Design library: Penguins and Penn Station

Doggerel is always on the lookout for good books about design and the built environment. Verity Relves, an Arup librarian in Solihull, UK, pointed us to a list started by engineers in her office eager to stock the shelves with inspirational reading.


Our Iceberg Is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions
By John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber

A fable about penguins penned by a Harvard Business School professor and a management consultant teaches lessons about thriving amid uncertainty.

Structures: Or Why Things Don’t Fall Down
By J. E. Gordon

Naval architect turned materials science professor J. E. Gordon explores links between structures ranging from bridges to bat wings.

Bridges: Three Thousand Years of Defying Nature
By David Brown

The former editor of The Arup Journal picks out superb bridge projects around the world.

The Subterranean Railway: How the London Underground Was Built and How It Changed the City Forever
By Christian Wolmar

From the author’s website: “The Subterranean Railway celebrates the fantastic achievement of the Underground’s pioneers, who created a transport system that was not only unique in the world but also was vital in creating the London we know today.”

Christian Wolmar The Subeterranean Railway

The Landscape of Contemporary Infrastructure
By Marcel Smets and Kelly Shannon

From the book jacket: “Around the globe the importance of infrastructure as the motor of economic development is rising owing to increasing mobility and the need to make urban territories accessible. As a result, infrastructure networks are among the most complex and significant design tasks today.”

Conquering Gotham: A Gilded Age Epic: Building Penn Station and Its Tunnels
By Jill Jonnes

A lively tale of politics, money, and infrastructure in Gilded Age New York.

Building the 21st Century Home: The Sustainable Urban Neighbourhood
By David Rudlin and Nicholas Falk

The authors, leaders of the nonprofit URBED (Urbanism, Environment and Design), discuss the evolution of British cities since the Industrial Revolution and offer suggestions for making them more attractive and humane.

The Other Taj Mahal: What Happened to the Sydney Opera House
By John Yeomans

“Why should I have chosen to write a book on such a maddeningly complicated subject?” the author wrote. “Primarily because the ridiculously melodramatic history of this beautiful building has always fascinated me… and I find it vaguely comforting to be reminded that despite all the witlessness and cruelty of Homo sapiens, he is still capable of conceiving, planning and constructing a marvelous thing like the State Opera House, Sydney.”

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