best visionary architecture/urbanism books
July 21, 2006 5:45 AM   Subscribe

Could you suggest good visionary (realized or unrealized) architecture and urbanism books ? I'd be interested in well illustrated books. I can afford a 50 to 150 dollars book on that topic. I'd like to find things like that.
posted by vincentm to Science & Nature (18 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Etienne Louis Boulee drawings from the 18th century are amazing.

Carlos Scarpa sketched a lot of unrealized stuff. A visionary, yet some argue he really wasn't an architect.

Albert Speer was the Nazi architect of the unrealized Third Reich.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 6:15 AM on July 21, 2006

A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction, by Christopher Alexander.

Anything by Jane Jacobs or Lewis Mumford (more urbanism than architecture, but certainly visionary).

Stuff about or by Paolo Soleri.
posted by Framer at 7:15 AM on July 21, 2006

Have you ever read Delirious New York by...that guy? The drawings are AWESOME! There's one part about a notional skyscraper athletic club where dudes are eating oysters with boxing gloves on, and then there's like "cover of an Ayn Rand novel" style charcoal drawings that are like, "what if we applied Hausmann's rules to 100 story buildings?" So there are these huge towers over shadowy 100 lane highways with bridges between the buildings.
posted by jeb at 7:22 AM on July 21, 2006

+1 A Pattern Language or Alexander's newer series, the Nature of Order.
posted by rsanheim at 7:30 AM on July 21, 2006

+1 Pattern Language.
Arcosanti is certainly visionary, though it's a bit of a cracked vision. I'm sure they've got some books to sell.
posted by adamrice at 7:47 AM on July 21, 2006

Given your links, I would not second "A Pattern Language" -- that's more New Urbanism, and it looks like you want old-school urbanism.

I would second "Delirious New York" (Rem Koolhaas); S,M,L,XL is also good. (although the two of them would hit your budget fairly quickly)

Also, "100 Mile City" by Deijan Sudjic (textual, not photographic)

Photographic, there's "Robert Polidori's Metropolis" (by, surprisingly, Robert Polidori.) His other books, "Havanna" and "Chernobyl" are also good, but perhaps not as close of a match. Burtynsky is also a good bet ("China" in particular) Also coming to mind are Tom Pavia's "Nightfall," and anything by Naoya Hatakeyama. For the photography books, check out Photoeye -- they are better at obscure catalogs and foreign press books than Amazon.
posted by printdevil at 8:40 AM on July 21, 2006

Brodsky & Utkin: The Complete Works; A. G. Rizzoli : Architect of Magnificent Visions; Visionary Architects: Boulée, Ledoux, Lequeu.

Lequeu is a particularly interesting figure, but the one book I’ve actually read about him is expensive & not very well written.
posted by misteraitch at 8:45 AM on July 21, 2006

Lebbeus Woods / Radical Reconstruction, and I second the Brodsky & Utkin.
posted by unlicensedarchitect at 9:20 AM on July 21, 2006

It's off the path of what you're really looking for, but you may enjoy some of Syd Mead's work as well.
posted by wzcx at 9:21 AM on July 21, 2006

Oh hell, I was actually thinking of L ebbeus Woods. Thank you, Unlicensedarchitect.
posted by wzcx at 9:22 AM on July 21, 2006

Whoops, upon re-reading your question, I somehow overlooked the 'realized' part. I just saw the words 'unrealized' and 'well illustrated' and thought of Woods and Utkin.

I just personally bought this book by MVRDV that deals massive-scale architecture and urbanism-- some built, but mostly unbuilt. 1400 page book, with DVD.
posted by unlicensedarchitect at 9:29 AM on July 21, 2006

Burnham and Root's Plan of Chicago is a classic work of unrealized urban planning. Not quite architecture, but I think you'll find a lot of overlap. A reproduction copy will run you about $50.

I often wonder how Chicago would have developed had the plan been implemented in its entirety. Sadly, pretty much all we have of it is a single, man-made island.
posted by aladfar at 10:05 AM on July 21, 2006

The Changing of the Avant-Garde: Visionary Architectural Drawings from the Howard Gilman Collection has plenty of nice stuff in it, despite the goofy title.
posted by jtron at 12:28 PM on July 21, 2006

definitely "delirious new york". i stumbled on it years ago, and it really stayed with me. the russian swim team part was inexplicably moving.
posted by aquanaut at 1:25 PM on July 21, 2006

... and it's on starting at $17.50.
posted by aquanaut at 1:26 PM on July 21, 2006

Response by poster: Thank you for all these answers !
posted by vincentm at 3:09 AM on July 22, 2006

Sorry I'm a bit late to the party; I had to dig out my notes on the Future City exhibition I visited last month.

The only books I seem to have noted related to the start of the exhibition. One that isn't on the list but close enough in subject is The Activist Drawing: Retracing Situationist Architectures from Constant's New Babylon to Beyond, based on the utopianist visions and ideas of Constant Nieuwenhuys -- related are Simon Sadler's The Situationist City and Mark Wigley's Constant's New Babylon.

My impression of these is that they're more concerned with the 'idea' of the city rather than the physical manifestation of buildings and place; in my notes I've scribbled down "psychogeography --> world wide web -- mental connections are hyperlinks (but new babylon is characterised by disorientation)", which may or may not be helpful to you.

I'm sure other MeFites have attended so they might be able to fill in the blanks in my knowledge, and note some of the other books that are referred to/displayed at the show.
posted by macdara at 8:34 AM on July 22, 2006
posted by dragonsi55 at 8:44 AM on July 24, 2006

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