49 Essential Books for Urban Planning and Design in Metro Vancouver

March 15, 2018

With the help of the learned SFU City Program Twitter feed, here is a list of essential readings to help you better understand planning, design and city building in Vancouver and its region. We’ve adapted and updated this list from a previous one published by Revery Architecture (previously known as Bing Thom Architects).

Our list probably has some major gaps, but it's a try. We focus on books that are still in print or somewhat still accessible through local booksellers. While most can be acquired new, previously loved versions may be available through MacLeod’s Books, a Vancouver institution regarded (for good reason) by many Vancouverites as “the last great bookshop.”

For access to the Harland Bartholomew documents, arguably the documents that started the contemporary planning era in the 20th century for the City of Vancouver and the region, please click here.

While we’ve provided links to the books via Canada’s largest online booksellers, please consider (if you are in Vancouver) picking up your copies at a local Vancouver bookstore. Here’s the BTAworks’ study on local bookstores in the City of Vancouver for your convenience. Some much-loved independent bookstores around the BTAworks shop include Black Bond Books, Book Warehouse, Spartacus Books and People’s Co-op Bookstore.

If we inadvertently missed a favourite contemporary book about planning and design in Metro Vancouver, please feel free to send us an email and we’ll add it to the list.

Planning and Design

Berelowitz, Lance. 2005. Dream City: Vancouver and the Global Imagination. Douglas & McIntyre.

Blomley, Nick. 2003. Unsettling the City: Urban Land and the Politics of Property. Taylor and Francis.

Cameron, Ken; and Harcourt, Mike. 2007. City Making in Paradise: Nine Decisions that Saved Vancouver. Douglas & McIntyre.

Campbell, Larry; Culbert, Lori; and Boyd, Neil. 2009. A Thousand Dreams: Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and the Fight for its Future. Greystone Books Ltd.

Coupland, Douglas. 2009. City of Glass: Douglas Coupland’s Vancouver. D&M Publishers Inc.

Delany, Paul. 1994. Vancouver: Representing the Postmodern City. Arsenal Pulp Press.

Design Centre for Sustainability. 2007. Greater Vancouver GreenGuide: Seeding Sustainability. New Society Publishers.

Enright, Robert. 2010. Body Heat: The Story of the Woodward’s Redevelopment. Blueimprint.

Girard, Greg. 2017. Under Vancouver 1972-1982. The Magenta Foundation.

Gutstein, Donald. 1975. Vancouver Ltd. James Lorimer & Company Ltd.

Hayes, Derek. 2005. Historic Atlas of Vancouver. Douglas & McIntyre.

Hern, Matt. 2010. Common Ground in a Liquid City: Essays in Defense of an Urban Future. Ak Press.

Herzog, Fred. 2011. Fred Herzog: Photographs. D&M Publishers Inc.

Herzog, Fred. 2017. Fred Herzog: Modern Color. Hatje Cantz Publishers.

Hutton, Thomas. 2010. The New Economy of the Inner City: Restructuring, Regeneration, and Dislocation in the 21st Century Metropolis. Routledge.

Itter, Carole; and Marlatt, Daphne. 2011. Opening Doors: In Vancouver’s East End: Strathcona. Harbour Publishing.

Kluckner, Michael. 2006. Vancouver Remembered. Whitecap Books.

Kluckner, Michael. 2012. Vanishing Vancouver: The Last 25 Years. Whitecap Books.

Kalman, Harold. 2012. Exploring Vancouver: The Architectural Guide. D&M Publishers Inc.

Kheraj, Sean. 2013. Inventing Stanley Park: An Environmental History. UBC Press.

Lauster, Nathanael. 2016. The Death and Life of the Single-Family House: Lessons from Vancouver on Building a Livable City. Temple Press.

Ley, David. 2010. Millionaire Migrants: Trans-Pacific Lifelines. Wiley.

Luxton, Donald. 2007. Building the West: The Early Architects of British Columbia. Talon Books.

MacDonald, Bruce. 1992. Vancouver: Visual History. Talon Books.

MacDonald, Christopher. 2010. A Guidebook to Contemporary Architecture in Vancouver. D&M Publishers Inc.

Mate, Gabor. 2009. In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction. Knopf Canada.

Metro Vancouver. 2011. Regional Growth Strategy: Vancouver 2040. Weblink.

Punter, John. 2004. The Vancouver Achievement. UBC Press.

Russwurm, Lani. 2013. Vancouver was Awesome. Arsenal Pulp Press.

Stouck, David. 2013. Arthur Erickson: An Architect’s Life. D&M Publishers Inc.

Soules, Matthew. 2013. The Livable Suburbanized City: Post Politics and a Vancouver Near You. Harvard Design Magazine (Weblink).

Stelter, G.A.; and Artibise, A.F.J. 1984. Canadian City: Essays in Urban and Social History. McGill-Queen’s University.

Walsh, Robert M. 2013. The Origins of Vancouverism: A Historical Inquiry into the Architecture and Urban form of Vancouver, British Columbia. University of Michigan Doctorate Dissertation (Weblink).

Winson Liscombe, Rhordri. 1997. The New Spirit: Modern Architecture in Vancouver, 1938-1963. The MIT Press.

Social Histories of Metro Vancouver

Barman, Jean. 2007. Stanley Park’s Secret: The Forgotten Families of Whoi Whoi, Kanaka Ranch, and Brockton Point. Harbour Publishing.

Bown, Stephen. 2008. Madness, Betrayal and the Lash: The Epic Voyage of Captain George Vancouver. D&M Publishers Inc.

Barnholden, Michael. 2005. Reading the Riot Act: A Brief History of Riots in Vancouver. Anvil Press.

Cameron, Stevie. 2011. On The Farm: Robert William Pickton and the Tragic Story of Vancouver’s Missing Women. Knopf Canada.

Chong, Denise. 2006. The Concubine’s Children: Portrait of a Family Divided. Penguin Group Canada

City of Vancouver. 2014.  First Peoples: A Guide for Newcomers. City of Vancouver. Web publication.

Davis, Chuck. 2011. The Chuck Davis History of Metropolitan Vancouver. Harbour Publishing.

Demers, Charles. 2009. Vancouver Special. Arsenal Pulp Press.

Gilmour, Julie. 2014. Trouble on Main Street: Mackenzie King, Reason, Race and the 1907 Vancouver Riots. Allen Lane Canada.

Kazimi, Ali. (2011). Undesirables: White Canada and the Komagata Maru. D&M Publishers Inc.

Kogawa, Joy. (1981). Obasan. Lester & Orpen Dennys.

Purvey, Diane; and Belshaw, John. 2011. Vancouver Noir: 1930-1960. Anvil Press.

Vogel, Aynsley; and Wyse, Dana. 2009. Vancouver: A History in Photographs. Heritage House Publishing.

Weyler, Rex. 2005. Greenpeace: The Inside Story: How a Group of Ecologists, Journalists, and Visionaries Changed the World. Raincoast Books.

Yee, Paul. Saltwater City: Story of Vancouver’s Chinese Community. D&M Publishers Inc.