2019 Favorite Books

In 2019, the first year for A Daily Dose of Architecture Books (dDAB), I featured nearly 200 books in six day-of-the-week categories: Monograph Monday, Technical Tuesday, World Wednesday, History/Theory Thursday, Free-for-all Friday, and Wayback Weekend. With the year drawing to a close, I've decided to take a look back at all these books and pick my favorite in each category. This is not a "Best of 2019" list, though, since the books I reviewed in 2019 weren't necessarily released in 2019 (obviously this is the case with the Wayback Weekend books).

Below are my favorite books reviewed on dDAB in 2019, with just minor commentary provided for each. Reviews on dDAB will resume the second week of 2020.



Monograph Monday (31 books):
Studio 804: Design Build. Expanding the Pedagogy of Architectural Education by Dan Rockhill with David Sain (Oscar Riera Ojeda Publishers, October 2018) 
This long-overdue monograph covers the first 25 years of Studio 804, the design-build program started by architect Dan Rockhill at the University of Kansas (KU). The handsome, slipcase volume rose to the top due to Rockhill's honest interviews with David Sain, in which he recounts the difficulties and successes of each projects, as well as the thorough documentation of the buildings in photos and drawings.

Technical Tuesday (17 books):
Reglazing Modernism: Intervention Strategies for 20th-Century Icons by Angel Ayón, Uta Pottgiesser and Nathaniel Richards (Birkhäuser, October 2019)
I feature so few technical books on this blog that at one point I considered changes this day's category to something else. But books like Reglazing Modernism made me realize how important it is to present books that are geared to professional practice. Its 20 case studies on bringing mid-20th century icons up to 21st century energy standards are aided by rendered perspectival wall sections and axonometric details.

World Wednesday (40 books):
Forms of Practice: German-Swiss Architecture, 1980-2000 (second edition) by Irina Davidovici (gta Verlag, June 2019)
There are certain times when certain architects from certain places gain the attention of architects in other parts of the world. This happened in the last two decades of the 20th century with architects from the German-speaking areas of Switzerland, most notably Herzog & de Meuron and Peter Zumthor. This phenomenon is beautifully and intelligently explored through case studies of eight buildings by these famous architects and a half-dozen of their contemporaries. First published in 2012, the second edition of Forms of Practice fleshes out Davidovici's interpretation of German-Swiss architecture in those years through a few new essays and other updates.

History/Theory Thursday (38 books):
X-Ray Architecture by Beatriz Colomina (Lars Müller Publishers, March 2019)
While this is the trickiest category for me to decide on, since I am drawn to books on history and theory, ultimately the best barometer for these books is how well they make me see something familiar in a different way. In this regard, the book standing out from the rest is Colomina's fascinating take on the relationship between architecture and medicine in the early 20th century. In particular, it's the chapter on how tuberculosis forced architects to create a truly modern architecture -- a take that will stay with me for a long time.

Free-for-all Friday (37 books):
Your Guide to Downtown Denise Scott Brown: Hintergrund 56 by Jeremy Eric Tenenbaum with Denise Scott Brown (Architekturzentrum Wien & Park Books, March 2019)
I love architecture exhibitions, but I never seem to have enough time to digest them when I see them in person. So exhibition catalogs and other companion publications are a must for me. But when it comes to exhibitions I haven't seen, those same books aren't very dear to me, mainly because they don't put me in the exhibition. That's not the case with this printed companion to AzW's Downtown Denise Scott Brown, which uses the exhibition plan as a framework for the book's colorful and revealing contents.

Wayback Weekend (34 books):
Ladders (Architecture at Rice 34) by Albert Pope (Rice School of Architecture & Princeton Architectural Press, December 1996)
Most of the time when I feature old books on the weekends they're books I've read in the past. Spurred on by a book earlier in the week, I'll revisit such a book and use the blog to discover what I like about it or what has stuck with me over the years. Not Ladders, which I wasn't really aware of until this year, when I learned it was an important book, read it, and then realized why it was so important, and why it was given a second edition nearly 20 years after publication. Pope explains things we think we know -- sprawl -- in a way that is fresh. It's dense, with a writing style that is demanding at times, but it's one of the most rewarding books I've read in a long time -- too bad it took me so long to discover it.