‘Two Hundred Fifty Things an Architect Should Know’

Book Design

Our 2020 holiday greeting reprints the classic design essay by the architect, critic and educator Michael Sorkin.

Every holiday season since 1971, Pentagram has designed and published an annual greeting for friends, colleagues and clients. Usually centered around a game or activity, the small books are intended to provide a diversion during the hectic holiday period. With much of the world on lockdown in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a moment of reflection felt more appropriate.

The 2020 holiday card reprints “Two Hundred Fifty Things an Architect Should Know,” an essay by the celebrated architect, critic and educator Michael Sorkin. Taken from his 2018 book What Goes Up, the piece functions as an inventory, or checklist, of observations, tips and bits of advice. Written for fellow designers, it has lessons for everybody and offers a holistic philosophy for living that keeps the world in mind. The card is intended as a tribute to Sorkin, who died of complications of Covid-19 on March 26, 2020, at the age of 71, and is reprinted with the permission of his wife Joan Copjec.

In the list, Sorkin's wit, humor and insight are captured in straightforward suggestions like "How to design a corner" to more meditative proposals like "How to get lost," to lines that run together like a poem and consider the entire design process:

39. What the client wants.

40. What the client thinks it wants.

41. What the client needs.

42. What the client can afford.

43. What the planet can afford.

(See the full list online here.)

Several entries are illustrated with imaginative red-and-black line drawings by Chris DeLorenzo, who also created a portrait of Sorkin. Typography is set in Danmark (by A2-Type) and Söhne (by Klim Type Foundry).

A limited number of copies are available while supplies last. To receive one, simply provide proof of a donation of any size to Terreform, the non-profit center for urban research founded by Sorkin to advance the ideas that shaped his life’s work. Make your donation here, then forward a copy or screenshot of your donation receipt to

Design & Architecture
Book Design
New York
Michael Bierut
Project team
Britt Cobb
Chris DeLorenzo, illustrator
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