(re)Viewing 100 Contemporary Architects

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“An architecture book is read three times.” At least that’s what one of my professors used to say, while I was doing my undergraduate studies at the School of Architecture of the University of Puerto Rico. The first read is all about browsing through the images, the second time involves going back to certain images and reading the blurbs of information, and the third time is when the reader picks up the book and reads sequentially from start to finish. TASCHEN’s new book, 100 Contemporary Architects, is a classic example of a book that fits that three-fold read to a T.

Composed of two volumes of beautiful pictures and chronicling architects and designers in alphabetic order, while featuring information translated in English, German, and French, TASCHEN curates a list of leading architects whose works have helped put the field of architecture into the spotlight. 100 Contemporary Architects is a memoir of celebrated architectures throughout the past 10 years, a selection of architectural projects that are featured in Taschen’s Architecture Now! series.

Perhaps one of the most successful things about it, aside from its easy-to-read character, is that while it still boasts some of the most renowned names in contemporary architecture, from Alto to Zaha, shining through its star-studded pages the reader can also find modest projects that exemplify a certain humane sensitivity inherent to architecture that is regrettably often forgotten by designers themselves.

I was glad to notice that 100 Contemporary Architects incorporates other disciplines that although are undoubtedly related to buildings, begin to blur the line between architecture, poetry, and art. Collaborations with Damien Hirst, Anish Kapoor, and Olafur Eliasson, who rightfully earn themselves a shout-out in the book’s introduction, are paradoxically enough some of the most memorable projects in its pages. Well, for me anyway.

And so I’d like to think that even though TASCHEN is known for publishing many books on architectural buildings, it’s starting to break down the constrictive barriers that the architecture field has confined itself in, by branching out and looking to see architecture as something more inclusive than mere wood, glass, concrete, and metal and including other projects from the arts.

Don’t get me wrong, if the book were a film, right there in its rolling credits, the first name you’d see is Frank Gehry (it’s up to you whether that’s an asset or a nuisance); it still gives credit to the contemporary architects that have shaped the way the architecture discipline is taught and carried out, but it seems to be headed into a more inclusive direction in its future issues.

Of course, only time will tell whether this is wishful thinking or not, but for now, 100 Contemporary Architects accomplishes what it set out to do: provide architects, students, and enthusiasts of the discipline with a well-rounded overview of the projects and figures that launched the field of architectural design into the 21st century.

by Regner Ramos

100 Contemporary Architects is published by Taschen and costs £17.99

About The Author

Regner Ramos

Glass Magazine Architecture, Travel, and Culture Writer

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