Perhaps it should have been called 'Zen and the Art of Building'.... I hadn't come across this book before, although I think it may be required reading for architecture students. Having come from a design background myself I found it interesting.
It's long winded and often waxes lyrical, but the basic premise states that buildings are not for enhancing the egos of architects, but instead, they are for the people who use and live in them. So far, so good. Alexander also reveals how the patterns of activities carried out within a building are either helped or hindered by it's architecture, again, fairly predictable. He points out how certain buildings feel 'alive' while others are 'dead' spaces.
The book goes on to explain how to achieve what Alexander calls 'the quality with no name' which brings a building, even a whole city, to life. It's a very organic process, achieved without the detailed plans normally involved in construction. I love the idea of building in this way, but I'm not surprised it's not widely practiced. How long will the project take? How do you budget? Maybe he covers all that in one of his other books!