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The design of cities and buildings affects the quality of our lives. Making the built environment useful, safe, comfortable, efficient, and as beautiful as possible is a universal quest. We dream about how we might live, work, and play. From these dreams come some 95 percent of all private and public buildings; professional architects design only about 5 percent of the built environment. While much of what non-architects build is beautiful and useful, the ugliness and inconveniences that blight many urban areas demonstrate that an understanding of good architectural design is vital for creating livable buildings and public spaces. To help promote this understanding among non-architects, as well as among those considering architecture as a profession, award-winning architect and professor Hal Box explains the process of making architecture from concept to completed building, using real-life examples to illustrate the principles involved in designing buildings that enhance the quality of life for those who live with them.
To cause what we build to become architecture, we have three choices: hire an architect, become an architect, or learn to think like an architect. Box believes that everyone should be involved in making architecture and has organized this book as a series of letters to friends and students about the process of creating architecture. He describes what architecture should be and do; how to look at and appreciate good buildings; and how to understand the design process, work with an architect, or become an architect. He also provides an overview of architectural history, with lists of books to read and buildings to see. For those involved in building projects, Box offers practical guidance about what goes into constructing a building, from the first view of the site to the finished building. For students thinking of becoming architects, he describes an architect's typical training and career path. And for the wide public audience interested in architecture and the built environment, Box addresses how architecture relates to the city, where the art of architecture is headed, and why good architecture matters.