Architect & Developer Books

Books | Architect & Developer | Architect as Developer | Architect Developers | Developer Architects

I’m often asked by architects what books they should be reading when interested getting into development. The truth is there wasn’t anything specific for both an Architect & Developer until I wrote Architect & Developer: A Guide to Self-Initiating Projects {more info}. To really understand the real estate industry, you have to dive deep into real estate books. Unfortunately, there are too many books about real estate, saturating the market and making it difficult to understand what is useful and what is just some guru trying to make a buck with fluff.

I’ve listed a number of books about both real estate and professional practice, which I think would be useful to an education coming from an architectural background. I’ve listed them in order of most useful.

Architect & Developer
by James Petty
After not finding a book that really told me what I needed to know about being both an Architect & Developer, I decided to write one myself. I collected the best information I could find, and interviewed over a dozen architects who had already developed work. I tried to combine stories and hard numbers to really educate the reader. See more information {here}.

Architect as Developer
by John Portman and John Barnett
This is a classic and one of the first books to discuss architects playing a more proactive role in developing their own work. There are only a few pages of juicy text describing the process. The rest talks about Portman’s history and shows off some of his work. It is long out of publication so you will have to find a used copy. The prices were reasonable up until his passing, which skyrocketed the prices.

Professional Real Estate Development: The ULI Guide to the Business
by Richard Peiser and David Hamilton
This textbook is gold. Peiser does a great job covering all of the basics of real estate and presents it in a way that is easy to comprehend. If you only read one in-depth book of how real estate works, this should be it. Peiser goes in-depth on all of the major topics of the real estate industry. The ULI puts out fantastic books that are great for real estate professionals and architects.

Finance for Real Estate Development
by Charles Long
This is another ULI gem, but with a focus on the finance aspect of real estate. Long goes in-depth in various methods of putting financing together to make a real estate deal work. This is also a textbook, so expect a college level education. The content is dense, but presented well.

How Real Estate Developers Think
by Peter Hendee Brown
This very easy to read book talks to real estate developers around the nation and explains why they do what they do. It is filled with fascinating stories and anecdotes that will affect how you see cities. This is less of a text book and more of a good business read. Not a lot of hard numbers, but a lot of great concepts explained. Brown also features Architects & Developers Heyday LA.

Rich Dad Poor Dad
by Robert Kiyosaki
If you talk to anyone interested in real estate, they will tell you that this is this book is the foundation to any education on finance or real estate. If you have never read this book, you need to. It should be required reading in every high school. The book is short and written in a very comprehensible way. It gets to the point on how decisions we make influences our economic lives. This book is about changing your mindset from working for money to having money work for you.

Irrational Exuberance
by Robert Shiller
I love this book. Nobel Prize winning economist Robert Shiller is credited for predicting both the dot-com bubble of the early 2000’s and the Global Financial Crisis of 2008. This is the book he wrote leading up to the 2008 crises where he does a deep investigation of the real estate industry. It is filled with information. If you are interested in understanding risk, this is a great book to start with. It is, however, written for those with a higher level of education. It is pretty dense, but really fantastic.

The Book on Investing in Real Estate with No (and Low) Money Down
by Brandon Turner
The BiggerPockets blog and podcast has published a few books that give an easy to grasp education on real estate for people starting out. Their books are presented for one-person businesses, not large commercial enterprises. If you want to know more about how to get into real estate without using a lot of your own money, start here. Turner’s target audience isn’t architects, but you can interpret a lot of what he presents to your strategy.

Investing in Real Estate
by Gary Eldred
This is a good book to start with before diving into the textbooks. Eldred gives a good big picture view of real estate.

Real Estate Finance for Investment Properties
by William Brueggeman
This is another good textbook on understanding financial instruments for real estate. It isn’t as good or easy to follow along as the ULI books, but is a foundation textbook for real estate at most universities. If you were going to college for real estate, you would have read this textbook.

The Complete Guide to Real Estate Finance for Investment Properties
by Steve Berges
This book is a great read with easy to understand concepts and terms of real estate. It gives you a good basic premise of real estate finance.

The Real Estate Game
by William Poorvu
This book is written with a lot of stories and anecdotes on people in real estate. This is book is used often in real estate courses in MBA programs. Poorvu gives a lot of examples of how people in the real estate industry use various methods to create the built environment.


Professional Practice

Perspecta 47: Money
by Yale School of Architecture
This should be required reading of every student coming out of architecture school (where money is a four-letter word). Perspecta is an academic journal published by Yale’s School of Architecture. In 2014, they released Perspecta 47: Money, which includes many sensational articles on professional practice. It includes interviews with Gregg Pasquarelli, Phil Bernstein, Frank Gehry, and more with various ideas including architects getting into development. I highly recommend picking one up.

Perspecta 37: Famous
by Yale School of Architecture
Another one of Yale’s academic journals, but from 2005. This one has a series of interviews from Robert AM Stern, Greg Lynn, Rem Koolhaas, Zaha Hadid, and more on the topic of professional practice and growth in architecture. If you’re interested in being more than mediocre, this journal is for you.

American Architects and the Mechanics of Fame
by Roxanne Kuter Williamson
Williamson argues that it isn’t family connections, money, or specific schools that predict fame in architecture. Williamson studied six hundred American architects to find the correlation between apprenticeship and later success. She created one of the most beautiful and telling graphics that traces the genealogy of successful architects up until the book’s publication in 1991. It is fascinating to see how connected successful architects are today to those of the past. It also reiterates the importance of interning for the right people when graduating from architecture school. See the amazing graphic at

Architect + Entrepreneur
by Eric Reinholdt
I love this book. If you are thinking of starting a firm or recently have, Reinholdt has some great advice on being successful. This doesn’t have much to do with real estate, but it is a great professional practice book that every young architect should read.

Architect + Entrepreneur 2
by Eric Reinholdt
Reinholdt’s second book in the series is more focused on finding small passive income streams as an alternative of the strait forward architect. There are a number of ideas here, and if you have the inkling for one of them, Eric is great at persuading you to follow through. He talks about creating and selling Plan Sets for online distribution and creating books to self-publish. Full disclosure: I got the idea for creating my book after reading this. That said, to be clear this book isn’t about being a capital A architect.
Back to Top