Book & Media Reviews

Periodic Resources
As a reader of WaterShapes, it's likely you appreciate the valuable information published by quality magazines.  I certainly do, so in addition to the steady diet of books I read to keep up on technical and design issues as well as business approaches and philosophies, I also turn to a handful of periodicals for the helpful and inspiring information they have to offer. For one thing, I find that these magazines fill gaps I perceive in my own background.  For another - and even though some of the ones I read run far afield of the industry-specific information I value in trade magazines - I'm uniquely surprised by
Exterior Collaborations
Amazing things can happen when great architects think beyond the walls and tackle exterior design as part of their projects.  That's a message that comes through loud and clear and repeatedly in Susan Zevon's Outside Architecture (Rockport Publishers, 1999). Throughout the book's 190 generously illustrated pages, she covers the work of 18 architects - using multiple examples from each while focusing not so much on individual projects but rather on key features, styles and design philosophies that cut across the range of the fine work on display.  About three quarters of the projects are residential and range stylistically from classic to modern at locations scattered across the United States and Mexico. Nearly all of the architects were new
Those Who Serve
Back in February's WaterShapes, I stepped a bit beyond the usual in discussing Harvests of Joy by Robert Mondavi, noting that I'd read the book based on a recommendation from fellow WaterShapes columnist Brian Van Bower.  I also mentioned that the book was one of the most important I've come across in recent years. This time around, I'd like to review another of Brian's recommended books - one he suggested during a seminar I recently attended and which has also proved to be wonderfully useful and extremely influential:  Samurai Selling: The Ancient Art of Service in Sales by Chuck Laughlin and Karen Sage with Marc Bockmon (St. Martin Press, 1993).   Until I read this book, my sense of what Samurai were all about was based on no more than warrior movies and video games.  What I learned instead is that Samurai based their lives entirely on a concept of service (of which warfare was only a small part).  The authors use the philosophy of the Samurai to define
Views of Pools
Most coffee-table books on swimming pools published to date have dealt almost exclusively with the work of architects and landscape architects.  The past year, however, has seen the publication of three new books about pools - each of them focusing primarily on the work of pool contractors. The result is three books that cover a broad range of styles and designs - a trio I've already found to be extremely useful as
Building by Water
When I first picked up Water and Architecture by Charles W. Moore (published by Harry H. Abrams in 1994), I thought I'd found the perfect resource for those of us who design and build contained, controlled bodies of water.  As I delved into this book's incredibly well-illustrated 224 pages, however, for a short time I worried that the text was mostly irrelevant to the working lives of watershapers. Ultimately, however, I found the text to be very helpful - even if it wasn't in the manner I had initially thought.   I was disheartened initially because the text seemed so broad in its coverage of water and architecture - and so rooted in history and philosophy - as to be of little practical use.  Specifically, Moore deals with subjects as grand as rivers, oceans, harbors and architectural history in very broad and almost
Art of the Ornament
So often it's the finest or most delicate touches that make or break backyard projects - and exploring the constituents of those touches is what Garden Ornament by Linda Joan Smith (Workman Publishing, 1998) is really all about. This beautifully illustrated, 136-page book tackles head on the often overlooked subject of garden ornamentation and, in doing so, pulls back the veil on a remarkably rich set of design touches and specific objects you can use to lend interest to your projects, generate enthusiasm among your clients and, ultimately, give your projects real visual energy. That set of ideas includes items that can be used to add beauty and even
Explaining Architecture
A paperback edition of Francis D.K. Ching's book, Architecture:  Forms, Space and Order, had been sitting on my desk for less than a day when my colleague and friend Mark Webb spotted it and became pretty animated. He started talking about the book in a way that made it seem it was a given that we both should be completely familiar with it.  I had, in fact, just picked up my copy at a used bookstore without ever having heard of Ching or knowing anything about his highly influential body of work. I soon learned that Webb and many other architecture and landscape architecture students (beyond yours truly) read Ching's work early on in their studies.  Feeling as though I'd missed out on something important in my education, I dove into the text and soon came to understand why my friend
Grapes of Joy
In the premiere issue of WaterShapes in February 1999, Brian Van Bower's first "Aqua Culture" column invoked the name of winemaker Robert Mondavi, calling him a role model for watershapers everywhere.   It was a partly surprising place to start a new column, given the fact that Mondavi is neither a contractor, engineer or designer, but Bower, a wine connoisseur as well as a trailblazing watershaper, made a good case for seeing Mondavi's career as a lens through which we might better understand our own. At the time, I didn't completely appreciate the connection between Mondavi and the watershaping trades, but I decided a bit later to pick up the book, Harvests of Joy, and spend some time with it.  Prepared by Mondavi with writer Paul Chutkow, the 364-page book was published in 1998 by Harcourt Brace. I know that this is quite a departure from
Night Vision
The fine points of landscape lighting are the worthy subject of The Art of Outdoor Lighting by Randall Whitehead (Rockport Publishers, Gloucester, Mass., 1999).  It's a wonderful place to begin a journey of discovery:  The text consists of 192 heavily (and beautifully) illustrated pages that break the discipline of lighting design down to several practical areas of concern - and there's a generous section all about ways to light waterfeatures. The verbiage throughout is both brief and focused, leaving most of the space for a parade of beautiful photographs of public and residential spaces.  Simply by flipping through the pages and looking at some of these projects, you begin to see just how much interest and beauty can be created when you think about
Modern Voices
If you feel the same need I do to explore the vast and inspiring reaches of 20th-century structural forms, The Oral History of Modern Architecture by John Peter is a wonderful and enduring resource. Published in 1994 by Harry N. Abrams (New York), this text features more than 100 interviews with modern architects, including in-depth discussions conducted by the author with a group he defines as the "Top Ten" masters of modern architecture. The interviews were conducted in the stretch from 1953 to 1989, and several audio excerpts are provided on a CD that comes as a companion to the printed transcripts.  And it's quite a roster of luminaries, including