Book Briefs #26

"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.

Design/Build with Jersey Devil: A Handbook for Education and Practice by Charlie Hailey | Princeton Architectural Press | 2016 | Amazon
On this blog I've reviewed books from Princeton Architectural Press's "Architecture Briefs" series numerous times, including a Book Brief devoted to four of the titles back in 2012. It's good to see the series still going, especially when other series (PAPress or otherwise) appear but then fade away just as quickly. Their Architecture Briefs are targeted primarily to students and young architects, so it makes sense to have one devoted to design/build. Instead of Rural Studio, which has published three books with PAPress, the lesser-known but no-less-important Jersey Devil is the subject of this book. The trailblazing group, which started doing funky design/build projects in the 1970s, is still going strong; as the cover attests, though, the funkiness is a bit more subdued. The small book is crammed with practical information throughout (building a water tube level is just one standout), while also including a few in-depth case studies.

Inventive Minimalism: The Architecture of Roger Ferris + Partners by William S. Saunders, Roger Ferris | The Monacelli Press | 2016 | Amazon
The foreword to this monograph on Connecticut- and New York-based architect Roger Ferris is penned by Robert M. Rubin. Although a Wall Street man, his name should be familiar to preservationists: he owns and has restored Pierre Chareau's Maison de Verre in Paris. With a strong interest in architecture (he's working toward a doctorate in Columbia's history/theory program), he has commissioned Ferris for a number of projects, most notably the clubhouse and master plan for The Bridge Golf Club in Bridghampton on Long Island (yes, that club). It's one of Ferris's most well known projects, and at eight years old one of the oldest in the monograph, which highlights built works but also includes a number of projects on the boards. Excelling in residential architecture and the ability to capture the domestic scale in a modernist palette, it's fitting that Rubin commends Ferris's design of the clubhouse for, among other things, taking up "less total square footage than your average McMansion."

The Complete Zaha Hadid, Expanded and Updated | Thames & Hudson | 2016 | Amazon
The first Complete Zaha Hadid came out in 1998, when it was published by Rizzoli and featured primarily drawings, paintings and models, since Hadid's only building at the time was the Vitra Fire Station. Aaron Betsky penned the introduction then, as well as in the 2009 update and the latest in 2013, when the title switched to publisher Thames & Hudson. The 2016 title expands and updates the 2013 version, but thankfully Hadid's beautiful paintings from The Peak and other early projects are still an important part of the monograph. The buildings and projects here are presented in chronological order by start date, so some projects appear in unlikely places. In one instance, Spittelau Viaducts, which started in 1994 and was completed in 2005, is inserted between the unbuilt Cardiff Bay Opera House and a pavilion built in Birmingham in 1995. This is not a drawback as much as it is a result of updating a book that strives for completeness. Even with her sudden death in March, there are still plenty of updates to come, as the projects she had worked on in recent years get built and the firm carries on the spirit of her work without her.

Expanded Field: Installation Architecture Beyond Art by Ila Berman and Douglas Burnham | Applied Research and Design | 2015 | Amazon
Astute readers of art theory will recognize the title of this book, which refers to Rosalind Krauss's seminal essay, "Sculpture in the Expanded Field." In this image-drenched book, Berman and Burnham explore art/architecture installation practices through various disciplines: architecture, interiors, sculpture, and landscape. Culled from their 2012 exhibition, Architecture in the Expanded Field, the book presents 65 projects organized into 12 chapters: constructed landscapes, tectonic structures, spatial distortions, earthworks/land art, etc. The selection of projects is solid and the presentation is aided greatly by drawings that imbue even the most artistic projects with architectural qualities.

Jigsaw City: AECOM's Redefinition of the Asian New Town by Clare Jacobson, Daniel Elsea | ORO Editions | 2016 | Amazon
This book presents various plans by AECOM for India, China, the Philippines, and other Asian countries through two parts, one by each author. Elsea's "Learning from Hong Kong" is a study of seven new towns that provide new, modern housing for millions. In some cases the projects include clusters of anonymous high-rises without any noticeable relationship to landscape and ecology, but on the plus side the importance of density and transportation comes across strongly. In the second part, Jacobson presents 18 new town plans by AECOM, either single or groups of new towns set into thematic headlines: vision, client, masterplan, protection, reuse, landscape, energy, regions, etc. Both parts are required reading for urban planners and urban designers who want to understand how projects on this scale are accomplished.

Relentless Pursuit of an Architecture by MKPL Architects | ORO Editions | 2016 | Amazon
This monograph on twenty years of Singapore's MKPL Architects presents a mix of big and small projects. The firm's capabilities in dealing with material, form and space come across better in small projects, while many of the larger projects are in progress, meaning they are documented solely through renderings. All tolled, their designs are sensitive – if not overtly striking – responses to tropical climate.