I love this book, which I return again and again as a marvelous tool for observing and thinking about my surroundings, with a great sense of poetry to boot. Published by Oxford University Press in 1977, authors Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, and Murray Silverstein with Max Jacobson, Ingrid Fiksdahl-King, Shlomo Angel) sought to identify essential, enduring design problems--or "patterns" (of which they identify 253)--and ways of approaching/solving them distilled from functionally and experientially rewarding places, ancient to modern. In so doing they hoped to empower everyone, not just professional architects and builders, to create and improve the spaces around them.
This book is worth owning for the list of patterns alone--- which includes large-scale elements but also such intimate ones as "sitting wall," "pools of light," "sunny counter," "child caves." If just reading the list of 253 patterns doesn't inspire you to think more critically and creatively about your own domestic and work spaces, as well as about your street, town, city, etc. I don't know what would. Really a special book.
This copy was owned by an artist, architect and librarian who worked at the MIT art and architecture library. The paper cover is quite worn and the back flap has torn off. The book itself is in very good condition, with a bit of underlining in pencil on the first few pages, but otherwise very clean. I love that it has this history, and imagine that he referred to it quite a lot!