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How Buildings Learn

I just finished Stewart Brand‘s How Buildings Learn, a thought provoking and deeply inspiring book. I’ve been a fan of Stewart’s for a long time, through the Whole Earth Catalog, The Well, Long Now, and de-extinction, and his writing doesn’t disappoint. I’m not particularly interested in architecture, construction, or interior design, but he manages to bypass all three and find homespun philosophy and powerful insights in topics as mundane as siding materials and gardening techniques. Highly recommended.

Here are a few favorite quotes. On why buildings change (page 238):

The three things that change a building most are markets, money, and water. If you would ensure a building’s longevity, protect it from markets and water, and feed it money, but not too much and not too little.

On as-builts (page 239):

As-builts are building plans that show in detail exactly what was built, which is always significantly different from what was in the original plans. Without accurate as-builts, says Chuck Charlton, “An electrical failure can have you wandering through the building shotgunning circuit breakers and shinnying down the chases.” … If the as-builts aren’t updated constantly, each bit of repair or remodeling, each new contractor, each change of property management makes the plans more misleading. Continue reading

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