Must-Read Books for International Women's Day

Curated by Women in Design for Women in Design

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Cover3 · Must-Read Books for International Women's Day
Alyanna de Vera
08 Mar 2024 All, Research, News

In celebration of International Women's Day, the women designers at Marvel recommended books for other women designers, across all levels. These books have inspired the talented female architects, landscape architects, interior designers, urban designers and planners at Marvel. Spanning a diverse spectrum of genres, from architecture books to biographies about other influential women, these books will continue to inspire the creative journeys of other women across all realms of design. 


1. Sexuality and Space, Edited by Beatriz Colomina 

“It’s an eclectic series of essays about the role of gender and the genderization of space in not only architecture but also the visual arts.” – Edna Echandi-Guzmán, AIA, Partner 



2. Zaha Hadid: Inspiration and Process in Architecture

“For architecture inspiration, a small coffee table book that I love is from Moleskine’s Inspiration and Process in Architecture: Zaha Hadid.  This inspires a lot of my art, design process, and creative thinking. Another one I started to read is Your Brain on Art: How the Arts Transform Us Book by Ivy Ross and Susan Magsamen” – Alejandra del Pilar, Architectural Designer



3. The Book of the City of Ladies by Christine de Pizan

“Because she was a woman (Italian, despite the adopted French name and life)  writing and publishing books in the middle ages (late 1300)!

This book in particular she wrote as a retort to the general culture of the time which dismissed women as inferior to men in body and mind.

So this is and early proto-feminist book, published (the word had a different meaning altogether before the printing press was invented) by a woman who had an all-female workshop of scribes and illuminators, and, as a plus, she uses the metaphors of building a city as a construct for the book.” – Elisa Testa, RA, Associate



4. Annie Albers: On Design

“These are all just very good essays on design, that happen to be written by a woman (super tough lady actually) and an incredible artist (or craft-person as she would have preferred).” – Elisa Testa, RA, Associate



5. Latinas in Architecture: Stories of raising the 1% one Latina at a time by Alicia Ponce

“It's a great book that is an anthology of personal stories in the journey of becoming an architect. A potential motivational boost for those in the middle of their own licensure process.” – Mel Loyola, Mel Loyola, RA, NOMA, Architectural Designer



6. Life in Motion by Misty Copeland

“Misty Copeland’s biography is a truly inspirational journey to her success. While not specific to the field of architecture, she is an artist at the top of her game achieving her dreams at ABT and a role model to many, including myself!” – Danielle Cerone, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Director



7. Listen to What They Say: Planning and Community Development in Puerto Rico by Lucilla Fuller Marvel

“Lucilla's book is a must for anyone that wants to truly understand community engagement as the base for designing with communities in mind.” – Annya Ramírez-Jiménez, AIA, Partner



8. The Power of Place by Dolores Hayden

“I would recommend a Dolores Hayden book, and you could start with one of her earlier books like “Seven American Utopias:The Architecture of Communitarian Socialism” or finish with one of her latest books “The Power of Place: Urban Landscapes as Public History”. So– Utopia and Vision, very important for the work that I do, and the Power of Place, is important to what we all do.”  – Lucilla Fuller Marvel, Urban Planner, Author



9. The Grand Domestic Revolution: A History of Feminist Designs for American Homes, Neighborhoods, and Cities by Dolores Hayden

“This book is a treat for architects and designers because this revolutionary thought is accompanied by actual floor plans and renders for the buildings and communities that embodied these values.  Many of the ideas, and the solutions presented in this book are relevant for the challenges society is still facing today.”  – Sadie Winslow, Associate



10. The Women Who Changed Architecture by Beverly Willis; Amale Andraos; Jan Cigliano Hartman

“It’s recent and low hanging fruit, but I find it inspirational and empowering.  A milestone collection of women's stories and accomplishments.” – Emily Richards, AIA, Architect



11. La Estructura Histórica del Entorno by Marina Waisman

“In her book, Marina Waisman develops a methodology for historical analysis of the built environment, based on establishing relationships between inclusive cultural units, not limited to traditional architectural concepts, but also including the folkloric and the commercial. It is said to be a Latin-American reinterpretation of the book Teorie e Storie dell’architectura of Manfredo Tafuri. I read this in college, and I was hooked, I found it to be very refreshing and inspiring.” – Lillianys Medina, Architectural Designer



12. How to say it by Phyllis Mindell

“Every woman who struggles to be heard, whose words are mansplained and undervalued by others, should read "How to Say It: For Women" by Phyllis Mindell. A powerful guide inspired by Charlotte's Web and enhanced by the experiences of other women in the workplace. Mindell offers guidance on how to grow into a valued leader and a woman of admirable strength and grace. And just as in sports, where women are still fighting to break the ideals of weakness and embrace inclusivity, our strength can be manifested in the way we project ourselves through powerful and meaningful words.” –  Mabel Plasencia, Aquino, LEED AP BD+C, Architectural Designer



13. The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs

“Jane Jacobs is one of the most inspirational women in the field of architecture, planning and urban design. Her foundational book, "The Death and Life of Great American Cities” challenged the male-dominated planning ideas of her time, advocating for more inclusive and vibrant communities. Her work continues to inspire architects, planners, and urban designers to this day, to strive to create spaces that truly serve the needs of our communities, that are equal, active and remain diverse.” – Cynthia M. Dorta Quiñones, Assoc. AIA, AIT, Associate



14. Alegoría del Patrimonio by Françoise Choay

“This book introduced me to historic preservation in a different perspective, an eye-opening read towards what is the relationship between appreciation and memory, and how it impacted the development of historic preservation and its global awareness through the study of leisure.” – Karen J. Cuadro Esteves, Architectural Designer

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