101 Things I Learned in Architecture School – Matthew Frederick

I’m not a student of architecture and never have been, but have always loved architecture enough to have more than a superficial interest in the way space is designed. To study architecture is a huge commitment as there are so many disciplines in which you have to skilled and learned, yet it still requires a nebulous approach because it is a creative field.

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Anyway, the book. Billed as a guide to demystifying and simplifying some of the complex things a student is likely to encounter at architecture school. True or not, I doubt it has the requisite depth to be more than a pointer or an inspiration to get your thoughts moving in that case.

But that, I believe, is the point of this book. It serves as an interesting series of thought points you can dip in and out of to kick start your brain. Many of the points do relate to architecture or the design of space, but many are also broader design and thoughtful principles. I enjoyed the depth of stuff like “The most effective, most creative problem solvers engage in a process of meta-thinking, or thinking about thinking” and the simplicity of “If you can’t explain your ideas to your grandmother in terms she understands, you don’t know your subject well enough.”

Many of the principles are described with thoughtful illustrations and a particularly nice sense of wit. “When introducing floor level changes, avoid the Dick Van Dyke step.” Describing that a single step between floor levels is rarely sufficient to create a meaningful differentiation of space.

So, this isn’t going to teach you how to do anything. But for anyone who works in and around design principles, I think you’ll enjoy some of the wisdom captured in this nice simple format.

Title | 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School
Author | Matthew Frederick
Publisher | The MIT Press
Publish Date | 2007
ISBN | 978-0-262-06266-4

Reviewer | Steven Bennett-Day

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