Product Details
A Visual Dictionary of Architecture

A Visual Dictionary of Architecture
By Francis D. K. Ching

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Product Description

The classic, bestselling reference on architecture now revised and expanded!

An essential one-volume reference of architectural topics using Francis D.K. Ching's signature presentation. It is the only dictionary that provides concise, accurate definitions illustrated with finely detailed, hand-rendered drawings. From Arch to Wood, every concept, technology, material and detail important to architects and designers are presented in Ching's unique style.

  • Combining text and drawing, each term is given a minimum double-page spread on large format trim size, so that the term can be comprehensively explored, graphically showing relations between concepts and sub-terms
  • A comprehensive index permits the reader to locate any important word in the text.
  • This long-awaited revision brings the latest concepts and technology of 21st century architecture, design and construction to this classic reference work

It is sure to be by the side of and used by any serious architect or designer, students of architecture, interior designers, and those in construction.

Product Details

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #81589 in Books
  • Published on: 2011-09-06
  • Released on: 2011-08-18
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: 11.95" h x .61" w x 9.00" l, 1.90 pounds
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 336 pages


  • Francis D.K. Ching

Editorial Reviews Review
A Letter from Author Francis D.K. Ching

Author Francis D.K. Ching

The idea for a visual dictionary of architecture evolved slowly over a number of years as I taught in the design studio, read books and articles, and confronted terms that were either new to me, were being used in sometimes contradictory ways, or simply tossed out with the assumption that everyone knew what they meant. And so I often asked myself what did these terms really mean?

Of course, there were already general dictionaries that supplied these meanings if one bothered to look them up, and for more discipline-specific terms, there were architectural, historical, and construction dictionaries available. But few had more than a smattering of illustrations. And since architecture is such a visual art, I believed there was a need for a truly visual dictionary. The few visual dictionaries that were available simply named various things and their constituent parts but neglected to supply definitions and meanings. So there was this void to be filled.

The initial phase of the project, of course, consisted of gathering essential architectural terms and their definitions from various sources. For many, I had to reference textbooks to more fully understand the meaning of a term and then to compose a concise yet accurate definition. At times, defining one term required including other terms embedded in the definition. This led to a natural nesting of terms into sets.

As I continued to compile terms and thought about the project, it became clear that I wanted to not only properly define architectural terms but also gather them in a way that related the terms to each other in a logical and hierarchical way, using both illustrations as well as relative positioning on a page to convey these relationships. So then the truly challenging and fun part of the project was to see how I could organize the terms in such a way that their groupings into sections and subsections made sense.

To do this, I started with fairly obvious divisions, such as design and structures. Once the fundamental term was defined, I then arranged related terms in a hierarchical fashion. For example, design can be defined both as a process and a product, which led to two different sections. In the case of structures, I began with the basic idea of a structure and related concepts that applied to all structures, regardless of material or scale. The second level of terms began with basic types of structural elements, such as arches and beams, and structural systems, such as frames and plate structures, each of which deserved its own section.

Historical terms created its own set of problems regarding inclusion and proper placement. While some terms may be considered obsolete, they remained, in my view, useful as points of reference or retained a certain charm.

Once I had identified the major sections of the dictionary and assigned each term to one of the sections, I imported them into Pagemaker and began laying out the terms and definitions on each page according to their relationships to each other.

I then printed the page out and laid tracing paper over the page and roughed out ideas for illustrations. In many cases, this necessitated moving some of the terms and their definitions around. I then did the final drawings for each page on a single sheet with leader lines and arrows. After these sheets of drawings were scanned, I placed the scans in Pagemaker and adjusted the terms and definitions further to fit. In this second edition, I used Photoshop to eliminate the leader lines and arrows and used the lines and arrows within InDesign. This gave me some leeway in the placement of the images.

It has been a pleasure to develop this second edition and I hope the spirit and flavor of the first edition endures the inclusion of current technology.

It is the only dictionary that provides concise, accurate definitions illustrated with finely detailed, hand-rendered drawings . (Ad-Hoc-News, 22 November 2011)

From the Back Cover

Presented in Francis D.K. Ching's signature style, this long-awaited Second Edition of A Visual Dictionary of Architecture is a remarkable, one-of-a-kind compendium that combines textual definitions and hundreds of superb line drawings to illuminate a comprehensive body of essential terms in architecture, including important interrelationships between building components. Grouped by themes, such as history, systems, structures, forms, construction, environmental issues, and behavior, all terms have their visual complement and can be readily accessed in a number of different ways.

Whether you're an architect, interior designer, construction practitioner, or simply interested in the field of architecture, A Visual Dictionary of Architecture, Second Edition provides an authoritative source of information for tracking down an elusive word—and a delight for simple armchair browsing.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful.
5Fantastic Resource
By Kevin C. Still
Worth every penny. Having the diagrams along with definitions and examples really helps clarify architectural elements and vocabulary. Highly recommend.

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful.
5Great reference tool!
By Afelle
Priceless addition to the serious architecture student's reference library.Any book by Dr. Ching is a worthwhile investment in your education.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful.
3Attractive but difficult to use
By Be Moore
Unnecessarily artistic in its design and layout. I wanted a rather easy to use reference manual. Something with pictures and definitions. Arranged like a reference book. This is a pretty book and is enjoyable to browse but not so useful for quick occasional references.

See all 18 customer reviews...