written by:
photos by:
November 10, 2008

One of the many joys of the very small San Francisco neighborhood of Jackson Square—home of Dwell HQ—is the top-drawer William Stout Architectural Books, the city’s premiere spot for design books and magazines.  Located on Montgomery Street for the last 20 years, and in existence for over 30, Stout was founded by architect and unrepentant bibliophile William Stout.  He and I sat down this morning to discuss what’s on tap for William Stout Publishing—the small publishing arm of the company—why architecture books can be so damn unwieldy, and architect Stephen Holl’s rather suspect culinary skills.


With 2008 coming to a close, which books of the last year have most impressed you?

You know I’m not in the bookstore as often as I used to be, but I’ve noticed a lot of Le Corbusier books this year, especially that big one from Phaidon, Le Corbusier Le Grand.  It’s well done, but it’s too big [it weighs 20 pounds].  For the size and the price it’s not too bad, but it’s stupid to make the book so big.  Taschen loves to make big books, and others have followed suit, but those books don’t need to be so big.  They’re too tough to handle.  There was also a nice book this year on a Morandi exhibit at the Met in New York. 


So what’s on tap for you in 2009?

I have a new warehouse over in Richmond, California, and I’m in the very early stages of trying to figure out how to put together a research center for my writers.  I’ve got 2500 architecture monographs and another 1500 books of architectural theory.  We’re just figuring out how this is all going to work.

Could members of the public visit once it’s ready?

Well, I suppose if you called ahead and we made sure that I was there.  I have some really old and valuable books.  I wouldn’t want just anybody going through them.


What can we expect from William Stout Publishers next year?

We’ll be doing a book on Dan Kiley and his writings.  He was a great modern landscape architect, better than Thomas Church, I’d say, a true modernist who did a lot of work with Eero Saarinen.  We’re doing another on Crombie Taylor, a history of his life.  And another that won’t be ready until the end of the year is about Gordon Drake, a Bay Area architect, maybe the most important of the 50s and 60s.  I have about 70 percent of his archive; most of the photos were taken by Julius Schulman.  Most of the books we do aren’t that popular. I haven’t been known to take on very successful titles.

You had a now rather famous architect helping out in the early days of your bookstore.

Stephen Holl and I were roommates up on Montgomery Street many years ago.  He didn’t have much work then and helped me open the store.  He used to work there.  We’ve been good friends ever since.  I just talked to him yesterday and I’m going to China soon to see some of his new buildings, the horizontal skyscraper.

Was he a nice roommate, a good cook maybe?

He doesn’t cook very well.  I’d call him an inventive cook, but I wouldn’t call him a good one.

ws upstairs


Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

A renovated brick house with metal standing-seam roof in Arlington, Virginia
With a new skeleton, a brick house on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., gets an eco-friendly upgrade—without losing its local charm.
May 05, 2016
simpler times australian vacation home vertical wood cladding
Robust materials and a flexible floor plan help the owners of an Australian vacation home reap maximum rewards.
May 05, 2016
sweet virginia vacation smart home facade granite stucco mahogany siding
This vacation home fosters connectivity in every sense of the word.
May 05, 2016
monkey see monkey do japan living dining room custom kitchen island stove vent eames chairs
And views of the wildlife aren't bad either.
May 05, 2016
Martis Camp 141 in Truckee California
Martis Camp 141 celebrates it mountainous surroundings with local materials.
May 05, 2016
havart 170
Updating standard pieces, designer Gaëtan Havart turns a misused space into a vibrant kitchen.
May 04, 2016
tech support stillwater dwellings prefab exterior napa
In Napa, a custom menu of apps helps a frequent traveler keep track of security—and his garden—from afar.
May 04, 2016
home for good renovation montreal family rear facade steel cladding footbridge garden
This family opens up an old structure and imagines a long-term house.
May 04, 2016
BKLYN DESIGNS 2016 location
From panel discussions to virtual reality demonstrations and more, this weekend will bring out the designer in everyone during BKLYN DESIGNS at the Brooklyn Expo Center in Greenpoint from May 6-8, 2016. Here are just a few activities and installations to check out.
May 04, 2016
cbill timmerman photography jarson residence l7c4109 0
After a successful kick-off program in San Diego, we’re now making our way to Scottsdale, Arizona for the second stop on our Dwell Home Tours series. As the only desert locale on our agenda, we’re giving visitors the chance to explore exquisite modern residences that are fully immersed in the city’s arid landscape.
May 04, 2016
Modern winery in Central California
An updated California winery captures a prestigious architecture award.
May 03, 2016
back to the garden rhode island cottage small space facade landscaping
Outside Providence, Rhode Island, a little retreat takes up no more space than a standard two-car garage.
May 03, 2016
White staircase with skylight and under-stair storage
With clever storage and a retractable skylight, a London apartment feels larger than its 576 square feet.
May 03, 2016
Off-the-grid prefab in pristine Tasmanian landscape by Misho+Associates.
In Tasmania, an eco-conscious architect builds a vacation home that can stand up to an untamed island.
May 03, 2016
30degree pendants by wrong.london
The Danish design brand never disappoints.
May 02, 2016
practical magic brooklyn renocation kitchen caesarstone countertop stainless steel ikea cabinetes green vola faucet
A creative couple flips the script on their family home, a former workman’s cottage on the northern edge of Brooklyn.
May 02, 2016
history lesson kansas city outdoor backyard facade porch saarinen round table emeco navy chairs
An architect pushes the vernacular architecture of Missouri into the modern realm.
May 02, 2016
mission possible san francisco renovation facade exterior french doors cedar
A dilapidated lot in San Francisco gets a second chance.
May 02, 2016
Eames Demetrios of Kcymaerxthaere
The Eames scion and "geographer-at-large" traverses the globe on behalf of Kcymaerxthaere, a network of markers and monuments that tells fictional tales about real-life communities.
May 02, 2016
marcel breuer architect letter office kansas city snower house
See a glimpse into the office of a master architect.
May 01, 2016
Santa Monica living room with an Yves Klein coffee table
Dwell editor-in-chief Amanda Dameron talks us through Dwell's May 2016 issue.
May 01, 2016
house that sottsass built maui hawaii memphis group home renovation ettore facade colored volumes
In Maui, of all places.
May 01, 2016
two of a kind padua italy matching family homes facade green roof doors color
For Dwell's annual issue dedicated to dream homes , we visited homes from Haiti to Italy. Here, we introduce you to the photographers and writers who made it happen.
April 30, 2016
Every week, we highlight one amazing Dwell home that went viral on Pinterest. Follow Dwell's Pinterest account for more daily design inspiration.
April 30, 2016
W House living room
Our best reader reactions this week.
April 29, 2016
Vineyard house illuminated at night
Rammed-earth construction fuses this Portuguese house to the environment.
April 29, 2016
vintage Scandinavian furniture Kathryn Tyler
In southwest England, interior designer Kathryn Tyler built her home around her ever-expanding furniture collection.
April 29, 2016
steel facade home Seattle
On the sandy shores of Fauntleroy Cove in Seattle, renowned firm Olson Kundig Architects crafts a subtle home with striking steel accents.
April 29, 2016
seperate piece renovated guesthouse eames storage unit cork floor tiles living room
An architect and an interior designer put the tools to the test for this impressive renovation.
April 29, 2016
Ceramics by WrenLab
Manhattan doesn’t get to have all the fun during NYCxDesign. Brooklyn is set for the return of BKLYN DESIGNS at the Brooklyn Expo Center in Greenpoint from May 6-8, 2016. Here are just a few exhibitors we are excited to see this year.
April 29, 2016