Feature: From the BWAF Bookshelf: Our Advisors as Writers

For our May bookshelf selection, BWAF pays tribute to some of our trustees and advisors who have written books about architecture and its influence on modernism and everyday life.

Book covers from left to right: Victoria Rosner’s “Modernism and the Architecture of Private Life,” Beverly Willis’ “Invisible Images” and Gabrielle Esperdy’s “Modernizing Main Street.” ^

Modernizing Main Street: Architecture and Consumer Culture in the New Deal

Gabrielle Esperdy, Ph.D.
The University of Chicago Press: Chicago (2008)

This book examines the Depression-era, American built environment. Part architectural history and part social history, Modernizing Main Street demonstrates that the design of storefronts was very much interwoven with the social and political forces of the time. Esperdy concludes that burgeoning consumerism and the Depression transformed the storefront into a rhetorical staging of recovery and progress.
View book information from the publisher.

Modernism and the Architecture of Private Life

Victoria Rosner, Ph.D.
Columbia University Press: New York (2005)

In this work of literary criticism and theory, Rosner lends her analytical eye to the relationship between modernism and the domestic sphere. She highlights the participation of modernist literature in the creation of an experimental, embodied, and unstructured private life, which we continue to call “modern”. Synthesizing modernist writings with architectural plans, room designs, and art, Rosner explores how modern British writers and designers collaborated in redefining the form and meaning of middle-class private life.
View book information from the publisher.

Invisible Images: The Silent Language of Architecture

Beverly Willis, FAIA
National Building Museum: Washington DC (1997)

In this book about the relationship between observation, imagination, and invention, Willis discusses her own work to explain the silent, but powerful, visual language of architecture and design. Willis argues that the repository of images stored in our memories creates a vocabulary that “connects observer and observed, reinforcing or challenging subjective experiences and unconscious preferences through instantaneous and often intense reaction.”
View book information from

^ Photos Credits: Images have been obtained from publishers’ websites.

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