GoArchitect is starting a blog series about the books that influence today's architects and designers. Each week we will interview one person with one question: What 3 books have impacted your life in architecture and why?
The 3 books may be from childhood or just last week, the important element is that they helped define their personal or professional life. If you would like to be considered for a future interview, please let us know.
We are starting off the 3 Books Series by interviewing Josh Sanabria, GoArchitect CEO. He is also the author & illustrator of Norman's Architecture Adventure, a programmer, and architectural designer. Josh lives in California and enjoys bringing architecture to life through sketching, writing, and creating software. He graduated with an M-Arch from Andrews University in wintery southwest Michigan.
What 3 books have impacted your life in architecture and why?
Ayn Rand, 1943
To try and summarize The Fountainhead would be an injustice to it's status as one of the premier books of the 20th Century. Suffice it to say, this story about an architect who wouldn't compromise or yield to public opinion challenged and refined my worldview.
It did not sway me in the way, I suspect, Ayn Rand desired. Rather than come out the other side with an objectivist mindset it cemented my belief that each person has a purpose and each is obligated to pursue this purpose, even if it is altruistic.
This pursuit of purpose applies to architecture because buildings shape our personal and societal lives. The Fountainhead champions an ideal that every building is allowed to live up to its purpose, of which their can only be one. The building is inflexible and focused in its pursuit: a home cannot be a workplace and a workplace cannot be a school.
This inflexibility, when applied to esoteric discussion is amusing but when it is reasoned against 21st Century knowledge of limited resources and sustainability, it's wasteful. Is it a coincidence that Howard Roark's Cortlandt resembles the infamous Pruitt-Igoe? Likely not. The zeitgeist of The Fountainhead demanded such a solution but fortunately we have evolved. The Fountainhead is everything right and wrong with architecture, simultaneously demanding perfection and yielding imperfect results.
"What did it get right then?”, you may ask. It provides the fuel for a never ending pursuit of purpose and loyalty to that purpose. This is a noble endeavor.
Eugene Trivizas, 1993
Nothing could be further away from The Fountainhead than The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig. It playfully transports the classic tale of the 3 little pigs to a world where the wolves are the characters on the run. They don't build houses of straw or sticks; these guys take the challenge seriously and build out of concrete and steel plates. I credit this book with fostering a fascination for how buildings can be story tellers of their own.
Leonardo Da Vinci 1452 - 1519
Perhaps it's technically not a book but I've always been inspired by the sketches of Da Vinci. His work got me into the habit of keeping notebooks and using them as a way to record progress throughout a project. Now I'm able to look back at years of work and ideas and appreciate my process.
This time capsule from the greatest Renaissance mind always inspires me to push on and seek novel solutions. It reminds me of the dangers and mystery that early architects and artists navigated. I sit at my desk and feign bravery with a few mouse clicks; Da Vinci took real risks to create; that is always admirable.
Have any of these books influenced your life or career in architecture? Leave a comment below and tell us how.