From the BWAF Bookshelf
From left: Women, Practice, Architecture: ‘Resigned Accommodation’ and ‘Usurpatory Practice’; A City for Children: Women, Architecture, and the Charitable Landscapes of Oakland, 1850-1950; A History of Design from the Victorian Era to the Present.
The June 2014 Bookshelf includes a recently illustrated paperback of a landmark survey of modernity in various fields of design; an exploration of an early American intersection between architecture and social justice, in which women played a pivotal role; and scholarship on the amorphous quality of the woman architect’s image and how it is mediated by popular portrayal.
By Ann Ferebee with Jeff Byles
W.W. Norton & Co. (July 2011)
A unique cross-disciplinary survey of design history, A History of Design from the Victorian Era to the Present offers a concise overview of the modern milestones of architecture, interior design, graphic design, product design, and photography from the Crystal Palace of 1851 to the iPhone at the turn of the twenty-first century. This abundantly illustrated volume traces modern design across continents and cultures, highlighting the key movements and design traditions that have shaped the world around us.
From the whirlwind of innovation that gripped Victorian England at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, the book details design’s rich evolution through more than a century and a half, including Art Nouveau’s breathtaking ornament, the “new vision” of the Bauhaus, the rise of the International Style, and postmodernism and contemporary currents in the graphic arts and landscape architecture. Major design figures are framed against a background of evolving aesthetic idioms. Especially attuned to how technological innovations catalyzed daringly conceived skyscrapers, bridges, and cantilever chairs, the authors also chart the impact of technical advances in the disciplines of industrial design, typography, and photographic portraiture.
This new edition of a classic text first published in 1970 expands coverage to include developments in design over the last forty years, with emphasis on its global reach, the impact of the digital revolution, and new trends in sustainable design that will shape the century to come.
By Marta Gutman
University of Chicago Press (September 2014)
American cities are constantly being built and rebuilt, resulting in ever-changing skylines and neighborhoods. While the dynamic urban landscapes of New York, Boston, and Chicago have been widely studied, there is much to be gleaned from west coast cities, especially in California, where the migration boom at the end of the nineteenth century permanently changed the urban fabric of these newly diverse, plural metropolises.
In A City for Children, Marta Gutman focuses on the use and adaptive reuse of everyday buildings in Oakland, California, to make the city a better place for children. She introduces us to the women who were determined to mitigate the burdens placed on working-class families by an indifferent industrial capitalist economy. Often without the financial means to build from scratch, women did not tend to conceive of urban land as a blank slate to be wiped clean for development. Instead, Gutman shows how, over and over, women turned private houses in Oakland into orphanages, kindergartens, settlement houses, and day care centers, and in the process built the charitable landscape—a network of places that was critical for the betterment of children, families, and public life. The industrial landscape of Oakland, riddled with the effects of social inequalities and racial prejudices, is not a neutral backdrop in Gutman’s story but an active player. Spanning one hundred years of history, A City for Children provides a compelling model for building urban institutions and demonstrates that children, women, charity, and incremental construction, renovations, alterations, additions, and repurposed structures are central to the understanding of modern cities.
*Read the BWAF Blog about this book and the questions it gives rise to about women exploring architectural applications of social justice here.
By Naomi Stead
Routledge (July 2014)
The image of the architect is undeniably gendered. While the male architect might be celebrated as the ideal man in Hollywood romantic comedies, blessed with practicality and creativity in equal measure to impeccable taste and an enviable lifestyle, the image of the woman architect is not so clear cut. While women have been practicing and excelling in architecture for more than a hundred years, their professional identity, as constructed in the media, is complex and sometimes contradictory. This book explores the working lives and aspirations of women in architectural practice, but more than this it explores how popular media – newspapers, magazines, and websites – serve to define and describe who a woman architect should be, what she should look like and how she should behave. Looking further, into the way that professional characteristics are reinforced through awards like the Pritzker Prize, the book demonstrates how idealised characteristics such as sensitivity and vision are seen to be neither entirely masculine nor feminine, but instead a complex hybrid owing much to historic concepts of genius. Drawing on history, sociology, media analysis and feminist theories of architectural practice, the book will be of interest to all of those who seek to better understand the image and identity of the architect.
This book was published as a double special issue of Architectural Theory Review.
Excerpts of the descriptions were obtained from the publishers’ and booksellers’ websites (book titles are linked to sources as well as points of purchase).
*Photo Credits: Photos were obtained from publishers’ websites.