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101 Things I Learned in Architecture School [Hardcover]

Matthew Frederick
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
RRP: 10.95
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Book Description

9 Oct 2007 101 Things I Learned
This is a book that students of architecture will want to keep in the studio and in their backpacks. It is also a book they may want to keep out of view of their professors, for it expresses in clear and simple language things that tend to be murky and abstruse in the classroom. These 101 concise lessons in design, drawing, the creative process, and presentation--from the basics of "How to Draw a Line" to the complexities of color theory--provide a much-needed primer in architectural literacy, making concrete what too often is left nebulous or open-ended in the architecture curriculum. Each lesson utilizes a two-page format, with a brief explanation and an illustration that can range from diagrammatic to whimsical. The lesson on "How to Draw a Line" is illustrated by examples of good and bad lines; a lesson on the dangers of awkward floor level changes shows the television actor Dick Van Dyke in the midst of a pratfall; a discussion of the proportional differences between traditional and modern buildings features a drawing of a building split neatly in half between the two. Written by an architect and instructor who remembers well the fog of his own student days, 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School provides valuable guideposts for navigating the design studio and other classes in the architecture curriculum. Architecture graduates--from young designers to experienced practitioners--will turn to the book as well, for inspiration and a guide back to basics when solving a complex design problem.

Frequently Bought Together

101 Things I Learned in Architecture School + 50 Architecture Ideas You Really Need to Know (50 Ideas You Really Need to Know series) + How to Read Buildings: A Crash Course in Architecture
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: MIT Press; 3rd (Third) Edition edition (9 Oct 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262062666
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262062664
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 18.7 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,391 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Matthew Frederick is an architect and educator, and is the creator, illustrator, and editor of the 101 Things I Learned series. He lives in Hudson, New York.

To learn more about the series, visit www.101thingsilearned.com.

Product Description


"How to draw a line, the meaning of figure-ground theory, hand-lettering and the fact that windows look dark in the daytimeeach item has resonance beyond architecture. Books like this are brief tutorials in the art of seeing, a skill useful in every aspect of life on the planet." --Susan Salter Reynolds, latimes.com

The winner of a host of prizes, this delicately laid-out book advises students how to approach a number of design principles. Including advice on everything from "how to draw a line" to "how to sketch a one-point perspective of a rectangular interior space" this is a must-have for anyone starting out in the field. --Will Coldwell, The Independent

About the Author

Matthew Frederick is an architect and urban designer who lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He has taught at a number of colleges and universities, including Boston Architectural College and Wentworth Institute of Technology.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful book on writing 5 Aug 2011
This review probably will not pertain to you, probably will not be "helpful". I have little interest in architecture, but I discovered that this book presents me with an extended metaphor for a subject I teach: writing. I've read dozens of books on writing, but I guess I needed to hear old concepts taught in a fresh way, to have then sneak up on me, to see them differently. Maybe that's one reason we read broadly: to discover what we already know and to find new ways of expressing it.

Here are two examples from 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School. Perhaps you will see how they might pertain to writing instruction:


"A tall, bright space will feel taller and brighter if counterpointed by a low-ceilinged, softly lit space. A monumental or sacred space will feel more significant when placed at the end of a sequence of lesser spaces. A room with south-facing windows will be more strongly experienced after one passes through a series of north-facing spaces."


"Denial and reward can encourage the formulation of a rich experience. In designing paths of travel, try presenting users a view of their target - a staircase, building entrance, monument, or other element - then momentarily screen it from view as they continue their approach. Reveal the target a second time from a different angle or with an interesting new detail. Divert users onto an unexpected path to create additional intrigue or even momentary lostness; then reward them with other interesting experiences or other views of their target. This additional "work" will make the journey more interesting, the arrival more rewarding."

#10 reminds me of using foils, and #11 reminds me of using foreshadowing. This book may help my writers who are visual learners, particularly ones that more readily see things spatially.
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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Well-designed emptiness 30 May 2010
By Paul Bowes TOP 500 REVIEWER
This short, postcard-shaped book is organised as a series of short observations about the practice of learning design. It is explicitly aimed at students of architecture: the author touts it as the book he wishes had existed in his own student days. However, it may be read by anyone interested in architecture who wonders how architects are trained to think about the design aspect of their craft.

Each observation stands alone (although a few seem to follow on, the subject always changes after at most two or three connected points), and each is illustrated by a small drawing. The author's views emerge cumulatively. The reader has the choice of reading continuously, or of dipping into the book at random when the need for inspiration strikes. I like books of this kind, which can be powerful when the writer has an original mind that expresses itself naturally in an aphoristic style, so I was well disposed towards this book before I opened it. Three things have remained with me after reading it.

The first is that many of Frederick's observations are not wrong, but rather banal: memorable neither for their content nor for the way they are expressed. Frederick is not an aphorist, and there is not a single thing here in his own words that is as striking as the few - and very worn - quotations he allows from Louis Kahn, Mies van der Rohe and Robert Venturi. Nor are the sketches better than workmanlike. The second is that this is yet another example of an architectural book in which book design has trumped content - the book is more attractive than substantial. The third is that the author offers an unwitting insight into why so many of our modern buildings are bad.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
I bought this book despite some of the existing critics, and after reading it, I can see where some of the harsher remarks came from.

I like the format of the book, and the style of the presentation: it reminds me of those "thought of the day" calendars, in a way. Pick a random page, and you will have a nice drawing and a clear and concise text about a variety of subjects.

My interest in architecture stems from level design for 3d games, so some of the advice was irrelevant, but overall there was enough food for thought that I found the book interesting.

I can see how someone who knows architecture would scoff at some of the remarks. Quite a few of the critics riled against the one on "how to draw a line", for instance. But I think these are quite valid. No matter your domain, sometimes, it's good to be reminded of the basics. You'd be surprised how much is taken for granted, as you advance in your skill. And I've no doubt architecture is the same.

But it's true that from the overall feel of the book, it reads as something aimed at the artchitecture student.
However, if there was an equivalent book for programming, I would probably cherish it. Sometimes, it's nice to just think about an aspect of your art and sort of ponder what you really know about it.
Having somebody throw all sorts of subjects at you might make you discover areas you neglected, and send you on your way to research it some more.

Think of it as a nice stepping stone towards a myriad of more specific subjects.
This is what this book certainly does for me, and in this I think it is very useful.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Brilliant Thank you
Published 1 month ago by Mrs. Sharon Mulroe
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
very handy for my course
Published 1 month ago by nile
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read even outside of architecture
A surprisingly interesting book given that I am not in the building industry. These 101 things can be useful metaphors for other areas.
Published 2 months ago by Sohnee
4.0 out of 5 stars For niece
Published 7 months ago by Gwyneth Welby
4.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful book, but was it really finished?
Graphically, this book is beautiful and the drawings are stellar. However, after having read the book in its entirety, it feels as if something is missing. Read more
Published 8 months ago by northerner
5.0 out of 5 stars Memories!
Bought my university days back! looking through this book made me laugh and think about my first years as an architecture student! I would 100% recommend buying this book! Read more
Published 8 months ago by Aghanloo
Ever since I started architecture last September, I was quite lost and clueless with what the course seemed to offer. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars good collection of maxims
As a relatively young architect (12 years into my professional career) I found this book refreshing. Read more
Published 11 months ago by seventwenty2
5.0 out of 5 stars BRILLIANT!!!
Easiest way to put it... perfect! Teaches you so many things in simple terms. Definitely worth the money! Looking at studying architecture... BUY!
Published 14 months ago by Mr G M R Whibley
5.0 out of 5 stars bought as a present for a student architect
They found it one of the most helpful things to read whilst sat on the loo! Been a great book with loads of helpful bits of information it!
Published 16 months ago by Miss A. A. Roman
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