Jacket Blurbs Vol. III

Short shout outs to favorite titles

Ex libris Catapult Thinking

The Timeless Way of Building

Christopher Alexander

©1979 Oxford University Press

A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction

Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, Murray Silverstein

©1977 Oxford University Press

The quality without a name.

These two books propose a new theory of architecture (and design in general) that relies on the understanding and configuration of design patterns. Described by one reviewer as “books on philosophy with architectural examples,” they work together to offer a primer on European architectural memes. By closely (ridiculously closely) observing the time-worn character of rooms, buildings, yards, compounds, squares, neighborhoods and communities, Alexander crafts a grammar for describing the residual learning that places possess after lives have flowed through them. Day after day after year after year over centuries. Black and white photos, thumbnail sketches and poetic prose sustain this design trance over a combined 1,700 pages. Flip either book open to any section and bold face koans invite consideration. “In every room where you spend any length of time during the day, make at least one window into a ‘window place’.” By using the built environment as a palette for us to behold life at a human scale, the books invite consideration of people and their needs, the foundation of design thinking.

– Mike Mooney


“There is a central quality which is the root criterion of life and spirit in a man, a town, a building, or a wilderness. This quality is objective and precise, but it cannot be named. To reach the quality without a name we must build a living pattern language as a gate. This quality in buildings and in towns cannot be made, but only generated, indirectly by the ordinary actions of the people, just as a flower cannot be made but only generated from the seed. All acts of building are governed by a pattern language of some sort, and the patterns in the world are there, entirely because they are created by the pattern languages which people use.”