Book details

Understanding Architecture

Its Elements, History, and Meaning

By Leland M. Roth, By Amanda C. Roth Clark

About the Book

This widely acclaimed, beautifully illustrated survey of Western architecture is now fully revised throughout, including essays on non-Western traditions. The expanded book vividly examines the structure, function, history, and meaning of architecture in ways that are both accessible and engaging.

Significant features of the third edition include:

  • Increased global coverage, with new essays on Africa, Japan, China, India, Islamic architecture, and the architecture of the Americas.

  • A new chapter covering twenty-first century architecture.

  • Updated coverage of sustainable and green architecture and its impact on design.

  • Revised historical survey and expanded and illustrated timeline.

  • Thoroughly revised and expanded art program, including more than 650 black and white images–135 new to this edition, and more than 200 line art drawings created by author Leland Roth. A new 32-page, full color insert features more than 50 new color images.

Understanding Architecture continues to be the only text in the field to examine architecture as a cultural phenomenon as well as an artistic and technological achievement with its straightforward, two-part structure: The Elements of Architecture and The History and Meaning of Architecture. Comprehensive and clearly written, Understanding Architecture is a classic survey of architecture.

About the Author

Leland M. Roth is Marion Dean Ross Professor of Architectural History Emeritus at the University of Oregon at Eugene. Dr. Roth is the author of Understanding Architecture (Westview Press, 2013), McKim, Mead & White, Architects (Harper & Row, 1983), America Builds (Harper & Row, 1983), A Concise History of American Architecture (Harper & Row, 1979), and other works.

Amanda C. Roth Clark is Assistant Professor of Art History and Library Director at Whitworth University. She is the daughter of Leland M. Roth, and the co-author of Understanding Architecture, 3rd Edition.


“Superbly illustrated throughout. . . It remains the only text to discuss architecture as a cultural phenomenon, making this a top recommendation. . . . Understanding Architecture is the ideal textbook for classroom curriculums and a very strongly recommended addition to both community and academic Architectural Studies reference collections.”
—The Midwest Book Review

Praise for Previous Editions:

“I enthusiastically recommend this 2nd edition, which includes a comprehensive new chapter on such contemporary architectural trends as postmodern traditionalism, neoexpressionism, deconstruction, critical regionalism, and sustainable architecture. Understanding Architecture is a versatile main text that works well for both general humanities courses and more advanced classes in architectural history.”
Dr. David Seamon, Professor of Architecture, Kansas State University

"Powerful and Moving."
Judith Cushman-Hammer, Appalachian State University