28 books like The Women Who Changed Architecture

By Jan Cigliano Hartman (editor),

Here are 28 books that The Women Who Changed Architecture fans have personally recommended if you like The Women Who Changed Architecture. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Understanding Architecture

Laura Dushkes Author Of The Architect Says: Quotes, Quips, and Words of Wisdom

From my list on architecture for non-experts.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was young, my parents gave me a book of quotations. I was hooked. Now I’m the solo librarian for NBBJ, a design firm with 12 offices worldwide and I select and buy books for all 12 offices. I search for the best books to inspire the designers I work with. But I’m aware that not everyone who works for an architectural firm is an architect. We have people in accounting, facilities, tech services, and more. I try to have a selection of books for these people, too – people who are interested in architecture, but aren’t experts. I have a Master’s in medieval history and a Master's in Library and Information Science.

Laura's book list on architecture for non-experts

Laura Dushkes Why did Laura love this book?

I love this book for its approach to teaching about architecture. It’s not a textbook primer on the subject that starts with the ancient world and ends in the modern world. Instead, it covers the basic principles of architecture by covering themes, such as light, landscape, place, and matter. Each theme is illuminated by examples of buildings from the Egyptian pyramids to Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright. The text is easy to read and each example has ample photographs. Truly accessible to all.

By Robert McCarter, Juhani Pallasmaa,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Understanding Architecture as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Intended both as an introductory text for students and professionals in the field as well as an accessible read for the general public, Primer on Architecture (working title) addresses the basic principles of architecture and uncovers its ongoing influence in contemporary culture. The volume is organized in a series of chapters based on key architectural themes--space, time, matter, gravity, light, silence, dwelling, ritual, memory, landscape, and place--with an introductory essay for each chapter that includes a wide variety of historical examples from around the world followed by more in depth analyses of key buildings that further exemplify the theme of…


Book cover of The Architecture of Happiness

Sarah Lahey Author Of Kat Girl

From my list on your relationship is failing while renovating.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love writing books that feature buildings and construction as a backdrop to life. I’ve worked as an interior designer for over 30 years, and now I teach design at a university in Sydney. Our homes offer so much more than four walls and a roof. They provide us with comfort and shelter. They offer security and stability. They help us stay sane and grounded in a sometimes confusing and turbulent world. I don’t think the importance of our homes can be underestimated.

Sarah's book list on your relationship is failing while renovating

Sarah Lahey Why did Sarah love this book?

If you’re in the middle of renovating and feel like you’ve lost your way, you might need a new perspective. This book will get you back on track.

Easy for laypeople to understand—the writing is simple and elegant—it’s philosophical and wise. It might even change how you look at the world, or at least the way you look at architecture. Hopefully, you’ll remember why you’re renovating in the first place. 

By Alain De Botton,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Architecture of Happiness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What makes a house beautiful? Is it serious to spend your time thinking about home decoration? Why do people disagree about taste? Can buildings make us happy? In The Architecture of Happiness Alain de Botton tackles a relationship central to our lives. Our buildings - and the objects we fill them with - affect us more profoundly than we might think. To take architecture seriously is to accept that we are, for better and for worse, different people in different places. De Botton suggests that it is architecture's task to render vivid to us who we might ideally be. Turning…


Book cover of Architecture of the Absurd: How "Genius" Disfigured a Practical Art

Laura Dushkes Author Of The Architect Says: Quotes, Quips, and Words of Wisdom

From my list on architecture for non-experts.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was young, my parents gave me a book of quotations. I was hooked. Now I’m the solo librarian for NBBJ, a design firm with 12 offices worldwide and I select and buy books for all 12 offices. I search for the best books to inspire the designers I work with. But I’m aware that not everyone who works for an architectural firm is an architect. We have people in accounting, facilities, tech services, and more. I try to have a selection of books for these people, too – people who are interested in architecture, but aren’t experts. I have a Master’s in medieval history and a Master's in Library and Information Science.

Laura's book list on architecture for non-experts

Laura Dushkes Why did Laura love this book?

Although not an architect or critic, Silber takes on the “Starchitect” who designs, not for the user, but for ego. Offering examples such as Liebeskind’s Royal Ontario Museum and Gehry’s Stata Center at MIT, Silber offers a bold argument that many of our leading lights too enmeshed in Archi-speak and have convinced clients to approve projects that don’t work. You may disagree with the author, but this slim volume will get you to think.

By John Silber,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Architecture of the Absurd as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Have you ever wondered why the Guggenheim is always covered in scaffolding? Why the slashes on the exterior of Libeskind's Jewish Museum, supposed to represent Jewish life in prewar Berlin, reappear, for no reason, on his Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto? Or why Gehry's design for an MIT lab for sensitive research has glass walls? Not to mention why, for $44.2 per square foot, it doesn't keep out the rain? You're not alone.
In Architecture of the Absurd, John Silber dares to peek behind the curtain of "genius" architects and expose their willful disdain for their clients, their budgets, and…


Book cover of Cubed: The Secret History of the Workplace

Laura Dushkes Author Of The Architect Says: Quotes, Quips, and Words of Wisdom

From my list on architecture for non-experts.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was young, my parents gave me a book of quotations. I was hooked. Now I’m the solo librarian for NBBJ, a design firm with 12 offices worldwide and I select and buy books for all 12 offices. I search for the best books to inspire the designers I work with. But I’m aware that not everyone who works for an architectural firm is an architect. We have people in accounting, facilities, tech services, and more. I try to have a selection of books for these people, too – people who are interested in architecture, but aren’t experts. I have a Master’s in medieval history and a Master's in Library and Information Science.

Laura's book list on architecture for non-experts

Laura Dushkes Why did Laura love this book?

Those of us who toil in an office might not be aware of the history of this workplace. But it has a fascinating background, and Saval beautifully shows the reader how our current office evolved from the 19th century through Frederick Taylor, who sought to transform workers into automatons and on to the dreaded cubicle. Eminently readable, you’ll never look at your office desk in the same way.

By Nikil Saval,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cubed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

You mean this place we go to five days a week has a history? Cubed reveals the unexplored yet surprising story of the places where most of the world's work—our work—gets done. From "Bartleby the Scrivener" to The Office, from the steno pool to the open-plan cubicle farm, Cubed is a fascinating, often funny, and sometimes disturbing anatomy of the white-collar world and how it came to be the way it is—and what it might become.

In the mid-nineteenth century clerks worked in small, dank spaces called “counting-houses.” These were all-male enclaves, where work was just paperwork. Most Americans considered…


Book cover of Death in a Prairie House: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Murders

Charles Oldham Author Of Ship of Blood: Mutiny and Slaughter Aboard the Harry A. Berwind, and the Quest for Justice

From my list on fascinating but not so well known true crimes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m both a history buff and a criminal defense attorney. I grew up in a small North Carolina town, as the son of two educators who encouraged me to read anything I could get my hands on. My favorite stories were adventures and mysteries, especially courtroom dramas. Clarence Darrow was my historical hero, so I guess it wasn’t surprising that I would attend law school and try my hand at legal practice. I practiced criminal law for about 15 years, long enough to get a feel for how investigations and trials really work. That experience had a major impact on my own writing, and how to pick out a really fascinating true story.

Charles' book list on fascinating but not so well known true crimes

Charles Oldham Why did Charles love this book?

Frank Lloyd Wright is undoubtedly America’s most famous architect. Everyone knows his name, and those who study the field know how his distinctive styles changed the face of architecture in the early 1900s. But few realize the impact that a brutal mass murder had upon Wright’s life and work. It happened at his Taliesin estate in rural Wisconsin in 1914. One of Wright’s house servants, Julian Carlton, went on a rampage with an axe, hacking to death Wright’s lover Mamah Borthwick Cheney and her two children. Four others also were killed when Carlton set the house on fire. Of course the tragedy was personally devastating for Wright, and it also changed the creative course of his life. After Taliesin was destroyed, he moved away from the Prairie House style of organic architecture, for which he had originally become famous.

By William R. Drennan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Death in a Prairie House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The most pivotal and yet least understood event of Frank Lloyd Wright's celebrated life involves the brutal murders in 1914 of seven adults and children dear to the architect and the destruction by fire of Taliesin, his landmark residence, near Spring Green, Wisconsin. Supplying both a gripping mystery story and a portrait of the artist in his prime, William Drennan wades through the myths surrounding Wright and the massacre, casting fresh light on the formulation of Wright's architectural ideology and the cataclysmic effects that the Taliesin murders exerted on the fabled architect and on his subsequent designs.


Book cover of No Place Like Utopia: Modern Architecture and the Company We Kept

Stephanie Travis Author Of Sketching for Architecture + Interior Design: A Practical Guide on Sketching for Architecture and Interior Design Students

From my list on introducing architecture and interior design to everyone.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a design-obsessed George Washington University (Washington, DC) professor, author, architect, interior designer, sketcher, modernist, city lover, traveler, and University of Michigan alumni who writes about topics on architecture and interior design for people of all ages and backgrounds. Everyone lives in the built environment, but not everyone understands it. For example, sketching is one of the best ways to understand a piece of furniture, interior, or building. You will never see the object the same way after you draw it! All of the books on this list are approachable, interesting, fun, and most importantly inspiring. Enjoy!

Stephanie's book list on introducing architecture and interior design to everyone

Stephanie Travis Why did Stephanie love this book?

Hands down, the best book on modern architecture from someone who lived it. Peter Blake was an architect and renowned critic who ran in serious architectural circles during the modern movement. As editor-in-chief of Architectural Forum, he was an expert on the topic and knew everyone involved. His engaging and approachable writing style makes this a must-read for every budding modernist. I re-read this book every year…it’s that good.

By Peter Blake,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked No Place Like Utopia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Brings to life the masters of twentieth-century architecture and art, sharing anecdotes and memories of Frank Lloyd Wright, Buckminster Fuller, Le Corbusier, Jackson Pollock, and others


Book cover of A Race to Splendor

Linda Ulleseit Author Of Under the Almond Trees

From my list on women’s fiction on San Francisco 1906 earthquake.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve lived in California all my life and am a fourth-generation Northern Californian. The characters in my book, which is based on my family, lived through the 1906 earthquake, although it’s not central to that story. That earthquake and fire was one of the most memorable events in my beautiful home state’s history. Many books have been written about it, so I’ve decided to list my favorite novels you might not have heard of. They all include excellent descriptions of the earthquake and its aftermath, and they create strong, empathetic female characters. Enjoy!

Linda's book list on women’s fiction on San Francisco 1906 earthquake

Linda Ulleseit Why did Linda love this book?

After the earthquake, people had to rebuild. This one features a female architect who trained under Julia Morgan, rebuilding a luxury hotel that once belonged to her family. The tension rises she competes with a male architect to have the first finished hotel. This book is filled with great descriptions of the setting and events surrounding the quake. It is filled with people reimagining themselves and their city after tragedy and loss.

By Ciji Ware,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Race to Splendor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Vividly evocative of the time and place...[Ware] deftly blends history and romance in a page-turning story."―Library Journal

Early in 1906, the ground in San Francisco shook buildings and lives from their comfortable foundations.

Amidst rubble, corruption, and deceit, two women―young architects in a city and field ruled by men―find themselves racing the clock and each other during the rebuilding of competing hotels in the City by the Bay.

Based on meticulous research, A Race to Splendor tells the story of the audacious people of one of the world's great cities rebuilding and reinventing themselves after immense human tragedy. Filled with…


Book cover of Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon

Pierce Freelon Author Of Daddy & Me, Side by Side

From my list on children's reads by Black women from North Carolina.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born and raised in Durham, North Carolina where I was loved, nurtured, and mentored by several brilliant, creative, and powerful Black women. One of those women was Dr. Maya Angelou, who was close with my Grandmother, Queen Mother Frances Pierce, and was my mom's God-Mother. She and the other authors on this list are all women who I respect professionally and love dearly. I am a picture book author, a Grammy-nominated children's musician, and a father of two. I have read these stories to my children and am so proud to live in the great state of North Carolina with so many talented, genuine, and inspirational Black women.

Pierce's book list on children's reads by Black women from North Carolina

Pierce Freelon Why did Pierce love this book?

Kelly Starling Lyons is a brilliant author of several books for children and young adults.

A personal favorite is her book about my father, Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon. This tells my Dad's story, from struggling to read letters and numbers as a child, to becoming a world renowned architect of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC.

By Kelly Starling Lyons, Laura Freeman (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Dream Builder as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

You've seen the building. Now meet the man whose life went into it.

Philip Freelon's grandfather was an acclaimed painter of the Harlem Renaissance. His father was a successful businessman who attended the 1963 March on Washington. When Phil decided to attend architecture school, he created his own focus on African American and Islamic designers. He later chose not to build casinos or prisons, instead concentrating on schools, libraries, and museums--buildings that connect people with heritage and fill hearts with joy. And in 2009, Phil's team won a commission that let him use his personal history in service to the…


Book cover of Asterios Polyp

Moro Rogers Author Of City in the Desert

From my list on ideological adventure.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up in a household with a fantasy author dad and a philosophy professor mom, I learned to appreciate stories that expressed big ideas. I realized the books and movies I liked weren’t just vehicles for ideology, but that ideas are the hooks that draw me into a story. I’ve also always loved animals and monsters. Like Miyazaki and C.S. Lewis, I was attempting to create a narrative that brought my beliefs and interests together. Now I live in Southern California with my husband, son, and cat, surrounded by rattlesnakes, tarantulas, hawks, and coyotes. It’s an imperfect, beautiful world! 

Moro's book list on ideological adventure

Moro Rogers Why did Moro love this book?

If the other books on my list are about disillusionment, Asterios Polyp provides a good counterpoint as its message runs in the opposite direction. Sometimes people are better than you think. Asterios is an obnoxious architect whose worldview starts with the assumption that everyone else is wrong. After a series of crises (thrown out by wife, apartment fire) he has to flee the city and rent a room in the home of a rightwing redneck married to a hippie, just the sort of people he would never associate with by choice. He learns humility and goes about fixing his life. It’s all pretty predictable but the mix of elegantly cartoonish art and funny storytelling kept me engaged (even when I wanted to smack the hero.)

By David Mazzucchelli,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Asterios Polyp as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The triumphant return of one of comics’ greatest talents, with an engrossing story of one man’s search for love, meaning, sanity, and perfect architectural proportions. An epic story long awaited, and well worth the wait.

Meet Asterios Polyp: middle-aged, meagerly successful architect and teacher, aesthete and womanizer, whose life is wholly upended when his New York City apartment goes up in flames. In a tenacious daze, he leaves the city and relocates to a small town in the American heartland. But what is this “escape” really about?

As the story unfolds, moving between the present and the past, we begin…


Book cover of The Architect's Apprentice

Coirle Mooney Author Of My Lady's Shadow: Power and intrigue in Medieval France

From my list on escape the everyday into sensuous landscapes.

Why am I passionate about this?

In the Spring of 2006, I went to the south of France searching for troubadours. It was my MA year and my thesis was looking at the influence of the courtly love tradition on Chaucer’s writing. Troubadours (and the female, trobairitz) were nowhere to be found. The closest I came was a café named Le Troubadour. However, evidence of their lyrics was there in the beauty and lushness of Languedoc in spring. I'm always drawn to the poetry, landscapes, and love stories of the past and have experienced how these connections enrich my life. I've completed a PhD in seventeenth-century literature and become an historical fiction novelist and a devotee of history and historical fiction. 

Coirle's book list on escape the everyday into sensuous landscapes

Coirle Mooney Why did Coirle love this book?

A mammoth of an historical novel set in the time of the Ottoman Empire.

A unique love story between the elephant keeper (and royal architect) Jahan, his special white elephant, Chota, and the interesting princess Mihrimah. As funny as it is heartbreaking, with characters so compelling they felt like cherished friends mourned and missed at parting, but whom I’ll always remember with deep fondness.   

By Elif Shafak,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Architect's Apprentice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A dazzling and intricate tale from Elif Shafak, Booker-shortlisted author of 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World - chosen for the Duchess of Cornwall's online book club The Reading Room

'There were six of us: the master, the apprentices and the white elephant. We built everything together...'

Sixteenth century Istanbul: a stowaway arrives in the city bearing an extraordinary gift for the Sultan. The boy is utterly alone in a foreign land, with no worldly possessions to his name except Chota, a rare white elephant destined for the palace menagerie.

So begins an epic adventure that will see…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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