What Architecture Means: Connecting Ideas and Design, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

What Architecture Means

Connecting Ideas and Design, 1st Edition

By Denise Costanzo


300 pages

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What Architecture Means introduces you to architecture and allows you to explore the connections between design ideas and values across time, space, and culture. It equips you to play an active and informed role in architecture either as a professional or as a consumer, client, and citizen. By analyzing famous and everyday buildings while presenting and questioning the positions of important architects and theorists, this book will help you to evaluate and decide what qualities, ideas, and values you believe are important in architecture.

You'll learn:

-How various definitions of "architecture" establish different relationships with all buildings, and even non-buildings;

-How buildings express and accommodate ideas of the sacred, the family, and the community;

-What an architect is, and what priorities they bring to design and construction;

-How an architect’s expertise relates to that of the engineer, and why these are distinct disciplines;

-About values like beauty, originality, structural expression, and cultural memory and their purpose in architectural design;

-About the interests and ethical values that architects, and architecture, serves and promotes.

Topics include sacred spaces, the house, the city, architects and engineers, aesthetics and design, originality and method, technology and form, memory and identity, and power and politics.


"Inclusive, richly conceived, visually and substantively informative—Denise Costanzo presents the beginning student of architecture with a deft presentation that weaves history and theory into a compelling saga that will both fascinate and inspire." - Harry Francis Mallgrave, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Illinois Institute of Technology, USA

"What Architecture Means provides a three-dimensional view of the people, places, and powers of architecture—from its fundamental roles to its highest ambitions. Costanzo interweaves technical and pragmatic matters with aesthetics and ethics, provoking an exploration of the reader’s own architectural interests, values, and aspirations." - Korydon Smith, University at Buffalo, State University of New York, USA

"Approachable and engaging, What Architecture Means offers readers the conceptual tools to investigate their own built environment and decide for themselves what architecture really means, and what it could aspire to for the future." - A. Krista Sykes, PhD, author of The Architecture Reader and Constructing A New Agenda, Cambridge, USA

"While most books on architecture tend to illuminate the subject by means of illustrations and descriptive texts alone, Denise Costanzo’s profoundly revealing approach explores how conceptual thinking in design impacts on the final results. What Architecture Means looks at buildings and spaces from their sources of inspiration, the designer’s intent, the culture’s evaluation, and the user’s response. This is an essential book for anyone who is curious about how human habitat is conceived and its significance." - James Wines, President of SITE New York and Professor of architecture at Penn State University, USA

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements Preface Introduction: What is "Architecture"? Part I: Where is Architecture? Divinity, Domesticity, Community Chapter 1: Sacred Spaces Chapter 2: The House Chapter 3: The City Part II: Who Makes Architecture? Builders, Professionals, Artists Chapter 4: Architects and Engineers Chapter 5: Aesthetics Chapter 6: Originality Part III: What is Architecture About? Physics, Places, People Chapter 7: Structure and Form Chapter 8: Memory and Identity Chapter 9: Power and Politics Conclusion: Two Films, Two Architects, Your Ideas Image Credits Bibliography Glossary Index

About the Author

Denise Costanzo is an assistant professor of architecture at The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, USA. During 2014-2015 she was the American Academy in Rome’s Marian and Andrew Heiskell Post-Doctoral Rome Prize Fellow in Modern Italian Studies.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ARCHITECTURE / Design, Drafting, Drawing & Presentation
ARCHITECTURE / Methods & Materials