After almost 50 years led by the inimitable Bill Stout, William Stout Architectural Books began 2023 under new ownership—the Eames Foundation. Though no longer presiding daily over the architectural must-visit, must-browse, must-walk-away-with-a-long-sought-volume bookstore, Stout’s influence and contributions to architects residing in the Bay Area—and far beyond—continues.
Launched by Stout and Stephen Holl, FAIA, in 1974, and originally operated from an apartment in the Telegraph Hill area of San Francisco, William Stout Architectural Books is a study on how a single individual can serve, influence, and perceive new ways to support the design community.
The initial group of the bookstore’s titles was Stout’s personal collection, selected with the expertise and eye of a practicing architect, which, prior to fostering the creation of what has become an iconic cultural landmark, Stout was.
Over decades, he expanded the ambitions and offerings of his namesake, accumulating a massive but always insightfully curated catalog—70,000 volumes in all; concurrently, the bookstore’s patron base grew far beyond the bounds of the Bay Area. When some tomes Stout sought proved inaccessible, he founded William Stout Publishers to reprint important, out-of-print books as well as essential new titles on architectural theory, architecture and landscape. (An endeavor made riskier as readership of hardcopy books in the mainstream plummeted.)
“Through these endeavors, you became the undeclared mentor of generations of architects searching for a reliable source of inspiration and rigor for their own pursuits of excellence. Your role in bending Bay Area architectural design toward modernism is immense. Your influence has extended beyond the profession, as well, elevating the decisions of patrons of architecture in San Francisco and beyond,” observed AIA California and Monterey Design Conference (MDC) committee when Stout was honored at the conference in October.
In addition to the physical bookstore, the Eames Institute acquired William Stout Publishers. Stout himself will continue as a consultant to the iconic enterprises that bear his name.