Most monographs whisk the reader through an architect's portfolio. They provide the opportunity for oohs and aahs, but they often don't contain enough space to take a truly in-depth look at the subject's work.

Tom Kundig: Houses, to be published by Princeton Architectural Press in January, is different. The 176-page book covers just five houses designed by Kundig, FAIA, a principal at the Seattle firm Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects. An informative write-up on each project accompanies dozens of photos, line drawings, hand sketches, plans, elevations, sections, and captions. Insightful essays by the book's editor, Dung Ngo, and by Kundig contemporaries Steven Holl, AIA, Billie Tsien, AIA, and Rick Joy, FAIA, are interspersed throughout the volume. By positioning these essays between case studies rather than grouping them together at the beginning or end, Ngo ensures an even pacing of eye candy and text.

Readers may be familiar with some of the highlighted projects—especially The Brain, Chicken Point Cabin, and Delta Shelter, which are all widely published. But this book examines them more closely, exploring and explaining Kundig's penchant for making mechanical devices—he calls them “Gizmos”—part of a design.

  • Credit: Princeton Architectural Press

It also illuminates the ways in which his personal experiences, including an apprenticeship with the sculptor Harold Balazs and a passion for mountain climbing, have influenced his work. It even showcases Kundig's own, newly finished residence in Seattle, where he continues to push residential design into uncharted territory.