Unpacking My Library


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Architects and Their Books

Edited by Jo Steffens; Featuring an essay by Walter Benjamin

View Inside Format: HC - Paper over Board
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“I am unpacking my library. Yes, I am. . . . Be ready to share with me a bit of the mood—it is certainly not an elegiac mood but, rather, one of anticipation—which these books arouse in a genuine collector. . . . What I am really concerned with is giving you some insight into the relationship of a book collector to his possessions, into collecting rather than a collection.”Walter Benjamin, 1931

What does a library say about the mind of its owner? How do books map the intellectual interests, curiosities, tastes, and personalities of their readers? What does the collecting of books have in common with the practice of architecture? Unpacking My Library provides an intimate look at the personal libraries of twelve of the world’s leading architects, alongside conversations about the significance of books to their careers and lives.

Photographs of bookshelvesdisplaying well-loved and rare volumes, eclectic organizational schemes, and the individual touches that make a bookshelf one’s ownprovide an evocative glimpse of their owner’s personal life. Each architect also presents a reading list of top ten influential titles, from architectural history to theory to fiction and nonfiction, that serves as a personal philosophy of literature and history, and advice on what every young architect, scholar, and lover of architecture should read.

An inspiring cross-section of notable libraries, this beautiful book celebrates the arts of reading and collecting.

Unpacking My Library: Architects and Their Books features the libraries of:

Stan Allen

Henry Cobb

Liz Diller & Ric Scofidio

Peter Eisenman

Michael Graves

Steven Holl

Toshiko Mori

Michael Sorkin

Bernard Tschumi

Todd Williams & Billie Tsien

Peter Eisenman’s Recommended Titles:

Robert Musil, The Man Without Qualities

Le Corbusier, Vers une Architecture

Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow

Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture

Rem Koolhaas, Delirious New York

Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology

Andrea Palladio, The Four Books on Architecture

Walter Benjamin, Illuminations

James Joyce, Finnegans Wake

William Faulkner, Light in August

Published in association with Urban Center Books, The Architecture Bookstore of the Municipal Art Society of New York

Jo Steffens is director of Urban Center Books and editor of Block by Block: Jane Jacobs and the Future of New York City.

"My favorite new title. . . . Unpacking hints at the personalities and polemics of top architects, and it infers that all architects should keep their minds nimble by reading--not just by flipping through picture books, but by consuming criticism, history, and even literature."--Ned Cramer, Editor-in-Chief, Architect Magazine

"Wonderful. . . . Ideal reading, or a solid stocking stuffer, for design geeks and bibliophiles alike."--Dwell

"Fascinating and full of surprises."—Kenneth Baker, The San Francisco Chronicle (Holiday Gift Guide: Art Books)

Editor's Selection, RIBA Journal

"It will make ideal reading, or a solid stocking stuffer, for design geeks and bibliophiles alike."—Aaron Britt, dwell.com

"I'm glad for the sharing in this book, be it recommended books or brief glimpses at large collections. They all have the opportunity to influence those flipping through this book on books."—John Hill, Archidose.org

Gift suggestion from Metropolis Magazine's (metropolismag.com) Holiday Gift Guide for the 2009 season.

"Each chapter is a deeply personal intrusion—if in no way an oppressive one—into the subject's artistic life. The books expose the architects' personalities nearly as much as their built projects. . . . At 8 inches by 5.5, the book is marvelously handle-able, and the best stocking stuffer ever for the bibliophile."—Robert Messenger, The Barnes & Noble Review

"A highly entertaining and intriguing book."--Otto Saumarez-Smith, BD

"The book is both a visual and intellectual treat." —Alan Bishort, Sunday Republican

This is a well-written and enjoyable book, and one that affords the reader a snapshot of the collections and influences of a group of important architects."—Graeme Brooker, The Art Book

Selected by Omnivoracious, an Amazon.com blog, as one of the Best One of a Kind Book Covers of 2009

Selected for the 2009 Holiday Gift Guide, Kenneth Baker, The San Francisco Chronicle

ISBN: 9780300158939
Publication Date: November 30, 2009
Publishing Partner: Published in association with Urban Center Books, The Architecture Bookstore of the Municipal Art Society of New York
192 pages, 8 x 5 1/2
24 b/w + 284 color illus.
Unpacking My Library

Artists and Their Books

Edited by Jo Steffens and Matthias Neumann

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