Cover of Design in Detail.

An Essay on Craft.

Process Photography of 11-12 Floral Street

Diagram of Petersen Automotive Museum.

KPF Publishes Design in Detail, Exploring Achievements in Architectural Craft

An in-depth look at 14 of the firm’s most iconic buildings around the world, the volume reveals how the overall design concept is realized down to the smallest scale with crafted elements such as custom-glazed terra cotta tiles, cast bronze art, and carved blocks of stone.

We are pleased to announce the publication of Design in Detail, a new book that showcases the firm’s commitment to design excellence down to the finest detail. These 14 vignettes emphasize the role of the fabricator and highlight the intimate yet complex practice of selecting, manufacturing, and applying materials. Offering over 200 pages of project inspiration, including detail sketches, diagrams, and photographs, Design in Detail pulls back the curtain on the process that defines KPF’s architectural practice.

“This book tells the story of 14 architectural projects from the vantage point of the detail, the aspects of buildings that affect us most – the parts that we see up close, touch, and even interact with,” said James von Klemperer, KPF President. “In the case of most thoughtful design, the part and the whole are closely related. Micro and macro – the brick and the wall, the window and the façade, the shingle and the grand roof – are inextricably linked.”

Case studies include Floral Court in London, a contemporary residential building woven into the existing fabric of a conservation district; the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, which features an undulating steel screen wall inspired by the style and materiality of automotive design; and One Vanderbilt in New York City, where fluted terra cotta spandrels reconcile the scale of the supertall building with its landmark neighbors. The result is a thoughtful demonstration of what it takes to design high quality and contextually sensitive buildings. Design in Detail celebrates the architect as collaborator, investigator, problem-solver, and maker.

“By focusing on craft, we consider the process of construction, including the sources of materials and the skills of people who realize the physical product,” adds von Klemperer. “At the small scale, value is added through inventiveness, sometimes suggesting solutions that could be applied to many buildings, sometimes uniquely related to just one particular circumstance. Through all of this work, we celebrate the ingenuity of those who make buildings, the sustainable qualities of our structures, and the expressiveness of design that leads us to delight in our physical surroundings.”

Design in Detail is available globally for purchase here. To download the press release, please click here.