Architectural Project Book

September 5, 2013 — 19 Comments

An “Architectural Project Book” is a little like an architectural portfolio but for for grownups … and you give them away.

One of the projects we took on this summer (with the help of one of our summer interns) was the creation of an Architectural Project Book. This project book in short is a small book that highlights selected projects from the firm in a manner the is mostly graphic, includes a lot of photos, some drawings, and a little bit of firm information. We make these books as leave-behinds when we go meet with potential new clients. Despite the fact that most people these days find their way onto the firms website, there is something to be said about having a book that has project photos and project graphics combined together. It helps tell a more complete story about what’s going on architecturally.

I thought I would show everyone part of our most recent Architectural Project Book – we’ll start with the packaging, show a few project pages, and end on the “Firm Info” page. If you want to see any of these project images a little clearer, just click on the image and a larger graphic will open showing what we sent to the printer.

Michael Malone Project Book packaging

Michael Malone Project Book cover

Michael Malone Project Book Fifield Roseberry Residence

Michael Malone Project Book Fifield Roseberry Residence

Michael Malone Project Book Lyday Farms Residence

Michael Malone Project Book Lyday Farms Residence

Michael Malone Project Book Raven Lake Ranch

Michael Malone Project Book Raven Lake Ranch

Michael Malone Project Book 'About MMA'

Some of the specifics for our project book are as follows:

8 in. x 8 in.
One piece leather bound cover with custom dye black-foil image
Parchment fabric
52 pages total
7 Featured Projects with each project getting 6 pages
49 total photographs
6 floor plans
2 process sketches
1 Firm information page
$$$ – more than I wanted to pay

I really like these project books and despite their enormous cost, you don’t have to print a hundred of them. In our case we keep it in double digits and are fairly frugal with who we leave them with [sorry garage expansion projects, you get a business card, my undivided attention, and unlimited access to our company website].

Of course, you are free to dream up your own use for these sorts of books. THere are a handful of sites online that are ready and more than willing to help you create your own album. I’m not going to say where we had our made, I don’t want it to come off as an endorsement. If you’re interested, I bet, with the tiniest bit of effort, you can not only find some options available, you can probably find the one we used to print our books.


Bob signature

Fifield Roseberry project photography by Steven Vaughan and Greg Blomberg
Lyday Farms and Raven Lake Ranch project photography by Jud Haggard

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  • Alison

    The design looks great! A project book is something we’ve been meaning to do for a while now. If it’s not too much of a bother, would you share the information for the book printing and binding? Thank you.

  • Sara Tetley

    I would like to create a project book and am hoping you will also send me the source you used to print and bind your project.

  • pandix

    I love it! I made a project book on iphoto a few years ago when I was planning to go back to a “big firm” for more stability (as a portfolio). I gave them to people that interviewed me and it was way better than a CD. When I decided to continue with my own practice instead, I put the rest (I ordered too many) in my office and seems to be a great way to show what I do to potential clients. Plus my mom loved it! she thinks this means I got published (ha!) I like the style of your book, looks very high quality! Could you share who printed it out for you?

    • I just emailed the web site address to you – cheers

  • Jean-Yves Mesnil

    Great idea 🙂

  • Mark Mc Swain

    Actually, for the “garage expansion” customers, take and burn the same book opn a CD, with a full-color lable with firm info & logo upon that.
    Used to be a decent, if quiet, market in rwo-genration’s-ago Jump/Flash drives. You could get these too-cheap/small-to-sell-anymore by the gross. Which were very handy fo Company resume & RFQ submittals. With the fillip that you could even add a “please feel free to use the drive however you wish” rwith the submittal.
    (There’s a slight possibility that the expense of going to all those Tom Peters branding seminars was not wasted.)

  • Very well done, Bob. I think people still appreciate having a book to sit down with and explore. There’s something about paper that meshes so beautifully with design. I’m glad to see businesses make a return to some traditional practices.


    • Thanks Kathy – I know what you mean about holding a book in your hand. Despite the plethora of data and information available to us online, I still like my books.

  • Bill Reeves

    ok, I am getting really old. When I first started in this business in the ’70’s, firms had brochures. When work slowed down we all worked on parts of the brochure to bring it up to date. When we went to sit down with a new client, we had a spiral bound document to place in front of the client to impress the stuffings out of them. We mostly imagined the client taking one look and tossing it over their shoulder.


    • Yes – I imagine the same thing happening but I hope it doesn’t.

      We used to have a nice leather box of photos that we would pull out and that was eventually replaced with an iPad. Now we have bound books of images – and while we don’t print out so many that everyone gets one, at the very least, there is a certain thrill for the clients whose homes make the book. We also like the fact that it is sort of a project history – a milestone of what has come along the path to this point.

      • Bill Reeves

        the photography is wonderful. The book looks well done. I’m sure the clients enjoy it too.

      • Mark Mc Swain

        You probably ought to look at making a “book-of-the-build” to go with whole-house customers. Something that documents the forming of the building and the whys & wherefores (and even the warts); something which can stay with the house to infroms future owners/caretakers.

  • Courtney Price

    What a gorgeous book. Looks like it is well worth whatever it cost.

    • Thanks Courtney – I really appreciate that. My desktop photos don’t really do it justice and I wish the size was a tad bit larger … but that’s the designer in me. No matter what we had done, we would evaluate it critically with an eye towards making the next ones.

      Onward and upward! (or downward if you consider how expensive these things are)

  • Michael Rollins

    Bob, this is a beautiful book. Despite being an architecture student and not necessarily having a “client” to show them to, I love putting together works like this. As a master’s student I’m required to put something similar together for my thesis project. Unfortunately, I haven’t had much luck with online publishers in the past so I’ve generally stuck with hand-bound/printed books. Yours, however, looks like it came out well! That was a lucky intern that got to work on that project.

    • Thanks Michael – these are the sorts of projects that bring us back to our time in school where it is almost a pure design exercise. The fact that the intern got to work on it and do the heavy lifting was a pretty sweet gig. We try to make sure that the interns get value from the time they spend here and we try and make sure that we are able to get real production from them.

      Other than quantity being difficult, the hand-bound book sounds wonderful

  • Wojciech Kulicki

    We put together something similar a few years ago, and potential clients have been blown away by actually walking away with a physical book. It helps that our clientele is mostly older, “traditional” kinds of people.

    Yeah, the cost is definitely more than we’d like to pay too, running at the very least around $15 a book for thin softcovers and all the way to almost $100 for some of the larger hardcovers. But I consider it marketing money well-spent! 🙂

    • My wife has been using one particular online service for the past few years to make family photo books but when I was researching to make one for the office, it was hard to find a brand that isn’t resplendent with the manufacturer’s logo. That is, unless you are willing to pay to have it removed. The cost seems prohibitive to produce in large quantities which seems silly.

      People do seem to like them quite a lot, that’s for sure