George Brown
George Brown

With the economy still struggling and many firms a tad slow, the best getaways for the dwindling days of summer may be located among the work and ideas of architectural colleagues—the price of entry stamped clearly on the dust jacket. Here are a few to help fill your downtime through early fall.

Environmental awareness can mean many things, but for James L. Cutler, FAIA, and Bruce E. Anderson, AIA, principals of Cutler Anderson Architects, it's about listening to the materials they use and the sites for which they design —and revealing the true nature of each through their architecture. Searching for True: Cutler Anderson Architects (Rizzoli New York, $85, September 2009), by Cutler and Beth Wheeler, explores the firm's design approach via 22 projects, including 16 houses. Organized by site context (forest, field, suburb) rather than building type, the book reveals through photos, drawings, and essays the inherent truths the Bainbridge Island, Wash.-based firm has discovered within each locale.

For a different, yet equally engaged, approach, pick up Think/Make: Della Valle Bernheimer (Princeton Architectural Press, $40) by Andrew Bernheimer, AIA, NCARB, and Jared Della Valle, AIA, LEED AP, of Della Valle Bernheimer in Brooklyn, N.Y. A continual “feedback loop” of thinking and making fuels the partners' architectural process, as exemplified by the 12 projects shown. For them, thinking with their hands—as well as their minds—leads to better buildings.

Those who thrive on extremes may relate to the experimental architects and designers highlighted in Phyllis Richardson's XS FUTURE: New Ideas, Small Structures (Universe, $29.95, September). Each advances beyond accepted building practices, testing new materials and using existing ones in new ways to create structures that explode definitions and perceptions. In essays and photos, the book showcases nearly 50 radical, small-scale projects that straddle the worlds of art and architecture. For more extreme architecture that verges on art, check out Shigeru Ban: Paper Architecture (Rizzoli New York, $65, October). Here Ban delves into his portfolio of innovative paper structures, among them permanent and temporary houses, exhibition spaces, museums, and disaster-relief projects.

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Readers on the hunt for something to challenge preconceived notions and dearly held ideals may be interested in architect/critic Jeremy Till's Architecture Depends (The MIT Press, $24.95). Till, RIBA, dean of London's University of Westminster School of Architecture and the Built Environment, posits that rather than existing on a plane of perfection above the mess of the everyday world, architecture is shaped by circumstances outside the architect's control, and that architects are in denial about this condition. He proposes a way to bridge the gap, arguing that architects must accept this dependency as an opportunity.

Also available for summer browsing: Ruin: Photographs of a Vanishing America (Down East Books, $65), by Brian Vanden Brink, and Vernacular Architecture and Regional Design: Cultural Process and Environmental Response, by Kingston Wm. Heath, Ph.D. (Elsevier Architectural Press, $80.95).

wright then To mark the 50th anniversary of the completion of Frank Lloyd Wright's most iconic building, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, several publishers have released new titles on Wright's work. They include:

Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward , essays by Richard Cleary, Neil Levine, Mina Marefat, Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer, Joseph M. Siry, and Margo Stipe (The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and Skira Rizzoli, $75)

George Brown

Frank Lloyd Wright: American Master , text by Kathryn Smith, photography by Alan Weintraub (Rizzoli New York, $30)

Frank Lloyd Wright: The Heroic Years: 1920–1932 , by Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer (Rizzoli New York, $60)

Frank Lloyd Wright, 1943–1959, The Complete Works , by Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer, edited by Peter Gössel (TASCHEN, $200)

The Guggenheim: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Making of the Modern Museum , essays by Hilary Ballon, Luis Carranza, Pat Kirkham, Neil Levine, and more (Guggenheim Museum Publications, $65)

Communities of Frank Lloyd Wright: Taliesin and Beyond , by Myron A. Marty (Northern Illinois University Press, $45)

Frank Lloyd Wright Revealed , by Rebecca King (Compendium Publishing, $15)