Best Architecture Book Reviews 2018

Are you a student, beginner or professional architect in need of an architecture book to hone your skills? With so many relevant books published by various authors, picking the best design book can be difficult. It’s for this reason we’ve researched the highest-rated architecture books, and chosen five of the best ones for you. Otherwise, check out our reviews of physics, biology and astronomy books if you’re stocking up your academic bookshelf.
Overview
PROS
CONS
SPECS
Content Type
Audience
Format
Pages
Publish Date
Our Top Choice
William J. R. Curtis Modern Architecture Since 1900
William J. R. Curtis has been writing for many years and focuses on twentieth century architecture.
Revised 3rd edition. Seven new chapters with a wide variety of new world architecture. Easy to read and comprehend. Has colored illustrations.
Requires effort and involvement from the reader.
Modern, 20th century architecture
Mass
Hardcover, paperback
736 Pages
June 1996
Best Value
Stephanie Travis Architecture Sketching Book
Stephanie Travis is well educated and experienced in the field of architecture and is currently an associate professor and director.
Comprehensive guide with illustrations. Ideal for professionals and learners. Has relevant examples. Features simple designs and complex structures.
It isn’t super detailed.
Architectural drawing
Professionals, students
Paperback
127 pages
August 4, 2015
Francis D. K. Ching Architecture: Form, Space, and Order
Francis D. K. Ching is a Professor Emeritus who has published over a dozen books on architecture and design graphics.
Well organized. Illustrated. Language is architectural. Encourages architectural thinking. New trends featured.
Font is too small for some.
Architectural design
Professionals, students
Hardcover, paperback, Kindle
464 pages
September 29, 2014
Kate Stohr Design Like You Give A Damn
Kate Stohr is a co-founder of Architecture for Humanity, an organization that helps communities in need of architectural services.
Well illustrated with color photographs. Is easy to understand. Has comprehensive design samples. Offers solutions to architectural problems. Promotes sustainable architecture.
Projects aren’t fully explained.
Architecture and society
Mass
Paperback
336 pages
May 2012
Lee J. Ames Draw 50 Buildings & Other Structures Book
Lee J. Ames was an artist highly renowned for his Draw 50 books, aimed at helping children and beginners learn to draw different things.
Ideal for children. Easy to follow and understand. Has clear illustrations. Has drawings from all over the world.
Not highly detailed, thus, basic.
Drawing techniques
Mass
Paperback, Kindle
64 pages
December 2012

(Updated )
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Watch Our Architecture Book Review

How Do I Choose the Best Architecture Book?

Architects are known to be collectors of books and other literary materials. This is because the field of architecture is varied and innovative. The thought process of design invokes the needs that certain communities have, their location, the weather, the materials around them, and so much more. Often, it’s simply the creativity of the architect himself or herself that makes all the difference.

Collecting books, whether reference and specification or Brunelleschi’s Dome Renaissance, helps an architect gather relevant knowledge in the field and see how other people in the field think. Reading books also helps expand the knowledge base and think globally, because people in different regions have different architectural needs and tastes.

Architecture books such as Young Frank Architect Viva also help provide solutions to problems that face different societies all over the world. Architecture books are not only meant for amateurs, but also professional architects. There are also books for people who have an interest in architecture or for students and beginners in the industry. These books provide the aspiring or interested parties with the motivation that’s necessary to succeed in the field of architecture.

They also provide the basics required for making it in the industry, such as making sketches, understanding 3D, space and form, vocabulary in architecture and so much more. Some of the books are directed toward children, to kindle their interest or nurture those that already have interest in structures and how they come together. The Brand Gap Distance Business Strategy is also a handy book for architects if you wanted to check it out.
Price
Knowledge is priceless and that’s for sure. This means you can’t put a price on a book that offers you important and relevant knowledge in your field. Architecture books come at different prices, which basically depend on how much content is offered in the book and the research that has gone into making it. Lots of color photographs will also drive up the price.

Very cheap architecture books might not provide you with much information, or they could be meant for children. Check out the content of the book before deciding whether it’s worth the price tag or not. That said, we found good architecture books in the price range of $10 to $100, depending on the type, content and format.
Features
Architecture books are industry-specific, although some can be a bit basic or general. The most important feature to look out for is the content, to ensure that it is relevant for what you need. The number of pages, quality of content and professional level it’s meant for are also important. Your budget and what you’re willing to pay for any given book is also a consideration.

Here are the important features to look at in architecture books:
  • Good illustrations for better comprehension
  • Comprehensiveness and good thought process
  • Easy to read with many examples
  • Samples arranged from simple to complex designs
  • Appropriate font size for you
  • Knowledgeable authors
  • Content type and professional level or audience
  • Number of pages and date of publication
With the right architecture books, you won’t just learn new concepts, but also hone your existing design skills.
Construction and Design
There's a lot of things to consider when it comes to choosing an architecture book, but we're here to help you on your way.

Content Type

There is so much that’s involved in architecture. Some books focus on general concepts of architecture, making them ideal for students and beginners in the industry. Architecture books may also focus on architectural styles to detail the different styles available. Other books focus on the history of architecture and architectural styles in different regions, taking you back to when certain architectural styles emerged.

There are also books on modern architecture, which entirely focus on the architectural designs in vogue now, while others are on traditional architecture. If you want content on how to do different things in architecture, such as making sketches, shading, designing, and more, you’ll also be in for a treat as such books are widely available. Others will teach you how to do graphics and much more. The choice of the book depends on the kind of information you want.

Audience

Not all books are meant for the professionals in the industry. Some are meant for children and others are for students or beginners. The content of the book determines what audience it is best suited for. For instance, a book with basic drawings and simple words would be suitable for children, while a book explaining complex issues in architecture, or linking architecture with society, would be suitable for seasoned architects.

Some architecture books are also specific to certain regions. For instance, a book focusing on US architecture could be best for someone who works, or wants to work, as an architect in the US.

Author

Not all writers are made equal and not everyone can write. Architecture writers should be people who have been in the industry for some time and understand what architecture is. There are many renowned writers who have published over three dozen books on architecture. The choice of the writer might be down to preference, but some are more recommendable than others. This is generally due to the experience they have in the industry and how well they can communicate with their audience.

Pages

The number of pages is also an important consideration when choosing an architecture book. It might give you an idea of the scope of the content. A book with a smaller number of pages might be shallow and not expound on the subject as much as you would want it to. On the other hand, some large books might contain irrelevant information when you need a quick reference. The choice, again, depends on the scope of information you require.

Publish Date

Architecture is a dynamic industry and there are changes occurring all the time. The first publishing date gives you an idea of the kind of architecture the book could have focused on. There are, however, some topics that are timeless, hence their publishing dates might not be a deciding factor. For instance, two books on history written now and ten years ago might have mostly the same content. If you need to keep up with modern architectural information, it’s important to get more recent books.
Performance and Ease of Use
Architecture books usually come with illustrations so you can easily read and comprehend their content. If the book is a “how to” book, it will have clear instructions supported by illustrations and drawings. Visuals are also important to help you understand architectural concepts. The font used in the book and the clarity of the pictures also make it easier to read. A good book is also relevant and meets your intended use.

What is the Best Architecture Book?

Choose a book with the number of pages you need or can handle. Make sure your chosen architecture book is relevant to your job or studies, and can meet your specific needs. Find out if one of our recommended architecture books is the one you need.
Our Top Choice
William J. R. Curtis’s book, Modern Architecture Since 1900, is a deep analysis of the origin of modern architectural designs. Looking for a book that focuses on the pioneer of modern architecture as we know it? Opt for Le Corbusier by William J. R. Curtis.
William J. R. Curtis Modern Architecture Since 1900 3rd Edition with 736 Pages and 7 New Chapters

William J. R Curtis Architecture - 978-0714833569


Features
William J. R. Curtis was born in 1948, in England. He is an architectural historian and author, whose writings are focused on modern, twentieth-century architecture. He is well educated, having gone through Courtauld School of Art and Harvard University. He has won a medal of commemoration, and his book, Modern Architecture Since 1900, has won two awards.

William J. R. Curtis’s book, Modern Architecture Since 1900, is in the 3rd edition. The revised version has seen an inclusion of seven new chapters. In these chapters, Curtis has broadened his knowledge to give you his opinion on the new world architecture as we know it today. What will capture your attention even more is how he has integrated the evolution of modern architecture with culture, showing how culture influences architecture.

If you want to know what qualities give outstanding buildings their lasting value, you need to read this book because the author focuses on that throughout. This is also included in the previous editions of the book. If you’re looking for a book with a wide scope, then the book is for you. It has a worldwide scope, focusing on different continents such as Asia, Europe and America.

Reading an architecture book only makes sense if you’re able to understand the marvels of architecture and design being spoken about. The book features colored illustrations you can look at and easily comprehend what the author is talking about. Moreover, the illustrations make it easy to scan through the book when you want a quick reference on some of the structures.

Here are some other William J. R. Curtis architecture books you might be interested in:
  • Le Corbusier: Ideas and Forms – Focuses on Le Corbusier’s career
  • Balkrishna Doshi: An Architecture For India – Focuses on Indian Architecture
  • Denys Lasdun: Architecture, City, Landscape – Focuses on Denys Lasdun’s career
Best Value
Stephanie Travis’s book, Sketching for Architecture + Interior Design, helps students and professionals enhance their hand-sketching skills. Prefer an urban sketching handbook? Consider The Urban Sketching Handbook by Stephanie Bower to better understand on-site sketching.
Stephanie Travis Sketching for Architecture & Interior Design Book Reprint Edition with illustrations

Stephanie Travis Architecture Book 978-1780675640


Features
Stephanie Travis is a well-educated author who is currently the Director of the Interior Architecture and Design Program at George Washington University. She has a Masters of Architecture, and has been involved in writing articles and presentations for international conferences on topics that really interest her, such as design pedagogy.

Sketching is a really important skill for architects. This is because it is the skill they use to create their designs from the ground up. If you’re an architect looking to hone your skills in sketching, you’ll find the book invaluable. It comes with hand-drawn illustrations to show you how to make simple sketches as the basis for creating your designs.

Stephanie Travis’s book, Sketching for Architecture + Interior Design, is easy to comprehend as it’s not only full of illustrations, but is also well structured. It starts by featuring simple concepts that are sketched further into more complex designs. You’ll enjoy this book as you see your basic skills develop to an advanced level.

Ideal for learning skills in interior design as well, the book showcases three-dimensional sketches for furniture and other aspects of interior design. With this architecture book, you’ll be able to hone various skills such as proper sketching, shade, perspectives, layering and many other design skills for making perfect sketches.

The book also enhances quick learning by providing you with many examples good sketches. You’ll find that many examples of sketches in interior spaces and architecture are the work of Stephanie Travis. The book is simple with easy to understand, step-by-step guides accompanied by illustrations suitable for beginners and professionals.
Francis D. K. Ching’s book, Architecture: Form, Space, and Order, is a comprehensive book on architectural design for professionals and students. Are you looking for a book that will put the basics underlying building and construction into perspective? Building Construction Illustrated is the book for you.
Francis D. K. Ching Architecture: Form, Space, and Order Book 4th Edition with Illustrations

Francis D. K. Ching Architecture Book 978-1118745083


Features
Francis D. K. Ching was born in 1943, in Hawaii. He has taught at various universities. At the start of his career, he used to make hand-drawn and hand-lettered notes for architectural graphics. Later, these notes were published to become one of his books. He is currently a Professor Emeritus at the University of Washington. Ching has published thirteen books so far, all focusing on architecture and graphic design.

Francis D. K. Ching’s book, Architecture: Form, Space, and Order, is a wonder for design enthusiasts, whether they’re beginners, students or professionals. The book uses architectural language all through, hence ideal if you’re looking to learn architectural vocabulary. You don’t want a book that leaves you hanging or feeling incomplete. The book is comprehensive with 464 pages well worth your time.

When it comes to architectural studies, illustrations are important. You need to see what’s being discussed to appreciate and properly understand it. The book features hand-drawn sketches by Ching himself. The illustrations in the book are easy to understand, as they’re clearly explained in simple language. Actually, these are the sketches Ching uses to teach his students when lecturing at the university.

Thinking in 3D is essential when you are an architect. You need to see things exactly as they are, and how you want them to be. The book helps to put three dimensions into perspective. It’s also invaluable if you want to understand form and shape, and how they’re brought to life. With proper understanding of space and form, you’re guaranteed a good architectural foundation for your career.

Here are a few other architecture books by Francis D. K.. Ching you might like:
  • A Global History of Architecture – Focuses on origins of architecture globally
  • Drawing: A Creative Process – Focuses on turning ideas into drawings
  • Interior Design Illustrated – Focuses on interior design
Kate Stohr’s book, Design Like You Give A Damn: Building Change from the Ground Up, features over one hundred case studies from around the world. If you’re looking for a book that addresses humanitarian crises, such as housing and lack of amenities, using architectural solutions, opt for Design Like You Give a Damn: Architectural Responses to Humanitarian Crises, by the same author.
Kate Stohr Design Like You Give A Damn: Building Change from the Ground Up Architecture Book

Kate Stohr Architecture Book 978-0810997029


Features
Kate Stohr is a data scientist, a journalist and a community builder. She is a co-founder and director of the Architecture for Humanity organization, which focuses on designing and constructing projects with the capability to impact the lives of needy local communities. Currently, she’s also working for Data Scientist, an organization she founded on her own. She is a brilliant mind and has been involved in many construction projects.

Kate Stohr’s book, Design Like You Give A Damn: Building Change from the Ground Up, isn’t just for professional architects, but also people who want to see how architectural designs can help change humanity. The book showcases over one hundred case studies from around the world. They have seen architectural design change the lives of the communities in need of proper housing, education, health and other such aspects of society.

Written to foster sustainability in architecture, the book showcases how you can incorporate readily available materials from the area you’re in for your architectural projects. It also shows the use of innovative materials in designing and constructing architectural marvels from the ground up.

Society and architecture are inseparable. Different societies all over the world survive due to their architectural design, which you’ll learn about in this book. To help you more clearly comprehend the marvels of architecture around the world, the book comes with color illustrations to ensure you can see what’s being discussed.

With the influx of populations in certain places, housing becomes insufficient and leads to the growth of slums. Disasters are bound to become dangerous and impactful in such places. The book addresses the problems of such residents, presenting solutions on how they could live better and access all necessary amenities. It also presents solutions for disasters in terms of emergency housing.
Lee J. Ames’s book, Draw 50 Buildings and Other Structures, is a simple, step-by-step guide for everyone. Opt for Draw the Draw 50 Way: How to Draw Cats, Puppies, Horses, Buildings, Birds, Aliens, Boats, Trains, and Everything Else Under the Sun, by Lee J. Ames, if you want a book to teach you to draw almost anything.
Lee J. Ames Draw 50 Buildings and Other Structures: The Step-by-Step Way to Draw Castles and Cathedrals

Lee J. Ames Architecture Book 978-0823086046


Features
Lee J. Ames was born in Manhattan in 1921. He got his first job at the age of eighteen at the Disney studios. He was an artist and cartoonist renowned for his Draw 50 book series, in which he teaches readers to draw different things. The Draw 50 book series has thirty books on how to draw structures, vehicles, animals, athletes, caricatures, famous faces, cartoons, and so much more.

The importance of exceptional sketching skills for an architect goes without saying. This book can help you learn to draw some of the most iconic buildings and structures from all over the world. With structures such as the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower, Golden Gate Bridge and the Torri gate, among many others featured in the book, only the sky is the limit.

Drawing books can be complicated if they’re accompanied by complex instructions. The book keeps everything really simple so even a kid can follow them. The instructions are not overly wordy, and since they’re supported by drawings, the book is easy to use. You’ll be able to see and comprehend what’s required of you every step of the way.

Most design books are hard to follow because they quickly transition from simple to complex drawings. In this book, the author takes this worry off your back. He has ensured the steps in the book are easy to follow from the moment you start sketching to when your structure comes to life. New lines in each step are indicated using bold lines, so it’s easy to follow the example as you draw your structure.

Here are a few other drawing books by Lee J. Ames to consider:
  • The Dot, Line and Shape Connection, Or, How to Be Driven to Abstraction – Teaching the basics of art
  • Draw, Draw, Draw – On the basics of drawing
  • Draw 50 Airplanes, Aircraft & Spacecraft – For drawing all kinds of flying things

Get the Best Architecture Book of 2018!

Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned architect, or simply looking for a kid-friendly architecture book, or a gift for your loved ones, there’s one out there for you. We hope this guide was helpful and you were able to find a suitable architecture book for you. In case you need something different, check out our reviews of astronomy books.

Our Top Choice
William J. R. Curtis Modern Architecture Since 1900
Best Value
Stephanie Travis Architecture Sketching Book
Francis D. K. Ching Architecture: Form, Space, and Order
Kate Stohr Design Like You Give A Damn
Lee J. Ames Draw 50 Buildings & Other Structures Book