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Unpacking My Library: Architects and Their Books (Unpacking My Library Series) Hardcover – November 30, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
The experience is predictably labyrinthine. No surprise that we often bump into the likes of Corbu, Mies, Loos and Kahn. A strong showing, also, of key (proto-)postmodernist thinkers (as opposed to builders): Benjamin, Foucault, Derrida, Bataille, Deleuze. Rem Koolhaas' S M L XL is probably one of the few books to show up in all libraries, although it never makes it to the top 10 (his Delirious New York does, once). Venturi's Complexity and Contradiction is another fixture of the postmodern architectural scene. There is not an awful lot that refers back to older, pre-modern architectural practices (Michael Graves' library is an exception). And surprisingly little in terms of monographs on contemporary European colleagues (I don't think I saw anything referring to work by Rodgers, Piano, Herzog & De Meuron, ...). There is, on the other hand, quite a bit of fiction on those shelves - a lot of which reminds us of the fractured, the layered, the tectonic: Finnegan's Wake, Gravity's Rainbow, Moby Dick, The Man Without Qualities all figure in top 10 lists. Then again very few poetry books. Only one - Celan's Last Poems - show up, in Steven Holl's final selection.
The overlaps fascinate, but so do the differences.Read more ›
The ten featured architects are all presented in the same format: a general shot of their library (oddly these are all in black and white) and a nice touch, I thought, were captions about the shelving dimensions, manufacturers, materials and the number of books. Bernard Tschumi has the most at six thousand. An interview follows, which I found mildly interesting then close-up color photos of some books on the shelves so spines can be read by turning the book sideways. These shots are number keyed into the black and white overview photo. Finally the ten nominate their Top Ten Books, presented on a spread as cover thumbnails and what is the only book that pops up five times: Venturi's Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture, so no surprise there.
Reading the spines reveals no great surprises either, a mixture of architectural titles (several have a copy of 'S,M,L,XL') and culture. (Are the real revealing titles in another room?) Liz Diller and Ric Scofidio share a copy of 'Jocks & nerds', books on cars and highways. Bernard Tschumi has a copy of Philip Nobile's 1974 'Intellectual skywriting' and quite few movie and photo related titles and obviously copies of his own books. Stan Allen has 'Facts about Finland' and 'Mart Stam's trousers'.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fun concept for a book but alas none of these architects really draw my attention, except Stephen Holl, and I already have a pretty good collection of his books. Read morePublished on January 25, 2010 by James Ferguson