Summer Reading for Architects…

I have to be up front that I rarely read books about architecture, in fact I avoid them at all costs.  I am probably the only architect alive who hated The Fountainhead;  I tried to like it, I really did.  I put forth a concerted effort to be a fan of the iconic architecture book, but it just didn’t do it for me.  I am not even sure I was able to get through the whole thing.  I think I read about 3/4 of it and then did a Wikipedia search for the spoiler on the rest of the story.  The whole experience was somewhat anti-climactic for me.

That said, I was reading my most recent DWELL magazine the other night and came across their Beach Reading page and thought it was really funny.  Given that I am no fan of fiction architecture books ( I even tried to get through Devil in the White City, although the whole serial killer element kind of eeked me out), I found their spoofs to be comical and good for a laugh.  So, thank you DWELL Magazine for your contribution to my post today and for writing an article that touched the heart of disgruntled architects everywhere who refuse to read fictionalized accounts of their daily grind.  Enjoy!

Thanks Dwell Magazine!

The DeBuilding Code, by Dan Brownstone

Robert Leverhouse, architecture professor, receives an urgent late-night call: The contractor hired to gut renovate his Carroll Gardens home has been murdered!  Scattered around the body near the hopelessly dated kitchen island is a series of baffling archival blueprints.  At Stumptown, Leverhouse meets up-and-coming urban planner Susan Scone, and the two follow an increasingly arcane trail of mystery.  Was the dead man part of a secret society named the Priory of Sub-Contractors?  Did he sacrifice his own life to protect the unseen forces driving the Environmental Review Board?  Leverhouse and Scone must untangle the labyrinthine mystery of the DeBuilding Code before millions of lives are put in danger. 

The Girl with the De Meuron Tattoo, by Stig Lardons

Thirty years ago, a scion of one of Switzerland’s wealthiest families disappeared after dining with the resident of the Blue House in Oberwil.  Seeking the truth of what happened that night, her aged uncle hire Michael Gruyere, a revered design critic for Neue Zurcher Zeitung, to put together the pieces.  After a chance meeting at the VitraHaus, Gruyere teams up with parametric-modeling whiz kid and Harvard GSD grad Lesley Salamander.  What begins as a small-town Swiss mystery leads into an astonishing vortex of design-world corruption – and a sinister plan to win architectural commissions from Beijing to Bond Street.

The Bauhaus Diet, by Myles Vanderole, MD

It’s bathing suit season!  If you find yourself wondering, “What is the objective function of this bathing costume?” the Bauhaus Diet is for you.  It’s all about living well and loving what you don’t eat.  It’s mercurial, essentialist, and ruthlessly effective.  Phase 1 is designed to eliminate cravings for residential rococo, the Starbucke Trenta Latte, and conversational digression.  Phase 2 produces steady weight loss by curating the “negative space” in your gut.  You stay in Phase 2 until you begin to resemble a young silver prince or princess.  Next is Phase 3, the Machine Aesthetic, where you’ll not just study but actually become a perfect form.  Your body will be a straight line, your face, a flawless, impenetrable surface – the ultimate synthesis of art, craft, technology, and biology.

The Heiress and Handyman, by Daniel Steel

Tex Boone is a former rodeo star, now a drifter, a lone wolf, and a highly skilled handyman.  He’s ruggedly handsome, with an untamed heart – and relenting abs.  When beautiful but lonely Bay Area heiress Serena Dellacourt hires him to renovate the guest bathroom in her mid-century hillside home in Sausalito, sparks and sawdust fly.  It is a forbidden love, with passions that burn twice as hot as the Italian kiln that fired her new Bisazza tiles.  Tex discovers that even a loner can find love.  But is Serena the type of woman who’s really ready to renovate?  Only her heart, and the tilework, will tell.

Images and articles courtesy of dwell magazine and author Heather Wagner and Illustrator Daniel Carlsten (Dwell Magazine, June 2011, p. 100-101)


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  1. I agree 100%

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