George Brown

Along with garden-fresh tomatoes and the comforting thwack of flip-flops on pavement, summer brings the opportunity to delve into a little beach reading. residential architect has combed through the latest offerings of design-related books, choosing a few that may pique your interest in the dog days ahead. Jeremiah Eck's The Face of Home (The Taunton Press, $40), the follow-up to his 2003 book The Distinctive Home, takes a closer look at exterior residential architecture. Using the metaphor of the human face for a house's façade, Eck, FAIA, breaks down this all-important (and often badly bungled) element into five design principles: unifying house and site; balancing mass and scale; relating to the interior; making the design elements work together; and using details effectively. A strong portfolio of 22 houses, each with a helpful key that associates photos with relevant text, supports his points. (Featured firms include Koning Eizenberg Architecture, Fernau & Hartman Architects, and Shope Reno Wharton Associates.) Clients and design professionals will appreciate Eck's lucid prose and his candid treatment of a neglected topic.

Work by another Boston-area architect, Charles Rose, AIA, is the subject of a new monograph, Charles Rose, Architect (Princeton Architectural Press, $40). “Rose's instinct is to reinforce the geometries of the site, at times making the viewers more aware of the landscape than they might have been otherwise,” writes Miami Art Museum director Terence Riley, AIA, in a thoughtful foreword. An overview of 11 projects (including four single-family houses) illustrates this idea. With a luxurious number of pages—as many as 22—devoted to each building, the book provides plenty of room for polished photography, plans, elevation drawings, models, and material and volume studies.

Books on sustainable design sometimes offer so many green possibilities and directions that the reader feels overwhelmed. Architect and Montana State University professor Lori Ryker wisely isolates one key environmental strategy—alternative energy sources—in her useful volume Off the Grid (Gibbs Smith, Publisher, $29.95). She explains the choice of technologies involved in creating a house that produces some or all of its own energy, then offers thorough, well-illustrated case studies of 10 homes by the likes of Lake/Flato Architects, Arkin Tilt Architects, and her own design/build firm, Ryker/Nave Design.

George Brown

Other Notables

Designing & Building: Rockhill and Associates (Tuns Press, $27.95) takes a close look at the modern, regionally influenced work of Kansas architect Dan Rockhill and his firm, as well as that of Studio 804, his graduate design/ build program at the University of Kansas. And in Architecture of Democracy (Rizzoli, $50), architect Allan Greenberg connects the dots between the history of American political traditions and the country's architectural evolution.

George Washington Smith: Architect of the Spanish-Colonial Revival by Patricia Gebhard (Gibbs Smith, Publisher, $39.95)

Lofts 2: Good Ideas, edited by Cristina Paredes Benítez (Collins Design and Loft Publications, $24.95)

Cottage: America's Favorite Home Inside and Out by M. Caren Connolly and Louis Wasserman (The Taunton Press, $34.95)

Out of Town: The Country House, edited by Peter Hyatt (Images Publishing Group, $60)

FOBA/Buildings by Katsu Umebayashi, Thomas Daniell, and Michael Webb (Princeton Architectural Press, $40)

Outside the Not So Big House: Creating the Landscape of Home by Julie Moir Messervy and Sarah Susanka (The Taunton Press, $34.95)

Houses/The Architecture of Nagle Hartray Danker Kagan McKay Penney (Edizioni Press, $40)

Greene & Greene by photographer Marvin Rand (Gibbs Smith, Publisher, $50)