiatric hospitals, asylums, and poor houses. Written by Eric J. Brock, who has taught at the Rhode Island School of Design since 1969, and Charles E. Montgomery, who’s a professor of architecture at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, the book is part of The Architecture Reader Series.

The duo explored this topic for years, investigating about 500 mostly surviving insane asylums, poor houses, mission shelters, and hospitals. These self-righteous buildings were built mostly between 1840 and 1895, in a misguided attempt to help both the mentally ill and the poor. The book details the inherent horrors the residents of these structures had to endure through various photographic records and written accounts. It makes for a gripping read, covering crazy asylums like the Utica Asylum and the Oneida Colony.

37. Architecture: From Prehistory to Postmodernity

Our rating: 6 / 10

Architecture: From Prehistory to Postmodernity

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Pros:

  • In-depth and comprehensive survey of architectural history
  • Written by an expert historian
  • Illustrations are large and very detailed
  • Covers a wide range of topics
  • Provides an excellent reference for new parents
  • Concise and well-organized survey
  • Great for anyone who wants to jump-start or advance their knowledge
  • Recommended for anyone interested in the field of architecture

Cons:

  • Covers a very broad range of topics
  • It may not be ideal for new parents
  • Not much detail is covered on each building
  • The format is more text-based and may be challenging for some people
  • The chapters are not as detailed as they could have been

Architecture: From Prehistory to Postmodernity, by Anna Valentina Murch (Editor) is a third edition about the history of architecture which occurs between the early prehistory and beginning of the postmodern era. In-depth and comprehensive survey of architectural history, it covers the major trends and influences that have affected the evolution of architecture throughout the world.

A highly illustrated, large book, it provides an excellent reference for new parents, architects, designers, art and history enthusiasts, and scholars. It covers a wide range of topics that incorporates the developments, trends, and changes in the field of architecture.

38. Architecture: A World History

Our rating: 6 / 10

Architecture: A World History

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Pros:

  • Superb regional analysis
  • Good for beginners
  • Multiple sources to read

Cons:

  • Some areas have no commentary
  • History colliding with architecture

(Kelly)

To be blunt, the title of this book is not quite as good as it could be. It is now a 2014 Impression edition, but does not truly claim to be a complete history of architecture. It does however do a good job of looking at the building of world architecture from the beginning of time to the present.

The book takes great strides into looking at each region of the world separately and how the buildings are made. Each chapter is set up in a way that gives you an idea of what area and building the chapter is discussing. It also goes into some detail about the history of this region, and how it influenced their architecture.

39. Cape Cod Modern: Midcentury Architecture and Community on the Outer Cape

Our rating: 6 / 10

Cape Cod Modern: Midcentury Architecture and Community on the Outer Cape

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Pros:

  • Informative
  • Beautiful set of photos
  • Great resource for architecture enthusiasts
  • Timeless classic

This classic from Robert Winter explores the incredible mid-century architecture of Cape Cod. Readers will enjoy the beautiful photos which showcase some of the most famous homes in the area, which includes a couple of Frank Lloyd Wright properties.

The author includes a detailed history of the 1940s through the ’60s, when many modern designs were being constructed in the area. In addition, he does an outstanding job highlighting the principles of these designs to reach a better understanding of the style.

Architecture enthusiasts will undoubtedly enjoy this book. Some have even considered it a must-read for people moving out to the Cape, as it will help them get a feel for the kind of design they should expect to see. Plus, it’s a timeless classic that you can enjoy year after year.

40. The Urban Sketching Handbook: Architecture and Cityscapes: Tips and Techniques

Our rating: 6 / 10

The Urban Sketching Handbook: Architecture and Cityscapes: Tips and Techniques

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Pros:

  • Carefully crafted tips
  • Covers how to draw specific elements like windows, doors, and walls
  • Teaches you how to accurately depict a structure
  • Strong focus on composition
  • Easy to follow instructions

Cons:

  • Might be a little complex for those new to drawing
  • Somewhat expensive

Drawing is one the most fundamental skills in the world of art. It’s a skill you can apply to almost anything. That being said, many people have chosen to channel their artistic side towards architecture. If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to draw buildings using a sketchbook, then you’ll love The Urban Sketching Handbook: Architecture and Cityscapes.

This book is essentially an architecture manual that will teach you how to sketch quickly and easily. Here you’ll find everything you need to know to correctly portray an architectural structure. You’ll learn how to draw buildings from sketching fundamentals to computer-generated graphics.

41. Why Architecture Matters

Our rating: 6 / 10

Why Architecture Matters

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Pros:

  • Covers the role that architecture plays in society
  • Provides historical perspective on the evolution of architecture
  • Grabs the reader’s attention early on and makes you want to keep reading
  • Suitable for students as well as casual readers
  • Well-organized with a logical and easy-to-follow structure

Cons:

  • Doesn’t cover specific details of any particular architecture works
  • Many pictures of famous buildings
  • Largely focused on contemporary works

This book provides more than just a brief overview of the history of architecture. It dives deep into the past to discover the causes of the evolution we see today. Written in an easy-to-absorb manner, this book resonates with a wide audience and has become a best seller.

The book covers the roles that buildings play in the world today. It describes the actions performed in and around buildings, and it outlines what’s required for buildings to be considered “public”.

This book also breaks into different categories of building functions and uses. It specifically identifies and discusses residential, educational, institutional, cultural, workplace, and infrastructure functions. This book is considered one of the best because it highlights the impact these buildings have on the world in a manner that’s easy to read and understand.

42. The Architecture Student's Handbook of Professional Practice

Our rating: 6 / 10

The Architecture Student's Handbook of Professional Practice

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Pros:

  • Delivers value at a reasonable cost
  • Features a large breadth of information
  • Good read designed for all architecture students
  • Features a breakdown of basic information within different sections
  • Recommended for students and architects
  • Heavyweight book with solid contents
  • Good references for exercise questions from readers
  • Features a ton of figures without being too overwhelming
  • Designed to save time for professionals

Cons:

  • Slightly over-explicit
  • Has many design drawings and we would like to see more pictures

The Architecture Student's Handbook of Professional Practice: From Mies to Now is a fairly new release and has been well received by users.

This book is geared towards beginners that are taking their first steps in the world of architecture. It is one of the most comprehensive books for architecture students that we have had the chance to come across.

Some of the features of this book include a full understanding of basic architecture terminology and grammar, a solid foundation in design, general knowledge about the field and its history, along with exercises and figures for high-quality study.

43. Detail in Contemporary Timber Architecture

Our rating: 6 / 10

Detail in Contemporary Timber Architecture

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Pros:

  • Excellent, professional follow-up to the first book
  • Delves deeper into the various trends
  • Covers a wide variety of residential buildings
  • Informative, insightful commentary on the work
  • Available in hardcover or paperback
  • Great, gorgeous photos

This book is the follow-up to the first volume in the series, detailing the evolution of recent trends in residential, and small commercial architecture. The photos in this volume are just as good as the first, but the content is even better.

This one goes deeper into the various trends in architecture since the publication of the first book up until the publication of this one. Detailed commentary and analysis is provided with each project, so you can understand why the architects did what they did, and how they arrived at their decision to do so.

If you are a student or a designer of architecture, this is a great book to pick up. The sheer number of interesting, quality projects in this book will help to educate you on many of the aspects of design that otherwise you wouldn’t learn anywhere else.

44. The Architecture of the Italian Renaissance

Our rating: 6 / 10

The Architecture of the Italian Renaissance

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Pros:

  • Will help you understand the art of architecture, which is critical for all architects
  • Covers the art of the Renaissance from the 14th to the 16th century in great detail
  • For people who love to learn about art and history

Many people are surprised to learn that a lot of the methods of architecture used today are the same methods that were used centuries ago.

It is really important for any budding architect to understand the evolution of architecture throughout history so that they can create advanced buildings and structures in the future that are more effective and efficient. This book is considered by experts to be one of the most detailed analysis of the Italian Renaissance, which is why it’s on our list of top 50 books for architects to read.

The book begins with a short historical overview of medieval and Renaissance architecture in Italy. It then goes on to describe in great detail how the Renaissance architects employed different kinds of architectural principles and techniques for buildings and artwork. This is a unique concept that will teach you a lot about the history of architecture but at a much more detailed level.

45. Baroque and Rococo Art and Architecture

Our rating: 5 / 10

Baroque and Rococo Art and Architecture

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Pros:

  • The detailed plates
  • Suitable for artists, scholars, historians, and students
  • Covers the detailed plates of the baroque and rococo art and architecture
  • Illustrated with many engravings and drawings of unfamiliar buildings.

Cons:

  • Pochhammer does not cite his sources
  • His commentary is biased with constant attacks on the rococo
  • The text is very dense and lacks clarity

Pochhammer’s treatise on the baroque and rococo architecture is divided into two volumes, the first volume covering the early baroque and the second volume covering rococo.

The art and architecture Pochhammer describes is that which was built during the time of King Louis XIV. He categorizes the art of this time into two categories – baroque and rococo. He traces the development of art and the rise and fall of Louis XIV and the reign of his successors.

The first volume of Baroque and Rococo Art and Architecture covers the first portion of the baroque and the entire rococo. This first volume of Pochhammer’s treatise is very detailed, even in places entering into minute details.

46. Architecture After Modernism

Our rating: 5 / 10

Architecture After Modernism

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Pros:

  • Comprehensive survey of progressive architectural schools
  • Takes you through the history of architectural evolution
  • Covers avant-garde styles from the 1900s to today
  • Dedicated to the disestablishment of mainstream, dogmatic modernism
  • Includes interviews with legendary architects like Charles Moore, Peter Eisenman, and Michael Graves
  • Detailed, engaging content geared towards students and fans of architecture
  • Written by Fehilly Brasile, the Dean of the School of Architecture at The Cooper Union

Cons:

  • Not for absolute beginners
  • Can be at times overly theoretical, making the text hard to follow
  • Slightly expensive

The once-radical ideas and styles discussed in this book are now widely referred to as postmodernism. This book is an in-depth survey of the international architectural movements that emerged after modernism. The book covers the emergence and influence of architectural styles such as postmodernism, deconstructivism, and deconstructivism, among others.

It also talks about the philosophy that informed those movements, including poststructuralism, feminist theory, and cultural theory. And how these ideas are reflected in the architectural styles of today. These studies and analyses result in an engaging narrative that draws from more than 350 sources. The book also includes an extensive interview section with architects such as Charles Moore, Peter Eisenman, and Michael Graves.

47. Drawings and Plans of Frank Lloyd Wright: The Early Period

Our rating: 5 / 10

Drawings and Plans of Frank Lloyd Wright: The Early Period

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Pros:

  • A top Dover classic
  • Features 37 drawings
  • Includes Wright's Oak Park-based drawings, such as the Unity Temple and Pope-Leighey House
  • Includes exterior and interior drawings
  • Made to Yellowing pages
  • Includes a foreword by Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer

Cons:

  • Strong adherence to a non-historicist, anti-academic design tradition
  • Notable predilection towards open floorplans
  • An example of the limited scale of his early efforts
  • Notable absence of work from the 1910s

Frank Lloyd Wright was one of the most influential and prominent architects of the 20th century. In addition to designing buildings and organizations which are still used by hundreds of thousands of people, he also created thousands of drawings and plans. The collection of 37 drawings in this book include sketches and it has a foreword written by Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer.

The drawings are of work from Wright's Oak Park-based architectural practice, and such works included Unity Temple, Barker House, and the Robie House. The book also contains sketches of the homes he designed for private clients, such as Robert Owen's Ebro district residence.

48. Architecture in Italy

Our rating: 5 / 10

Architecture in Italy

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49. Architecture of First Societies: A Global Perspective

Our rating: 5 / 10

Architecture of First Societies: A Global Perspective

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Pros:

  • Comprehensive
  • Focused, structured and sequential
  • Offers a special methodical assistance in studying

Cons:

  • Cost can be too high for a beginner
  • Every chapter ends with a practice test, but the answers are not included

This book is a reference for anyone interested to study about the architecture of various cultures and traditions of this world’s cultures. The book is focused on the particular aspects of each culture and tradition, the author trying to depict the book as the facts of the entities as they are.

The book is enriched with over 300 illustrations, paintings, diagrams, and maps. It also uses both the traditional ones as the use of the modern digital media. The intended target of the book is the use of it in colleges and universities for the educational purposes. However, everyone interested in the subject can be a target of the book.

The book is structured in a special way, giving a special order to the readers, starting from one subject to another. It is made in such a way to give the book students book a better guidance in their lessons. The structure of the book is helping the students to develop a habit and ability to approach the subject independent of somebody’s help.

50. Architecture and Violence

Our rating: 4 / 10

Architecture and Violence

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Pros:

  • Highly rated book on architecture
  • Covers architecture, war, and violence.
  • Good for designers, architects, and historians.
  • Amazon best-seller
  • Editor's pick among architecture books

Cons:

  • Does not allow the reader to make an opinion
  • No clear conclusion
  • Not fitting for all audiences
  • Confusing topic
  • Might not grab people's attention, because of the name

Identifying the best architecture books can be tough as just about anyone can make a prediction on the best architecture books. What people don’t know, is that architecture is the study of design and construction of buildings. This field has many history books, equating this famous art with time itself. Architecture is one of the oldest professions, where professional architects have built many of the most famous landmarks and monuments on Earth.

The study of the best architecture books can depend on a few factors, such as length of time that has passed the memory. Architecture will also have history books that combine the architecture with locations, like the Great Lakes region. Architecture has an interesting correlation, in regards to time, but one thing for certain, is that all of the books provide a memoir of some type.

Conclusion

While books on architecture, interior design, and urban design can be very similar in their general layout, there is no single best book on architecture. The best architecture book depends largely on what type of book you're looking for, whether it be general information for beginners, or far more specific information. We hope this list will serve as a useful guide for anyone who wants to learn more about architecture. Please feel free to leave a review, as it will help others find this guide.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented ArchitectureBest OverallBrunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture
The Ten Books On ArchitectureBudget PickThe Ten Books On Architecture
Architecture of the Sun: Los Angeles Modernism 1900-1970Upgrade PickArchitecture of the Sun: Los Angeles Modernism 1900-1970