Thursday, March 25 2021
Edith Wharton, one of America’s most distinguished writers, explained: "The impression produced by a landscape, a street or a house should always to the novelist, be an event in the history of a soul." People, as she explains, are products of their environment and the buildings they inhabit—whether small and humble or luxurious mansions with grand interiors—play an important part in an individual’s life. For Wharton, buildings are not just backdrop, but actors. This presentation will look at her novels House of Mirth and Summer, as well as her other writings, including The Decoration of Houses and Italian Villas and Their Gardens.
Participants are encouraged—not required—to read, in part or in whole, any of these works to grasp the writer’s style prior to the event.
Richard Guy Wilson — Commonwealth Professor Emeritus in Architectural History, School of Architecture, University of Virginia
Richard Guy Wilson is Commonwealth Professor Emeritus in Architectural History at the University of Virginia. He is a frequent lecturer, television commentator, and author of many articles and books on different aspects of American and modern architecture and design, including The American Renaissance (1979), McKim, Mead & White, Architects (1982), The AIA Gold Medal (1983), Machine Age in America (1986), Thomas Jefferson’s Academical Village (1993, 2009) The Colonial Revival House (2004), Harbor Hill: Portrait of a House (2008) and Edith Wharton At Home (2012).
This program is part of Architecture Everywhere, a monthly series exploring how architecture comes to life in unexpected ways through disciplines like illustration, photography, theater, and writing. We find buildings and spaces in surprising places: in books, on canvas, in film, and on paper—even in games! Join us each month as guest speakers present a visual talk, followed by creative exchange with the audience. Architecture Everywhere is organized by the Washington Architectural Foundation and Washington Chapter, AIA.
- Explore the role of architecture in storytelling.
- Discuss the author’s architectural perspective, creative analysis, and writing approach.
- Describe how a landscape, street, or house can set the tone or mood for the reader.
- Discover through literature how buildings play an important part of people’s lives.