Unpacking My Library - Steffens, Jo - Yale University Press
  • Nov 30, 2009
    192 p., 8 x 5 1/2
    24 b/w + 284 color illus.
    ISBN: 9780300158939
    HC - Paper over Board: $22.00 

Art and Architecture
Literary Studies

Published in association with Urban Center Books, The Architecture Bookstore of the Municipal Art Society of New York 

Unpacking My Library

Architects and Their Books

  • Edited by Jo Steffens; Featuring an essay by Walter Benjamin
      REVIEWS             PREVIEW             CONTENTS             EXCERPTS      

Selected by Omnivoracious, an Amazon.com blog, as one of the Best One of a Kind Book Covers of 2009

Selected for the 2009 Holiday Gift Guide, Kenneth Baker, The San Francisco Chronicle

What does a library say about the mind of its owner? How do books map the intellectual interests, curiosities, tastes, and personalities of their readers? What does the collecting of books have in common with the practice of architecture? Unpacking My Library provides an intimate look at the personal libraries of twelve of the world’s leading architects, alongside conversations about the significance of books to their careers and lives.


Photographs of bookshelvesdisplaying well-loved and rare volumes, eclectic organizational schemes, and the individual touches that make a bookshelf one’s ownprovide an evocative glimpse of their owner’s personal life. Each architect also presents a reading list of top ten influential titles, from architectural history to theory to fiction and nonfiction, that serves as a personal philosophy of literature and history, and advice on what every young architect, scholar, and lover of architecture should read.


An inspiring cross-section of notable libraries, this beautiful book celebrates the arts of reading and collecting.


Unpacking My Library: Architects and Their Books features the libraries of:


Stan Allen

Henry Cobb

Liz Diller & Ric Scofidio

Peter Eisenman

Michael Graves

Steven Holl

Toshiko Mori

Michael Sorkin

Bernard Tschumi

Todd Williams & Billie Tsien


Peter Eisenman’s Recommended Titles:


Robert Musil, The Man Without Qualities

Le Corbusier, Vers une Architecture

Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow

Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture

Rem Koolhaas, Delirious New York

Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology

Andrea Palladio, The Four Books on Architecture

Walter Benjamin, Illuminations

James Joyce, Finnegans Wake

William Faulkner, Light in August


Jo Steffens is director of Urban Center Books and editor of Block by Block: Jane Jacobs and the Future of New York City.