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Friedman, Alice T. Women and the Making of the Modern House: A Social and Architectural History. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1998.
In this text, Wellesley Art and Women’s Studies professor Alice Friedman analyzes eight houses designed by prominent architects for women in the 20th century and explores the relationship between the homes’ architects and the women who commissioned the work. Friedman argues that the gendered social roles of the culture in which these women’s lived has led them to demand homes that shift traditional boundaries between work and leisure, redefine and combine public and private spaces, and allow for a greater variety of household compositions. Friedman documents the houses she studies—including those by Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Richard Neutra, and Robert Venturi—with over 100 different illustrations that include full color photographs of building interiors and exteriors, blue prints, and floor plans. The extensive illustrations and Friedman’s use of a few specific examples of houses designed for male clients make the book accessible to non-architects who may not be familiar with the homes discussed or more traditional high art design practices. Women and the Making of the Modern House ends with an excerpt from Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own and calls for architecture, especially domestic spaces, to be a cultural force for change. The limited number of houses examined makes accepting and using Friedman’s theories as a tool for analyzing other domestic spaces problematic; however, these closing moves to reframe the argument as political instead of academic creates a credible space for Friedman’s theories about the reason’s female-designed domestic spaces differ from male-designed spaces. [K. Park]