BY Eugenia Bell in Frieze | 17 SEP 08

Back to School

New and notable architecture and design books being released by English-language publishers this autumn

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BY Eugenia Bell in Frieze | 17 SEP 08

New and notable architecture and design books being released by English-language publishers this autumn.

Architecture

Conditions – Snøhetta: Architecture. Interior. Landscape.
Snøhetta eds (Lars Müller)

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It was no small achievement when Norwegian firm Snøhetta was commissioned to design the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt, a remarkably ambitious project to resurrect the ancient Library of Alexandria near the site of the original. In spite of the grand scale and statement of that project, the firm’s work delicately straddles architecture, interiors and landscape design in a wholly relevant way. There aren’t many firms today that have had more successes than failures, but the underknown Snøhetta is one of them. Lars Müller is publishing their beautiful monograph – the first from the firm.

Drafting Culture: A Social History of Architectural Graphics Standards
George Barnett Johnston (MIT Press)

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First published in 1932 and now in its 11th edition (which includes a CD of CAD files), Architectural Graphics Standards is the reference book for those in the trade – it is simply taken for granted that every practicing architect owns the latest edition. This history of Charles Ramsey and Harold Sleeper’s ‘draftsman’s Bible’ constitutes an account of the gradual shift architecture took from pre- and interwar vocation to post-war academic-based profession. An honest, detailed investigation of the generational change in an oddly unreflective field.

Also: Writings on Architecture, Adam Caruso (Poligrafa); Stephan Jaklitsch: Habits, Patterns, Algorithms, 1998–2004, Oscar Riera Ojeda, ed. (Oro Editions).

Urbanism

I am a Monument: On Learning from Las Vegas
Aron Vinegar (MIT Press)

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Published in 1972, Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour’s Learning from Las Vegas – which argued for the virtues of the ‘ordinary’ over the ‘heroic’ – remains one of the most influential and controversial books about architecture and urbanism and carried architectural debate into the public mind. In I am a Monument, Aron Vinegar argues that Learning from Las Vegas transcends its historical and theoretical origins and is in fact highly relevant to today’s architectural and visual culture. The most unusual – and perhaps most interesting – aspect of Vinegar’s book is his dissection of the design of the original edition (by Muriel Cooper) and Denise Scott Brown’s revised 1977 edition. A must.

Also: Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity, Marc Augé / revised edition (Verso).

Technology

The Inner History of Devices
Sherry Turkle (MIT Press)

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Sherry Turkle is an expert in investigating how technology enters our lives and is absorbed into our psyches. Using personal history, analysis and anthropology, this ‘intimate ethnography’ explores what so deeply connects humans to their machines, and why.

Graphic Design and Typography

Drawing is Thinking
Milton Glaser (The Overlook Press)

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Nearly 200 pages of illustrations that walk the reader through the working process of the creator of the iconic I ♥ NY logo. To Milton Glaser, drawing is not simply representational but experiential. Elegant and fun.

Talking About Arabic
Mourad Boutros (Mark Batty)
English and French speakers are no longer alone in the ring when the argument over the prevailing lingua franca erupts. Where I lived in London, knowing Yoruba or Vietnamese would have served me better than English; here in New York City, some command of Spanish is now practically expected of residents. Increasingly, though, for reasons obvious and not entirely fortunate, the value of being familiar with the Arabic language and its culture is evident. This book should be required reading for anyone with even a modicum of interest in typography and design, and especially in the cultural sources and the contemporary applications of such. Mourad Boutros discusses everything from Arabic branding to religious and secular standards to traditional Arabic calligraphy.

Biography

Le Corbusier: A Life
Nicholas Fox Weber (Knopf)
Nicholas Fox Weber, the director of the Josef & Anni Albers Foundation brings readers the first full biography of the most admired and maligned architect and planner of the 20th century. When every document of Corbusier’s working life has been published (from the sublime paint pallettes from Birkhauser to Phaidon’s almost vulgar Le Corbusier Le Grand), a cogent, traditional biography seems the right reaction to the visual overload, especially of the last decade.

Eugenia Bell is design editor of frieze

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