I have never been a spatial person and I’m convinced I have an undiagnosed learning disorder when it comes to anything involving numbers.
Still, I have a curious love for almost anything about architecture and, in particular, writing about architecture and urban design.
I was walking home from the train the other day when it occurred to me that architecture may be the spatial person’s version of writing. A building/structure tells a narrative. It is one element against and within a larger context. It is a powerful metaphor for all that is important to a society at any given moment.
Anyhow, I find myself reading about architecture pretty frequently, and am probably more influenced than I realize by these texts. The ones below are powerfully relevant and fairly accessible:
1. Interview with Samuel Mockbee, architect and founder of the Rural Studio, BOMB Magazine, 2001:
This is the first piece I ever remember reading about architecture, and it excites me as much now as it did when I first read it in 2001. I keep a copy of this on my hard drive– that’s how often I refer to it. I think this is the first time I realized how powerful and important architecture is and how visionary architects can be. I also realized that architects should be central to any discussion about social problems.
2. Charlie Rose interviews the architects/designers of The High Line:
I realize this is a TV interview, not a piece of writing, but I loved listening to these architects and designers talk about the way that design is informed by use, setting, context, and history. You can watch the interview in this post on The High Line blog.
3. The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacobs:
I picked this up in The Strand a few years ago, intrigued by the order of the words–death before life. I had no clue at the time that Jacobs was tremendously influential in shaping theory and thoughts about urban design, especially in New York. I’m not a slow down and savor a book kind of person–I’m voracious–but I still haven’t finished this book, and I started reading it three years ago. There are lines that stop to make me think that long.
4. When the Water Rises: Five Architects Plan for Managing a Globally Warmed Future:
Just read this last week- can’t wait to see the exhibit-and it reinforced my observation about the Mockbee article: architects need to be much more involved in conversations about our responses to social problems.
*though what that something is, I’m not *entirely* sure.