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The Architecture of Patterns by Paul Andersen and David Salomon (Book Review)

By Maria Lorena Lehman — Get more articles like this sent to your email HERE.

Title: The Architecture of Patterns by Paul Andersen and David Salomon

URL: The Architecture of Patterns (affiliate link)

Purpose: to explain how redefining pattern today can unleash new developments in architecture that lead toward greater evolution in building design, instead of merely repetitive building design. This book explains how rethinking patterns is key.

Does How You Perceive Pattern Really Make a Difference?

This book, entitled The Architecture of Patterns (affiliate link) by Paul Andersen and David Salomon, proves to be a quite fascinating read. You will immediately see, upon opening the book, just how patterns play a significant role within architectural design — both as they were thought of in the past, and in how we need to continue re-thinking “pattern” as we strive to direct architecture into new realms.

The authors point out how patterns are inherently playing a part in how we “see”. And the more we engage in perceiving patterns, the greater our chances are in creating design “interactions” as opposed to simply just the design of “things”. (Andersen and Salomon, p 47) I find such notions made within this book to be quite appropriate when considering where architecture has been, and where it is now headed.

As we delve into designing architecture that is more dynamic, transient and personalized, we as architectural designers need to re-think not only how we see pattern, but also how we integrate it within our built environments — as it does affect the very people that we design for, and it does become the very fabric by which our buildings behave to ultimately engage with them.

Patterns that Allow for Greater Variety and Diversification

This book will take you along a journey which begins by exploring how patterns have made their way into our world through both things and environments. Andersen and Salomon look at how pattern has evolved over time, and how with each step in its evolution it has yielded breakthroughs to better the lives of the people that use them.

Interestingly, The Architecture of Patterns (affiliate link) also takes note of why there is a “silence on patterns”, where designers shy away from them due to their fleeting and seemingly unstable nature. But Andersen and Salomon go on to further explain just how the very makeup of patterns, when thought of through new lenses, bring with them characteristics like connection, variability, diversity and new kinds of flexibility. I think more books like this should emerge where authors take on new perspectives that help us to further explain to ourselves the merits of architectural “properties” that have been not fully understood, or maximized for the particularities and challenges of our own evolving era.

In an age where our buildings are headed toward being more sensitive places, I do agree that patterns maintain certain qualities that allow certain architectural stimuli to “vibrate” (Andersen and Salomon, p. 96 ), where it is becoming possible for buildings to yield an elasticity through zones that can create new kinds of architectural differences and same-nesses. As you read this book, you will see these and other examples that deconstruct pattern for architecture in order to help you, the reader, re-consider it for its untapped potential.

Another nice thing to see in this book are the use of case studies to really drive home concepts about how patterns can be reformulated, being seen from different angles to create architectures that are more intelligent, while also embracing both the static and fleeting — which, in the past, has often been thought of as two separate entities which could not exist together.

I highly recommend this book to you, for I think it will help you to see how integral patterns are — going beyond the most obvious use of patterns today, delving deeper to explore the architectural make-up of patterns across multiple disciplines, by pulling from other realms like graphic design, industrial design and even cultural anthropology. I like how Andersen and Salomon explain how patterns make for easier translation, which yields better communication. And as such, patterns also are more malleable as they can more easily be changed on the fly. Reading this book will give you a deeper level of understanding into just how and why this occurs.

The Architecture of Patterns Should Be on Your Shelf

In the end, I do think that this is a worthwhile book to read. It will expand your knowledge about how patterns are interwoven within architecture, and how such patterns can exist in realms beyond the visual — into all of our senses, and ultimately into all of our cultures.

At 133 pages, this book is a must-read, and I am glad that I have it on my shelf. It is filled with wonderfully integrated color images that reinforce the concepts being explained within the book. And it is nice to see a book where the illustrations are as important as the text, teaching how you can “see” patterns in new light, to understand more about our evolving perception of them, and inspiring you to incorporate them anew into your architectural designs.

To buy, or learn more about, the The Architecture of Patterns, please click here. (affiliate link)


1) Andersen, Paul and Salomon, David. The Architecture of Patterns. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2010.

Disclosure: Please note that the book entitled The Architecture of Patterns was provided to me for free by the publisher for the purposes of this book review publication.


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Maria: I came across your website through a reference in today's Architect Weekly ezine and am delighted I did. I'll bookmark your site and check back often. I read the first article and then the second and thirty minutes later realized how much time had passed. I've been practicing for thirty years and have always missed the stimulation of academia. I find each of your brief dissertations sort of like a day in design studio. Thanks for the inspiration.

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AI Group Design
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McLaughlin Architect
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Maria Lorena Lehman is a multi award-winning visionary author, designer, and educator from the United States. Maria holds a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from Virginia Tech and a Master in Design with Distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. CLICK HERE to learn more.

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