Summer Reading List

Summer Reading List

With summer in full swing, we again share our book recommendations for the architecturally-inclined.


By: Italo Calvino

Italo Calvino is a classic author for architects and there is no doubt that if you went to architecture school you ran across his writing. Cosmicomics is a collection of 12 short stories in which the point of departure begins with a scientific statement that typically expands into a whimsical tale beyond your imagination. The first short story, The Distance of the Moon (represented above by Shannon May Illustration), is by far the most well-known, and my personal favorite out of the 12 stories. The story describes a love triangle between people who boated and climbed their way onto the Moon to mine the mysterious surface during certain tidal flows. The moon begins to drift further away from the Earth making it more difficult to traverse the distance until… well, you’ll have to read the story. If you want your mind to travel to unexpected places, this collection of short stories will take you far far away.

101 Things I Learned In Urban Design School

By: Matthew Frederick & Vikas Mehta

A complement to the rigorous studio education, 101 Things I Learned In Urban Design School emphasizes a practical approach to designing for the urban and pedestrian experience. An addition to the 101 Things I Learned… series, pragmatic lessons are presented alongside psychological discourse for a holistic understanding of the public realm to better equip architects will the tools needed to design. The book provides snapshots of physical tips and cognitive understanding of human behavior, like how to draw a one-point perspective of a street and our inclination to look for an exit upon arrival to a new place. While not a deep read, this book highlights important considerations as we think more about how we shape our urban environments. Our firm’s commitment to thoughtfully help shape the public realm makes this book a must read.

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America

By: Erik Larson

Recanting the design, politics, and scandals of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, The Devil in the White City is a mischievous story derived from historical facts. Concurrently telling the story of legendary architect Daniel Burnham and America’s first serial killer Dr. Henry H Holmes, the, at times, gruesome tale details the planning of the fairgrounds and its impact on the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago, which Dr. Holmes capitalized on for his murders. Famous names like Louis Sullivan, Frederick Law Olmstead, and Sophia Hayden come to life as the White City, so named for its universal use of plaster in the Beaux Arts style, sprouts on the banks of Lake Michigan. The reader is immersed in two very different tales: one of dreams and wonder, the other of cunning terror. You will feel like you are reading an American fantasy but in fact you are recounting history.