Reading Architecture: A Visual Lexicon

The language of structures explained in a visual dictionary

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The comprehensive language of architecture has been mastered by only a select few. While many of us may have a basic grasp from that freshman survey course, most would be hard-pressed to identify the difference between Roman and Greek doric columns, let alone identify the “squinch” on modern high-rise buildings. Reading Architecture, a new book by Owen Hopkins, aims to demystify the lexicon in a wide-ranging breakdown of architecture’s most important terminology.


Utilizing floor plans, diagrams and photographs of famous constructions, Hopkins takes the reader through building types from the classical to the modern era before delving into structures and architectural elements. The final section comprises a quick-reference glossary of architectural terms. Reminiscent of a child’s visual dictionary, the book may seem light to architectural historians, but it more than informs the curious neophyte.

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Hopkins has a knack for selecting architectural structures with an array of complexity, breaking down the elements in laymen’s terms. “Reading Architecture” marks the first title from the young architectural historian and curator, his straightforward approach the perfect primer for a European tour.