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Essential Reference Books for Architecture

Books Every Architect and Architecture Student Must Own

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Many architects and professors recommend these reference books for students and others researching architecture and home design. Do you have a favorite reference book for architecture? Recommend it!

1. A History of Architecture

By Sir Banister Fletcher. A sweeping overview of architectural history, with floor plans, descriptions and 2,000+ illustrations for nearly every important building, up through and including the twentieth century. Yes, the book is expensive, but it has practically everything you may be looking for.
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2. Architectural Graphic Standards

Since it was first published in 1932, Architectural Graphic Standards has become THE essential desk reference for architects and engineers in the USA. The reference work contains more than 8,000 architectural illustrations, including construction-ready drawings.  Also included are chapters on accessibility and security, plus additional information on new materials and environmental construction. This reference is available as a textbook hardcover, a CD-ROM, or a less expensive condensed paperback.

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3. The Encyclopedia of Housing

By Willem Van Vliet (Editor). A one-stop resource with over 500 essays, from Abandonment to Zoning, by more than 250 leaders in a variety of professions. Appendixes summarize major federal legislation and list organizations and journals. This is not the only multidisciplinary reference work related to the building trades, but it is possibly the most detailed.
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4. A Field Guide to American Houses

By Virginia McAlester and Lee McAlester. This is the one book I take with me everywhere. Clear, well organized text and detailed illustrations describe American housing styles from the 17th century to the present. A valuable research tool for home-shoppers, home-builders, and anyone who is fascinated by architectural history. Buy an extra copy for your car.

5. Almanac of Architecture and Design 2012

From Design Intelligence, the publishers who give us the architecture school rankings, this fact-packed paperback is a one-stop resource for architecture and design. It includes competition submission deadlines and conferences, major award programs with their history and speeches by winners, a listing of the major design organizations, a compilation of design records including the tallest buildings in the world, a listing of U.S. colleges and universities offering design degrees, an overview of registration laws, and much more. To save some money, pick up the 2010 edition or the 2009 edition.

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6. The Architect's Pocket Book

Packed with practical details for planning, structure, services, building elements, materials, and more. Use it in the office or on the building site.
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