Summer Reading 2024: Design Books by GSD Faculty and Alumni

A title page of a book The Art of Architectural Grafting.

Building your summer reading list? This selection of recent publications by Harvard Graduate School of Design faculty and alumni—organized alphabetically by title—includes design-related topics from wildfires to the Tower of Babel.

In Absolute Beginners (Park Books, 2022) Iñaki Ábalos, design critic in architecture, addresses innovation in architecture, examining the ways in which architectural creation, like philosophical thought, intertwines with reflections on the past and appropriations of recurring challenges.

Approaching Architecture: Three Fields, One Discipline (Routledge/Taylor & Francis, 2023) interrogates the relationship of research, pedagogy, and professional practice. Edited by Miguel Guitart (MArch ’03), the book collects 18 contributions from around the globe that challenge the discipline’s compartmentalization. One reviewer characterizes the compilation as “a thoughtful and engaging set of arguments, provocations, and reflections that work collaboratively, curiously, and critically to help reconsider the necessary entanglements of architecture’s ‘three fields.’”

Cover of the book Architecture After GodIn Architecture After God: Babel Resurgent (Birkhäuser, 2023), Kyle Dugdale (MArch ’02) explores the Tower of Babel as a concept aligning architecture and morality from ancient Babylon to twentieth century Europe, where early modernism’s idealism collided with the rising nationalism that prefigured World War II. “Dealing in structural metaphor, utopian aspiration, and geopolitical ambition, the book’s narrative”—in the words of the publisher—”exposes the inexorable architectural implications of the event described by Nietzsche as the death of God.”

Architecture and Micropolitics: Four Buildings 2011-2022 (Park Books, 2022), by professor in practice of architecture Farshid Moussavi (MArch ’91), investigates the relationship between architecture and society, using Moussavi’s work to highlight the architect’s enduring relevance and demonstrate how buildings can be grounded in the micropolitics of everyday life. The book includes essays by GSD design critic in architecture Iñaki Ábalos and others.

Architectures of Transition: Emergent Practices in South Asia (Edicions Altrim S.L., 2023), written by John T. Dunlop Professor in Housing and Urbanization Rahul Mehrotra, Devashree Shah (MArch II ’23), and Pranav Thole (MArch ’23), draws on a conferences series that took place from March 2022 to March 2023. The publication foregrounds conversations around architecture and evolving models of practice in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, and the Maldives.

Armadillo House: A Conversation between Marc Camille Chaimowicz and Roger Diener (Walther König, 2023), edited by Fredi Fischli and Niels Olsen—John Portman Design Critics in Architecture—with Cristina Bechtler, presents a discussion between artist Chaimowicz and architect Diener covering their collaboration on The Armadillo House in Basel, Switzerland. The book details their respective artistic visions and differing approaches to spatial arrangements.

A spread from a book opened to green text on a white page that says Designs and Techniques for Joining.
“The Art of Architectural Grafting” by Jeanne Gang.

The established horticultural practice of grafting connects two living plants, one old and one new, to grow and thrive as one. In The Art of Architectural Grafting (Park Books, 2024), professor in practice of architecture Jeanne Gang (MArch ’93) applies the notion of grafting to existing buildings and urban lands as a paradigm for rethinking adaptive reuse and addressing climate change. Through theoretical essays and architectural examples, Gang explicates the concept of architectural grafting, urging her peers to “renew our role as cultural leaders who envision and create a different future” by “add[ing] capacity to what already exists, caring for the old and simultaneously making original contributions to it.”

In Atlas of the Senseable City (Yale University Press, 2023), Antoine Picon, G. Ware Travelstead Professor of the History of Architecture and Technology, and Carlo Ratti explore how sensing technologies associated with digital mapping impact everyday life. Ubiquitous sensors offer new ways to visualize cities with implications that touch on many areas, from making municipalities more efficient to assisting in the support of vulnerable urban populations.

Edited by Michael Van Valkenburgh—Charles Eliot Professor in Practice of Landscape Architecture, Emeritus—and Elijah Chilton, Brooklyn Bridge Park: Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (Monacelli, 2024) chronicles the transformation of 85 acres of Brooklyn’s post-industrial landscape into a waterfront park that stretches 1.3 miles along the East River. This book explores the firm’s efforts, over 23 years, to convert parking lots and derelict piers into a public recreational space and living ecosystem.

For a century, Zurich—a center of global finance and Switzerland’s largest city—has embraced, within its for-profit real estate market, a cooperative model that supports nonprofit housing. Cooperative Conditions: A Primer of Architecture, Finance, and Regulation in Zurich (gta Verlag, 2024), edited by design critic in urban planning and design Susanne Schindler with Anne Kockelkorn and Rebekka Hirschberg, examines the interplay between housing’s architectural, regulatory, and fiscal instruments, rendering aspects of Zurich’s cooperative model applicable for other locations.

Cover of the book Design by Fire: Resistance, Co-Creation, and Retreat in the Pyrocene.Design by Fire: Resistance, Co-Creation, and Retreat in the Pyrocene (Routledge, 2023) by Emily Schlickman (MLA ’12) and Brett Milligan addresses our relationship with, and vulnerability to, wildfires. Nearly thirty case studies categorized into three approaches—resisting, embracing, and retreating—offer possible design strategies for building in fire-prone landscapes. One reviewer described Design by Fire as “the essential guidebook and atlas for the pyro-future that is already here,” offering “a foundation for understanding—and living in—the world to come.”

With Design Thinking and Storytelling in Architecture (Birkhäuser, 2024) Peter Rowe—Raymond Garbe Professor of Architecture and Urban Design and Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor—and Yoeun Chung (MAUD ’19, DDes ’22) explore design thinking, posited as “a fundamentally different way of knowing the world and a particular form of addressing creative problems.” The authors assert that designing rests on underlying principles of inquiry, and storytelling is preceded by a process involving empathy or careful listening. The book illustrates examples of testing and prototyping that generate a deeper understanding of architecture.

Cover of the book Flowcharting: From Abstractionism to Algorithmics in Art and ArchitectureFlowcharting: From Abstractionism to Algorithmics in Art and Architecture (gta Verlag, 2023) by Matthew Allen (MArch ’10) investigates mid-twentieth-century experimentation that harnessed serial effects to create art and architecture. As Allen writes, “by adopting flowcharting procedures from scientific management, [the avant-garde] enacted a paradigm shift that had long been a cherished dream of modernism, replacing composition with organization as the basis of design.”

Design critic in architecture Andrew Heid penned the introduction to Glass Houses (Phaidon Press, 2023), a lavishly illustrated publication presenting 50 homes, dating from the early modern era through today, built almost entirely from glass. Featured architects include Tatiana Bilbao, Lina Bo Bardi, Ofis Architekti, Herzog & de Meuron, Hiroshi Nakamura, Kazuyo Sejima, Philip Johnson, Mecanoo, John Lautner, Richard Rogers, and Mies van der Rohe.

Lina Ghotmeh, Kenzo Tange Design Critic in Architecture, worked closely with editors Alexa Chow and Natalia Grabowska to document her firm’s pavilion at the Serpentine Galleries in Kensington Gardens, London. Titled Lina Ghotmeh – Architecture – À Table!: Serpentine Pavilion 2023 (Walther König, 2023), the catalog contains illustrations and contributed essays, as well as a lengthy interview with Ghotmeh conducted by renowned critic and curator Hans Ulrich Obrist.

A spread from a book showing a dense residential neighborhood in a middle eastern country with many 3-4 story houses clustered together.
“The Multiplex Typology: Living in Kuwait’s Hybrid Houses” by Joaquín Pérez-Goicoechea, Sharifa Alshalfan, and Sarah Alfraih.

In The Multiplex Typology: Living in Kuwait’s Hybrid Houses (DOM Publishers, 2022) authors Joaquín Pérez-Goicoechea (MArch ’02), Sharifa Alshalfan, and Sarah Alfraih issue a call for alternative approaches to housing that are rooted in cultural specificity and adaptability. They focus on the multiplex—a ubiquitous yet officially unacknowledged form of multi-family housing that hides behind the facades of the single-family villa—arguing that this unique type offers a viable option for contemporary housing development in Kuwait.

Sarah Oppenheimer: Sensitive Machine (DelMonico Books/Wellin Museum of Art, 2023), edited by Tracy L. Adler, details four interactive artworks created by Sarah Oppenheimer, design critic in architecture, for the Wellin Museum of Art at Hamilton College. As Adler notes, “Oppenheimer’s work challenges us to consider how interactions with the built environment shape not just those who occupy a particular space, but how their presence impacts the space itself: how we fill and move through a space, how we adapt a space to our needs even when we are subject to its limitations.”

Cover of the book Silt Sand Slurry: Dredging, Sediment, and the Worlds We are MakingIn Silt Sand Slurry: Dredging, Sediment, and the Worlds We are Making (AR+D, 2023), Gena Wirth (MLA ’09, MUP ’09), Rob Holmes, and Brett Milligan explore sediment’s role in shaping and facilitating modern life. As the book’s description notes, “Anthropogenic action now moves more sediment annually than ‘natural’ geological processes—yet this global reshaping of the earth’s surface is rarely discussed and poorly understood.” The authors outline an adaptive approach to designing with sediment as opposed to continuing current management practices, which often negatively impact larger ecological and human systems.

John Portman Design Critics in Architecture Fredi Fischli and Niels Olsen edited Sylvie Fleury: Double Positive (Jrp Ringier Kunstverlag Ag, 2022) to accompany an exhibition on the artist’s work that ran from October 2022 through March 2023 at the Bechtler Stiftung in Zurich. The book offers new insight into Fleury’s 1990s fashion collection, which the artist arranged as intentional mises-en-scène concerning consumerism and fetishization.

Segregation and Resistance in the Landscapes of the Americas (Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 2023) draws on a 2020 Dumbarton Oaks symposium, assembling essays on the histories of segregation and resistance. Edited by Eric Avila and Thaïsa Way, lecturer in landscape architecture and director of Garden and Landscape Studies at Dumbarton Oaks, this collection considers how cultural and spatial practices of separation, identity, response, and revolt are shaped by place and inform practices of place-making.

Sharing Tokyo: Artifice and the Social World (Actar, 2023) collects essays and drawings focused on the theme of sharing Toyko’s urban space. Co-edited by Alexander and Victoria Wiley Professor of Design and Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor Mohsen Mostafavi and Kayoko Ota, the book offers insights, new perspectives, and speculative experiments in Tokyo’s urbanism and architecture that can be transferred to other contexts.

Technical lands, spaces united by their “exceptional” status, range from demilitarized and disaster exclusion zones to prison yards, industrial extraction sites, and airports. Edited by Charles Waldheim, John E. Irving Professor of Landscape Architecture, and Jeffrey S. Nesbit (DDes ’20), Technical Lands: A Critical Primer (JOVIS, 2022) assembles writings representing diverse disciplines, geographies, and epistemologies to illuminate the meaning, political implications, and increasing significance of these spaces.

In Thinking and Building on Shaky Ground  (Birkhäuser, 2023), Yun Fu (MArch I AP ’15, DDes ’20), design critic in urban planning and design, explores strategies for earthquake-resilient architecture. Marrying technical knowledge with social and cultural understanding, these approaches allow for the development of contextual solutions applicable to all scales, from furniture to urban plans.

Urban Natures: A Technical and Social History, 1600-2023 (Pavillon de l’Arsenal, 2024), by G. Ware Travelstead Professor of the History of Architecture and Technology Antoine Picon, examines the history of nature’s place in cities through the lenses of urban planning, public health, food systems, and aesthetics. The publication accompanies an exhibition at Paris’s Pavillon de l’Arsenal mounted from April through September 2024.

Cover of the book Vincent Scully: Architecture, Urbanism, and a Life in Search of Community.Vincent Scully: Architecture, Urbanism, and a Life in Search of Community (Bloomsbury, 2023) by A. Krista Sykes (PhD ’04) details the life, career, and legacy of the architectural historian and critic Vincent Scully (1920–2017). Emerging in the 1950s as a guiding voice in American architecture, Scully investigated topics ranging from ancient Greek temples and Pueblos of the American Southwest to the work of Robert Venturi, Aldo Rossi, and New Urbanism. Scully believed that architecture shapes and is shaped by society, and that the best architecture responds to the human need for community and connection.