We’re going on a little foray into architecture this week!
Today I’ve got 5 exceptional books about 3 world-famous architects, plus 2 related reviews from the archives.
Later this week I’ll post some excellent titles surveying architecture itself, exploring structures around the world and across time.
The World is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid, written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter
published in 2017 by Beach Lane Books
Stadiums inspired by seashells.
Bridges undulating like the waves they cross.
Buildings whose shapes appear as windblown as the desert sands around them.
Zaha Hadid’s architectural innovations grew from her love of the landforms and ancient shapes around her during her childhood among the marshes, dunes, rivers and ruins of Iraq.
Watch the magical transformation as Hadid’s ideas become designs and structures. Jeanette Winter’s economy and lyricism in her text, alongside brilliant, simplified illustrations which hook idea-and-design together, make this book accessible to children as young as 3. What new ways will you begin to see after reading this book?
The Shape of the World: A Portrait of Frank Lloyd Wright, written by K.L. Going, illustrated by Lauren Stringer
published in 2017 by Beach Lane Books
Frank Lloyd Wright also traces his architectural inspiration to his childhood.
As was true for Hadid, the natural world where Wright grew up — the prairies and gently rolling hills of Wisconsin — had a tremendous influence on his ideas about design. His architectural bent was also owing to his mother, who gave him geometrical blocks to play and create with, and who hung pictures of cathedrals in his nursery.
K.L. Going traces these kernels — the shapes of Nature and the heft of his wooden blocks — to their fruition in Wright’s famous structures. Lauren Stringer’s stunning artwork is a gorgeous tribute to shape. Don’t miss the author and illustrator notes which ratchet up our understanding of all they’ve packed into this fantastic book. Ages 4 and up.
Fallingwater: The Building of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Masterpiece, written by Marc Harshman and Anna Egan Smucker, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
published in 2017 by Roaring Brook Press
Follow up the previous book with this one spotlighting one of Wright’s most famous conceptions, Fallingwater.
Beginning with a visit to the forest-scape where a wealthy Pittsburgh merchant wanted to build a house, we trace Wright’s ideas of how best to dovetail structure with land. How might one nest a large building into the very water, rocks, and earth such that they seem woven together? How could he bring the music of the waterfall into every nook of this house?
Wright’s ingenuity and the laborers’ incredible prowess turned this dream into a reality that continues to dazzle. Again, I very much appreciated the authors’ and artist’s notes which illuminated the subject further. Ages 6 and up.
Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines, written by Jeanne Walker Harvey, illustrated by Dow Phumiruk
published in 2017, Christy Ottaviano Books, Henry Holt & Company
With this introduction of Maya Lin, we are three for three in architects influenced by the landscapes in which they grew up. That is quite interesting, isn’t it?
Maya’s childhood was spent playing in the woodlands near her home in Ohio, absorbing the quietude and grace of its hillsides and wildlife. She grew up in the midst of an artistic household with a ceramicist father and poet mother.
As a college senior, Lin submitted an entry in a design competition for the new Vietnam Veterans Memorial and, shockingly, won! Her ideation as well as her supervision of the memorial’s construction is laid out here in gentle, lucid prose, echoed in the peacefulness of lines and earth tones of the illustrations. The acrimony which preceded the building of the memorial is touched on briefly, and a glimpse of Lin’s other brilliant work is given. Lovely, for ages 5 and up.
Maya Lin: Thinking with her Hands, written by Susan Goldman Rubin
published in 2017 by Chronicle Books
This lengthier biography of Maya Lin is one of the most intriguing children’s nonfiction titles I’ve read in awhile.
Biographer Rubin has ingenuously organized the book by art medium, with chapters devoted to clay, granite, water, earth, glass, celadon, dunes & driftwood, wood, and memories. Just look at that list and you get a glimpse of the flexibility, thoughtfulness, innovation, and brilliance of this artist-architect. How can each of these elements be incorporated into a structure?
Following a sketch of Lin’s formative years, Rubin looks at nine key projects undertaken by Lin, presenting us with the original request, Lin’s process of ideation, the unique challenges she confronts for each assignment, and the stunning results of her designs. I was blown away by the conceptual riches encompassed by each of her designs and the elegance of each finished project.
I’ve read a number of Rubin’s books. She is an excellent biographer. This is definitely one of my favorites. Pick it up for kids ages 12 and up who have an interest in design, or grab it as an adult. It’s well worth it.
There are two more architects lurking in the Orange Marmalade Archives. Both of these are fantastic picture books:
Pippo the Fool (Filippo Brunelleschi)