The undulating forms and mismatched shapes of Frank Gehry. The fluid deconstructions of Zaha Hadid. The quirky glass geometries of Rem Koolhaas.

Rebelling against the traditional architectural tropes of the 19th century, 20th-century architects such as Gehry, Hadid, and Koolhaas established a new normal that was anything but. “With strategies of explosion, collision, and fragmentation,” writes Joseph Giovannini in the prologue to Architecture Unbound, a coffee-table book that explores design in the 1900s, “architects were introducing forces that dislocated architecture’s system of thought and construction predicated on gravity.... The buildings worked, and they worked well, but perhaps their highest and best function was to fascinate.”

They say not to judge a book by its cover, but you’d be forgiven for judging this one, which fascinates as much as the buildings in its pages. The futuristic, trapezoidal design, by Pentagram’s marvelous Abbott Miller, sets the tone for an exploration of architecture’s wilder shores and the minds behind them. The result is a compelling history of architecture’s avant-garde. —Julia Vitale