“Book Briefs” are an ongoing series of posts with two- or three-sentence first-hand descriptions of some of the numerous books that make their way into my library. These briefs are not full-blown reviews, but they are a way to share more books worthy of attention than can find their way into reviews on this blog.
Embodied Energy and Design: Making Architecture between Metrics and Narratives edited by David Benjamin | Columbia University GSAPP, Lars Müller Publishers | 2017 | Amazon
In April 2016, Columbia GSAPP held the Embodied Energy and Design symposium, which aimed to frame embodied energy “in the context of broader design ecosystems and architectural issues.” This book collects the papers from that symposium, interspersing them with “material stories” that illustrate the questions architects should be asking about the sources, energy, and production of their buildings, focusing on concrete, steel, and wood. As energy use in the operation of buildings decreases but the energy required to build them increases, this book points architects in the right direction — if not answering every question.
Naïve Intention by Pezo von Ellrichshausen | Actar | 2018 | Amazon
During Wiel Arets’s brief tenure as dean of at IIT’s College of Architecture, he produced many books, some of them related to MCHAP (Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize). Pezo von Ellrichshausen were recipients of the MCHAP’s inaugural Emerging Architecture prize, an award and teaching position that led to this book. Its’ a small but lovely book made up primarily of single-page color photos of the duo’s architecture and art (the latter not as impressive, to me, as the former, though the two aren’t always easy to distinguish). The images follow a short, verbose essay on the apparently contradictory statement of the book’s title — a phrase that guides the production of the architects/artists.
Radical: 50 Latin American Architectures by Miquel Adrià, Andrea Griborio | Arquine | 2017 | Amazon
This handsome book collects 50 built works by 50 architects under 50 years old. Although the majority of the projects are from just a few countries (Chile, Colombia, Mexico), most Latin American countries are included. In other words, the architectural quality in the region is rampant. Projects are numbered 1 through 50 and documented through text, drawings, and photos. The book is split into two halves (quite literally, with differently sized pages and types of paper), with project text and photos in the first half, following an essay by Miquel Adrià, and color photos in the second half. The book’s layout means readers have to flip back and forth to fully absorb each building, a necessity made easier through clear numbering and simple, straightforward page design.
Remembering Places: A Memoir by Joseph Rykwert | Routledge | 2017 | Amazon
An architectural historian is an unlikely candidate for a memoir (will Kenneth Frampton be next?), but Rykwert’s upbringing in a Jewish family in Warsaw before and during the time of Hitler makes for some fascinating reading, at least for fans of the historian and the type of history he recounts. Composed as small episodes that can be dipped into now and then, Rykwert admits at the end that “more than a half century has passed since the last episodes I reported.” So, is a followup covering the remainder of his life in the works?
The Social Imperative: Architecture and the City in China edited by H. Koon Wee | Actar | 2017 | Amazon
“Architecture and the city in China” is a massive topic befitting nearly infinite — or 1.4 billion — viewpoints. Accordingly, the contributions to The Social Imperative are many, by many of the biggest names in Chinese architecture, such as Wang Shu, Dong Gong (Vector Architects), Li Hu (OPEN Architecture Office), Ma Qingyun (MADA s.p.a.m.), and Zhang Ke (standardarchitecture), as well as a small number from outside of China. The myriad contributions are fitted into eight chapters with titles such as “Laboring,” “Networking,” and “Rationalizing.” They follow editor H. Koon Wee’s long essay (“Spatial Limits of Socialist China”) born from a three-year study of social issues and architecture in China.
The Vitra Schaudepot: Architecture, Ideas, Objects edited by Mateo Kries, Viviane Stappmanns | Vitra Design Museum | 2017 | Amazon
Since the Vitra Design Museum’s 2014 publication of The Vitra Campus — a guide to its buildings designed by Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Herzog & de Meuron, and others — the furniture maker added yet another building to its collection: HdM’s Schaudepot. Billed as “the world’s largest permanent exhibition of modern furniture design,” the book is about 80 percent furniture and 20 percent architecture, making the book more for fans of chairs than buildings — or for the many people that are fans of both.