Essential Reading

Critical Architecture Library

Reading, as much as drawing or model making, is fundamental to building a strong foundation in the field. While we recognize that this is not a topic that can be done justice by any “top x” list we would like to share what we have come to call the “Architecture Student’s Reading Bucket List”. This is by no means all inclusive – simply our feeble attempt to compile a list of the “must haves” that we believe should be on one’s shelf before completing their first professional degree in architecture.

Please consider sharing some of the books that have been most influential or useful to you in your education in the comments below.

Happy reading everyone!

Drawing and Design Fundamentals

Ching, Francis D.K. Architecture: Form, Space, and Order. New York, Van Nostrand, 1996.

Ching, Francis D.K Design Drawing. New York: Wiley & Sons, 1998.

Overview of Architectural History

Frampton, Kenneth. Modern Architecture: A Critical History. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1992.

Pevsner, Nikolaus. An Outline of European Architecture. New York: Penguin Books, 1972.

Watkin, David. A History of Western Architecture. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 2000.

Architectural History, Theory, and Criticism

Arnheim, Rudolf. The Dynamics of Architectural Form. Los Angeles: The University of California Press, 1977.

Colquhoun, Alan. Essays in Architectural Criticism: Modern Architecture and Historical Change. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1981.

Hays, K. Michael, editor. Architecture Theory Since 1968. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1998.

Jacobs, Jane. The Death and Life of Great American Cities. New York: Vintage Books, 1992.

Koolhaas, Rem. Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan. New York: Oxford University Press, 1978.

Le Corbusier. Towards a New Architecture. New York: Dover Publications, 1986.

Rowe, Colin. The Mathematics of the Ideal Villa and Other Essays. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1987.

Tschumi, Bernard. Architecture and Disjunction. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1996.

Venturi, Robert. Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture. New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1966.

Structures & Construction

Ching, Francis D.K. Building Construction Illustrated. New York: Van Nostrand, 1975.

Ching, Francis D.K., et al. Building Structures Illustrated: Patterns, Systems, and Design. New York: Wiley & Sons, 2009.

Salvadori, Mario. Why Buildings Stand Up: The Strength of Architecture. New York: W W Norton & Company, 2002.

Salvadori, Mario and Matthys Levy. Why Buildings Fall Down: How Structures Fail. New York: W W Norton & Company, 2002.


Looking to expand your library? Check out our Further Reading page for more suggestions.

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