Design Library: How to Architect

May 9, 2014

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Design Library Volume 08: How to Architect

Year: 2012

Category: Architecture

Author: Doug Patt

Publisher: The MIT Press




The word “architect” is a noun, but architect, entrepreneur, author and teacher Doug Patt likes to use it as a verb.


Patt is a registered licensed architect in Pennsylvania. He earned his degree from Penn State University, and has practiced in the field for close to two decades. During that time he also received his masters from The University of Pennsylvania and taught in the architecture programs at Pennsylvania State University and Northampton Community College. Pratt currently is a consultant in high-end residential architecture, and runs the popular website and YouTube Channel “How to Architect.”


In 2012, Patt published a book by the same name. How To Architect is an extension of Patt’s online video series and site, teaching readers the ABC’s of architecture. He goes through each letter of the alphabet, highlighting a specific term in each chapter that he feels is relevant to the practice of architecture. Some terms are exactly what you’d expect to find in a book about architects – terms such as Assymmetry, Building Codes, Design, Form, Invention and Proportion. But Pratt goes beyond architecture lingo and introduces the architecture culture with terms such as Ego, Kevin Bacon (turn’s out the actor’s father is an architect), Quirky and Zeal.


Looking to the familiar comfort of his drafting pencil, Patt introduces each chapter with a hand-drawn illustration and hand-lettered title. Additional illustrations, photographs and images further demonstrate Pratt’s ideas on architecture.


Together, the text and imagery of this A-Z index offer a realistic look at the glorified and the gritty sides of the profession.



The Odeon of Pericles at Athens



Left: University of Pennsylvania Library, Frank Furness / Right: The Provident Life & Trust Company Building, Frank Furness



Glass House, Philip Johnson


How to Architect is a quick and easy read. We finished the 125 page soft cover book during the short flight from La Guardia, NY to Toronto. This book is for those fascinated by architecture, those aspiring to become an architect, and those established architects needing a fresh perspective on the work they do.


Visit and watch Doug’s online video series for more on the subject. Here are some of our favourites:


Understanding Architecture (see Part 3, 6 and 9)

Draw Like an Architect (see Part 1, 2 and 5)

Could You Be an Architect? (see all)


Also check out Architecture and Design and Influential Architects for profiles on key industry professionals (past and present).


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