You Don’t Need to Be an Architect to Take Michael Sorkin’s Advice

A new posthumous book compiles the renowned architecture critic’s lifelong learnings—like how to cut an elegant section, or the insulating properties of glass—but Sorkin’s lessons are far bigger than the built environment.

American architecture critic and urbanist Michael Sorkin dedicated his life to making the world a better place. After he died in March 2020, the New York Times described him as "one of architecture’s most outspoken public intellectuals... a polymath whose prodigious output of essays, lectures and designs, all promoting social justice, established him as the political conscience in the field." 

In other words, he had a knack for colorful takedown, and was known for his lively and uncompromising voice when it came to the built environment.

To Sorkin, architecture was an invaluable tool for change and a way to address social injustices. While most of his designs were unbuilt conceptual studies, including proposed master plans for the Brooklyn waterfront and the Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem, they inspired countless architects to rethink the impact they could have on the world.

From Princeton Architectural Press, Two Hundred and Fifty Things an Architect Should Know compiles the lifelong learnings of renowned architecture critic Michael Sorkin. 

During the course of his expansive and diverse career—he was a teacher, an architect, a planner, and of course, a critic—Sorkin composed a now-iconic collection of pithy one-liners that comprise essential knowledge for aspiring and established architects alike, urban planners, or just curious individuals. Originally an essay and then produced as a poster, it has now been published posthumously by the Princeton Architectural Press as Two Hundred and Fifty Things an Architect Should Know.

Sorkin’s musings range from the practical, like familiarizing yourself with the color wheel, or the energy embodied in aluminum, to more existential topics, like what makes you happy. All in, the book, available now for preorder and out November 2, offers a multitude of takeaways that will at the very least enrich your own creative practice, and at the very best, will bring new perspective to your life.

Two Hundred and Fifty Things an Architect Should Know
From iconic architect and critic Michael Sorkin comes a joyful celebration of architecture and city-making, told through his famous list, in one beautiful, illustrated book.  Equal parts poetic, practical, playful, and wise, Two Hundred and Fifty Things an Architect Should Know presents a...

14. How to lay bricks

32. The direction of prevailing winds

38. The color wheel

76. The pleasures of the suburbs

77. The horrors

118. The capacity of white pine trees
to sequester carbon 119. Where else to sink it

203. Which way the wind blows

204. The acoustical properties of trees
and shrubs

220. The acoustic performance of Boston Symphony Hall

233. Straw-bale building technology

250. The golden and other ratios


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