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Sunday, June 10, 2007

5 Books I Love About Architects

Every weekend I post about "5 Books I love about..." and mostly it has been about Interior Designers etc, naturally enough I think. But where would Interior Designers be without Architects. My training was originally in Architecture (thank you University of Qld, Brisbane Australia), and I switched over to doing mostly Interiors about 15 years ago. However, this has given me the greatest respect for Architects and there art. So, I have put together a sampling of books that cover most styles of homes, about Architects that I really enjoy. Most of these have done large scale commercial work as well, but I really enjoy seeing what these designers do, on a smaller residential scale, I hope you do too.

I doubt that any list on Architecture, residential or otherwise would be complete without Frank Lloyd Wright. His work redefined Modern Architecture, by creating a link between tradition, context and modernism. This book shows a series of his greatest houses, and would serve as a great introduction to his style.

Over the last twenty years or so, a trend has arisen, of huge scale residential architecture, often derisively call "McMansions". The term is often well deserved, as these new mega-homes are often poorly planned pastiches of traditional and classical architecture. Then along came Robert Stern, who has an incredible depth of knowledge about classical design, and has managed to find a way to design on a large scale but still create buildings that are timeless and beautiful. My favorites have always been the shingle style houses he has created out in the Hampton's, but the book also includes some of his Mediterranean homes done in other parts of the country as well. For those who enjoy great homes on a large scale, this is not to be missed.

While much is made of the Mediterranean homes of Florida, by Addison Mizner etc, Florida also has a rich tradition of Modern Architecture, and this book is about one of it's greatest practitioners. Paul Rudolph created some of the best Modern houses in the state that expertly blended tropical fantasy with modernism. His unique voice is a great counterpoint to the traditional work that was going on around him.

In recent years Richard Meier's reputation has exploded with his development of the Getty Center in Los Angeles, as well as other huge projects around the world. Given the size of most of his projects, I find it fascinating to see him work on a more intimate scale. Most of these houses are not huge, but they all embody his classic modernist outlook. I particularly enjoyed the beach houses.

No trip to Los Angeles is complete without a tour of the tony suburbs of Beverly Hills, Bel Air and San Marino. These neighborhoods, constructed mostly in the 20's and 30's are full of great Mediterranean homes that are inspiring in their detail and execution. This man, Wallace Neff is responsible for some of the best examples. His frequent trips to Europe and his eye for detail, gave his work a look of effortlessness that seems timeless even today. This book is a great story about one of the first society Architects in Hollywood, and is a great addition to any collection.

1 comment:

Fairfax said...

Very interesting. I've been to Taliasen West and also saw Robert AM Stern speak in October.