Contributed by:
Janet Spees
Assoc. AIA

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Critique: Four Walls and a Roof: The Complex Nature of a Simple Profession

“Architecture differs fundamentally from what architects are taught to expect; it is a pinball manipulated by considerations and interests of which architects are least aware.”

This deep and diverse collection of essays will challenge the reader’s thinking and leave them pondering topics at the core as well as on the fringes of architecture. Four Walls and a Roof is comprised of previously published articles, new essays, and personal experiences from Reinier de Graaf, partner at OMA. The collection is organized into simplistically themed subsections, the most intriguing titled “Powers That Be,” which contains the essays “Royal Authority” and “A Property Developer for President.”

The book candidly discusses the ups and downs of the architecture profession and is best suited for the experienced architect, as it will dispel much of the mysticism and ego-driven narrative that is taught in school. The nearly 500-page book may deter some readers; however, the committed reader will be rewarded with a more developed understanding of the architecture profession and the many forces that have a hand in what we do.


Reviewed by Janet Spees, Assoc. AIA, with Merriman Anderson Architects.