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Book Arts: Books By or About Architects

Subject-specific lists of book arts materials available in Special Collections at the Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library

Books by Architects

Rem Koolhaus.  OMA 30: 30 Colours. Blaricum, Netherlands: V+K Publishers, 1999. NJ18 K8816 A12 FNT 6088 1999 (LC)

Jennifer Sigler (ed). Small, Medium, Large, Extra-Large: Office for Metropolitan Architecture, Rem Koolhaas, and Bruce Mau. 2nd ed. Photography by Hans Werlemann. Rotterdam, Netherlands: 010 Publishers ; New York, NY: Monacelli Press, 1998.

These two works celebrate the architectural firm OMA (Office for Metropolitan Architecture), founded by Rem Koolhaas and three other partners in 1975.  In OMA 30, Koolhaas and 29 of his OMA colleagues each contribute a color they consider to be relevant to contemporary architecture and society.  Shown is Koolhaas’ contribution titled “attribute.”  Other colors include a flesh tone called “FT pink/colour of global capitalism” and a reflective surface that changes color depending on how light hits it called “An urban stew of humanity and technology.”  The book is part of the Faber Birren Collection of Books on Color.

Koolhaas’ biography in OMA 30 includes a reference to the other book in this case: “In 1995, Rem Koolhaas published S, M, L, XL, together with graphic designer Bruce Mau.  The book documents the work of OMA and Koolhaas’ own interest in contemporary society and architecture. S, M, L, XL was hailed as ‘Book of the Century’ by Blueprint Magazine…”  Shown is a page spread from “Très Grande Bibliothèque (Very Big Library)” 1989 Competition in Paris.

Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, and Steven Izenour.  Learning From Las Vegas. Cambridge, MA, MIT Press, [1972]. NA735 L3 V45 (LC)+ Oversize Unit 2

This book, which has become important in a variety of disciplines because it is an early herald of post-modern thought, was born in the classroom at the then combined Yale School of Art and Architecture.  The three authors co-taught the third year studio course “Learning from Las Vegas, or Form Analysis as Design Research” in 1968. The original syllabus for the class is also part of Arts Library Special Collections (Not shown/Call number Jaf23 C8 Y3 968Y+ Oversize).  

The research from a 2-week trip to the West (4 days in Los Angeles and 10 days in Las Vegas), combined with many weeks of research by the teachers/authors and their students culminated in this influential text.  The goal was to “through open-minded and nonjudgmental investigation” understand architecture that is part of the “new type of urban form emerging in America and Europe” that is sometimes called “urban sprawl.”  Their theory is that contemporary study of the graphic and architectural forms of the commercial strip is akin to earlier generations studying “medieval Europe and ancient Rome and Greece.”  The authors lay out their findings in two parts: a description of Las Vegas architecture and then a discussion of the symbolism and iconography of it.  A third section of the publication describes the work of the firm Venturi and Rauch from 1965-1971.  This particular copy contains an inscription from “Bob and Denise” to Kingman Brewster, President of Yale 1963-77.  Shown is the authors’ homage to Ed Ruscha’s Every Building on the Sunset Strip (also included in this exhibition).

Books About Architects

Holocaust Memorial Berlin: Eisenman Architects. Text by Hanno Rauterberg; photo essay by Hélène Binet; photo impressions by Lukas Wassmann; translation, Ishbel Fiett. Baden, Switzerland: Lars Müller Publishers, 2005. NJ18.Ei853 R38 2005 (LC)+ Oversize Unit 2

Concrete covers give way to glossy photographs and diagrams of the memorial site.  Also included are two essays:  Hanno Rauterberg writes about the experience of being among the blocks and the function of memorials; Peter Eisenman discusses how the boundaries of architecture and sculpture have changed over history and his ideas on how to approach the problem of creating memorials in contemporary times. Eisenman’s essay is surrounded by a variety of diagrams of the entire site, emphasizing the abstract qualities of the design.  The photographs function as both a documentary about the place and an artist’s interpretation of the experience of being there.  The reader gets a sense of entering and being enveloped among the towering concrete stellae and also becomes an observer of others interacting with the blocks and each other.  

Donald Wall. Documenta; The Paolo Soleri Retrospective. [Washington: Corcoran Gallery of Art, 1970].  J18 So35 970W  

Paolo Soleri is an Italian-born architect who came to the United States in 1947 to study under Frank Lloyd Wright.  Although he has very few built works, Soleri’s designs seek to combat the sprawl encroaching on the natural landscape by re-imagining the urban environment as a highly complex, but condensed entity.  Coining the term “arcology,” a neologism combining architecture with ecology, Soleri has modeled this concept at Arcosanti, a project under construction since 1970, north of Phoenix, AZ.

The Corcoran’s retrospective exhibition, “The Architectural Vision of Paolo Soleri,” included intricate Lucite models and scroll drawings over 100 feet in length.  The accompanying catalogue is a subdivided cardboard box, containing 16 scrolled illustrations (four examples are shown in the cases above) and an 84-page booklet.  Wall writes that in order to represent concepts from Soleri’s work, e.g., “bigness and smallness, continuity and complexity,” the catalogue became a “mini-exhibition” itself.