On the Nightstand, 002: Old Buildings, New Designs

Old Buildings, New Designs

“… design integrity is essential for exemplary architecture.”


There is a scale I use to judge all architecture and design books. A scale that, through its use, describes the benefit of owning or reading the book. Some books are excellent idea books that should be read and appreciated. Others give benefit purely in terms of visual stimulation and excel in terms of looking (not reading) through the book. The best kind of book is a balance between exemplary ideas and beautiful images.

This book is an attempt at the third type of book, and is in my opinion not a successful one. In terms of ideas or knowledge gained, the written portion of the book strikes me as pure drivel and does not allow any sort of insight into how new meets old (a premise which the book explains to be the most important aspect of this type of architecture). In fact, the first half of the book is full of the author’s over generalizations about the design process involved in the renovation, restoration, or re-invigoration of old architecture.

However, where the book really shines is the second half. This portion of the book is dedicated to case studies of successful architecture that melds together new and old through extreme, restrained, and referential contrast. Each case study has a few good images as well as a short paragraph or two regarding the history and story behind the work of architecture. Image wise, it is full of beautiful “money shots” but is somewhat lacking in terms of design drawings or, what I really look for, diagrams.

Verdict: Look through it.

If you are particularly interested in this type of architecture, than perhaps the book is worth purchasing. However, the case studies may be the only thing worth while in the book (and that only makes up the last half of the book!)

On the nightstand


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