book report: steven holl explores the idea of 'compression' through a decade of work

book report: steven holl explores the idea of 'compression' through a decade of work

35 of steven holl’s major projects from the past decade have been compiled as part of a new publication released this month (november 2019). considered one of america’s preeminent architects, holl is known for his poetic attention to light, space, and water; a subtle and tactile employment of material and color; and an awareness of architecture’s potential to connect people through public space. featured projects include the recently completed hunters point library in new york and the lewis art complex at princeton university.

steven holl compression book
maggie’s centre barts, london, UK (2011-17)  | image by iwan baan
(main image: institute for contemporary art, richmond, virginia, USA (2011-18) | image by iwan baan



titled ‘compression’, the book is steven holl’s fifth volume in the same format, all published by princeton architectural press, following anchoring (1989), intertwining (1996), house (2007), and urbanisms (2009). compression, which celebrates the 30th anniversary of anchoring, examines the ways holl applies concepts from neuroscience, literature, social science, and philosophy to develop the idea of compression: the condensation of material and social forces to create meaningful and sustainable architecture.

steven holl compression book
lewis art complex, princeton university, new jersey, USA (2007-17) | image by paul warchol



‘in this book, the focus is on the micro: architecture activating the brain and the importance of expressions of inner vision,’ holl explains in a chapter titled ‘non-conclusion’. ‘architecture, planning, and environmental preservation play a decisive role in a positive future. they are antientropic inventions of humanity. the micro scale, the neglected human scale of today, can be reached via the arts and culture of our time.’

steven holl compression book
cite de l’ocean et du surf, biarritz, france (2005-11) | image by iwan baan



the diverse roster of projects also includes an expansion of the museum of fine arts houston, academic facilities for the glasgow school of art, a harbor gateway for copenhagen, and the headquarters of medecins sans frontieres in geneva. see projects by steven holl on designboom here, and visit the princeton architectural press website to order a copy of the book.

steven holl compression book
visual arts building, university of iowa, USA (2010-16) | image by iwan baan

book report: steven holl explores the idea of 'compression' through a decade of work
hunter’s point library, long island city, NY, USA (2010-19) | image © steven holl/steven holl architects

book report: steven holl explores the idea of 'compression' through a decade of work
doctors without borders HQ, geneva, switzerland | image © steven holl/steven holl architects

book report: steven holl explores the idea of 'compression' through a decade of work
parachute hybrids, moscow, russia | image © steven holl/steven holl architects

book report: steven holl explores the idea of 'compression' through a decade of work
compression, published by princeton architectural press



publication info:


name: compression
author: steven holl
publisher: princeton architectural press
price: $40.00 USD
size: 8.5 × 8.5 in (21.6 × 21.6 cm)
type: hardcover, 176 pages
ISBN: 9781616898519

    have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
    all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

    comments policy
    LOG IN
    designboom's comment policy guidelines
    generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
    the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

    what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
    let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

    - please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
    - please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
    - please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
    - please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
    - please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
    (there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
    in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
    the best 100-200 entries too.)

    a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


    a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

    architecture news

    keep up with our daily and weekly stories
    504,283 subscribers
    - see sample
    - see sample
    designboom magazine