"Book Briefs" are an ongoing series of posts with two- or three-sentence first-hand descriptions of some of the numerous books that make their way into my library. These briefs are not full-blown reviews, but they are a way to share more books worthy of attention than can find their way into reviews on my daily or weekly pages.
1: Meet the Nelsons by Wes Jones | L.A. Forum for Architecture and Urban Design | 2010 | Amazon
Architect Wes Jones first utilized the comic format in 1989 to convey mood for a project, realizing the narrative structure allowed a certain freedom that architectural drawings didn't. He extended this format into a series of strips for ANY Magazine -- the nexus of architectural theory in the 1990s -- that presents the domestic life of, I'm guessing, the Nelsons. Lighthearted at times, esoteric in others, having all the strips in one place is a treat and a welcome respite from the words and photos of most architectural publishing.
2: Street Value: Shopping, Planning, and Politics at Fulton Mall by Rosten Woo and Meredith TenHoor | Princeton Architectural Press | 2010 | Amazon
The first of Inventory Books' small-format books on "transformations in urban spaces and culture" (the second, on Public Farm 1, was reviewed previously) discusses Fulton Mall in Brooklyn. Half 100-year history of the downtown pedestrian mall and half interviews with the planners instrumental in shaping its form over that time, the in-depth case study highlights issues of race, class, and real estate and how they interact in the changing city. Of course, the role of architects and planners is the focus here, and as Fulton Mall undergoes another transformation their contributions will unfold before our eyes.
3: Guide to Green Building Rating Systems by Linda Reeder | Wiley | 2010 | Amazon
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program may get all the attention and the four-letter acronym after building professionals' names, but it is only one of a number of green building rating systems. This guide to both commercial and residential systems features LEED as well as Green Globes, Energy Star, NAHBGreen, and local, regional, and international programs/systems. Case studies accompany the chapters on the different rating systems.
4: Paper New York: Build Your Own Big Apple by Kell Black | Universe | 2010 | Amazon
Twenty NYC-centric paper models are ready for the building, from a hot dog cart to the Empire State Building. But what at first glance looks like child's play are models that require patience and the right tools. If that combination is available the results are cute ornaments that convey the spirit of the full-size building (or bridge, or animal, or rollercoaster, or vehicle, etc.) if not with total accuracy.
5: Green Living: Architecture and Planning edited by Dr. Barbara Kenda and Steven Parissien | Rizzoli | 2010 | Amazon
Based on the assertion that people want to live and work in traditional buildings and that sustainable buildings are the high-tech antithesis of tradition, the Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment collects essays by twelve practitioners (including James Steele and Andrés Duany) that look to history rather than technology for building green. While some essays seem to exist to only further the antagonism between the traditional and the contemporary, truly sustainable architecture cannot rely solely on technological methods, so a look to vernacular is important to acknowledge.