The Bartlett School of Architecture


Bartlett Professor Wins Major Book Prize

30 June 2023

The 21st Edition of Sir Banister Fletcher’s Global History of Architecture, edited by The Bartlett’s Professor Murray Fraser, has won a Special Prize in the World Architecture Festival's 2023 Architectural Book of the Year Awards. 

Image: Interior perspective of Itimad ad-Daula's Tomb, Agra, India (1622–28; painting by an unknown Indian artist in the 1830s).

The Banister Fletcher book was first published in 1896, and rewritten periodically. The 21st Edition was rewritten by 88 leading scholars from around the world, and edited by Prof Fraser. It offers the most comprehensive and up-to-date survey of the architecture of all regions over the past 5,500 years. It creates what is the most globally balanced and culturally inclusive account of architectural history to date. This new edition of the book was the result of a five year research project undertaken by Prof Fraser and managing editor Catherine Gregg.

The Architectural Book of the Year Awards were launched this year for the first time. Winners have been announced in several categories, with an overall winner to be announced in the autumn, ahead of the World Architecture Festival at the end of the year. However Sir Banister Fletcher’s Global History of Architecture (Bloomsbury/RIBA/University of London) was recognised outside the scope of the existing award categories and their subjects, and awarded a special prize.

Remarking on the award, the chair of the judges, Paul Finch, Programmes Director for the World Architecture Festival, wrote:

The 21st edition of this classic work, in two impressive volumes, is testament to the ongoing commitment to continuity of architectural publishing and to the history of an increasingly complex subject.”

The book was previously awarded the 2020 Colvin Prize by the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain, and received an Honourable Mention in the 2020 Dartmouth Medal by the US Society of Librarians as an outstanding work of reference. 

This edition of the Global History of Architecture has achieved an impressive reach to date, aided by online access to the book. Publisher Bloomsbury Press confirmed that in 2022, 40,000 individual readers made approximately 275,000 online visits to view chapters in the 21st Edition's digitalised version. These readers were primarily students who accessed the book via 253 institutional subscriptions at various universities across the world. The book's previous edition as published in 1996 took two decades to reach a total of 25,000 copies.

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Image: Interior perspective of Itimad ad-Daula's Tomb, Agra, India (1622–28; painting by an unknown Indian artist in the 1830s).