Unpacking My Library Architects and Their Books Jo Steffens

Publication date:
30 Nov 2009
Yale University Press
192 pages: 140 x 203mm
24 b-w + 284 color illus.
Sales territories:


Unpacking My Library: Architects and Their BooksWhat 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 fourteen of the world's leading architects, alongside conversations about the significance of books to their careers and lives. Photographs of bookshelves - displaying well-loved and rare volumes, eclectic organizational schemes, and the individual touches that make a bookshelf one's own - provide 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; Richard Meier; Michael Sorkin; Robert A. M. Stern; Bernard Tschumi; and, Todd Williams & Billie Tsien.

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

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

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

"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

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

"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

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

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

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