10 Best Architecture Gifts Ever

What to give an architecture enthusiast

You can buy anything for anybody these days. That doesn't help us choose. Here are some suggested gifts for architects and builders, new homeowners and old house rehabbers, and anyone with a fascination for buildings and design. Some of the gifts are serious, some are comical or unusual, and check out the gifts you can eat! You'll know you've found the perfect present when you are tempted to buy an extra—for yourself.

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Architecture Trips

People queuing by Pyramide du Louvre in Paris. The glass pyramid was designed by I.M.Pei
People queuing by Pyramide du Louvre in Paris. The glass pyramid was designed by I.M.Pei. Photo by Harald Sund/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Give the gift of learning. Treat your loved one with a museum pass or guided tours to great buildings around the world.

Travel can be the most romantic gift ever. "For our anniversary, my husband treated me to a night in a converted lighthouse," writes our friend Angelica. "We stayed at the East Brother Light Station in Point Richmond, California. We went there by boat, toured the lighthouse, ate a huge dinner, and drank champagne."  Some travel you'll never forget.

An architect friend agrees that a seaside vacation is the right ticket. An appreciation of nature gets the cobwebs out of the professional head filled with designs.

LEGO Rockefeller Center - LEGO Architecture Series
LEGO Rockefeller Center - LEGO Architecture Series. Image courtesy Amazon.com

There's a word for the LEGO master who has already run through the LEGO Architecture Series Kits. The AFOL is officially an Adult Fan of LEGO, and the passionate AFOL builder has more options than complex kits of iconic buildings. Design your own. Build cities. Go see the movie. More »

This Pennsylvania-based company sent us some samples—chocolate T-squares and protractors in a 7-inch blueprint tube—and now we're hooked. The concept is in the packaging, so everything's a bit pricey. We received an "architectural themed" gift, but they also sell paint buckets of cookies, chocolate bolts with real nuts (get it? nuts and bolts), chocolate CFL light bulbs and  incandescent bulbs filled with chocolate chip cookies, and tons of individual chocolate pieces (shaped like windows, drill bits, rebar—you name it) that you can order in bulk. We met the owner, Lynn Mamakos, at the 2016 architecture EXPO in Philadelphia, and she showed off her Giant Toolbox of treats—which we quickly compared with the Grand Toolbox. No comparison. Every item is inventive and fun. "Designed for every industry & every sweet tooth," says their little catalog, which you can view online.  We bet you can't eat just one....

Barcelona chair in the lobby of the Four Seasons Restaurant in 2015
Barcelona chair in the lobby of the Four Seasons Restaurant in 2015. Photo © Jackie Craven

The world's great architects didn't just design buildings -- they also created chairs, tables and sofas. Several companies offer reproduction furnishings by Charles Edouart Jeanneret, Mies van der Rohe, Marcel Breuer, Eileen Gray and other designers. Explore our extensive listing of Famous Furniture. More »

Woman looking at digital rendering on computer screen
Woman looking at digital rendering on computer screen. Photo by Mint Images - Tim Pannell / Mint Images RF / Getty Images

Computer Aided Design programs for pros can be complicated, but there are plenty of simple computer programs geared for home hobbyists. Download these applications and spend the holidays creating easy floorplans, landscapes, and 3D images. More »

Frank Lloyd Wright Max Hoffman Rug Business Card Case Holder
Frank Lloyd Wright Max Hoffman Rug Business Card Case Holder. Image courtesy Amazon.com

There's no limit to the items made with Frank Lloyd Wright designs. Shop for ties, cuff links, pens, stationery, coasters, paper weights and mouse pads. Shown here is a business card case with the pattern of a rug Wright designed in 1957 for the Max Hoffman house in Rye, New York. Buy the case (not the rug) on Amazon.
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American Bungalow Magazine
American Bungalow Magazine. Image crop courtesy Amazon.com

Is your special person a Bungalow lover? Give a subscription to American Bungalow magazine. For every architectural interest there is a publication—Browse our magazine directory for top picks.

Buy on Amazon More »

Building Big by David Macaulay
Building Big by David Macaulay. Image crop courtesy Amazon.com

People who love skyscrapers will be awed and inspired by glossy photo books of the world's tallest buildings. Our listing includes books on Classical, Art Deco, Expressionist, Modernist, and Postmodernist buildings... some with fold-out and pop-up pages.

For the more serious minded, a seasoned architect may enjoy a book about a town with interesting but unfamiliar buildings. New ideas are always appreciated.

Skyscrapers not your interest? Try Gift Books for Castle Lovers. Surely no work of architecture is more photogenic than a castle. These lavish books are filled with lush photos of castles and castle-like structures from medieval to modern times.

Shown here is Building Big by David Macaulay, 2000
Buy on Amazon More »

King Kong movie with Fay Wray, Two-Disc Special Edition
King Kong DVD. Image cropped from Amazon.com

Since the dawn of Hollywood, high rises have played leading roles in the movies. If you're not a fan of film fiction, check out our lists of documentaries—Movies About Architects and Movies About Architecture. Otherwise, here are some of our favorite skyscraper films available for the home market, from Metropolis to Entrapment. More »

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Architecture Pop-Up Books

Cat Sleeping With a Paw on an Open Pop-Up Book
Cat Sleeping With a Paw on an Open Pop-Up Book. Image by Catherine MacBride / Moment / Getty Images (cropped)

If you think pop-up books are just for children, check out these sophisticated titles. With detailed artwork and complex "paper engineering" these fascinating pop-up books are sure to delight adult readers.

 

 

Lasting Suggestions:

"No, no, no!" an architect friend tells us. "This list is better described as gifts people think architects like. These are the gifts we open and are frustrated by. I can't think of a single architect who would rather have say, a Frank Lloyd Wright popup book from Costco, than a lesser known book that is relevant to their particular practice or research interests. The point is that you should ask them what they like, specifically, then make an appropriate selection. The same goes for architecture vacations, or furniture, or anything else listed here. Even better, give them something that has nothing to do with their profession altogether, but that fits another of their interests, like camping gear or western novels."

For the homeowner, a treasured space can turn into a work of art. Call your local arts organization to locate an artist who will sketch or paint an original house portrait. Or, hire a photography studio to process a photo of the house onto canvas.

For the professional, the best gift for an architect is praise for his done work, and if it's publicly acknowledged, there is nothing more appreciated.