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Marion Mahony Reconsidered

Marion Mahony Griffin (1871–1961) was an American architect and artist, one of the first licensed female architects in the world, designer for Frank Lloyd Wright’s Chicago studio, and an original member of the Prairie School of architecture. Largely heralded for her exquisite presentation drawings for both Wright and her husband, Walter Burley Griffin, Mahony was an adventurous designer in her own right, whose independent and highly original work attracted attention at a moment when architectural drawing and graphic illustration were becoming integral to the design process.

This book examines new research into Mahony’s life and paints a vivid portrait of a woman’s place among the lives and productions of some of our most noted American architects. The essays included take us on an ambitious journey from Mahony’s origins in the Chicago suburbs, through her years as Wright’s right-hand woman and her bohemian life with her husband in Australia—whose new capital city, Canberra, she helped to plan—up until her golden years in the middle of the twentieth century. Filled with richly detailed analyses of Mahony’s works and including and populated by an international cast of characters, Marion Mahony Reconsidered greatly expands our knowledge of this talented, complex, and enigmatic modern architect.

192 pages | 4 color plates, 65 halftones | 8 1/2 x 11 | © 2011

Chicago Architecture and Urbanism

Architecture: American Architecture, Architecture--Biography, History of Architecture


Marion Mahony Reconsidered tells the fullest story of Marion both as a person and as an architect available. The introduction and essays look at Marion’s whole career but also have an overriding purpose—to redress Marion’s erasure from history by raising new questions, by focusing on achievements that cannot be denied, and by beginning to fill in some of the blanks, gaps, and absences in her life story. This is a scholarly achievement of great significance to the history of architecture.”

Jane Clarke, architectural historian

“An architect and extraordinary graphic artist, Marion Mahony was nothing less than a force of nature. Until now, Mahony was often marginalized as merely a ‘helpmate’ to or ‘talented renderer’ for first Frank Lloyd Wright and then her husband, Walter Burley Griffin. At the other extreme, some have amplified her achievements by diminishing those of her husband. Meticulously researched and rich in critical analysis, Marion Mahony Reconsidered is a remarkably even-handed, well-balanced study. Marion Mahony at last has the monograph her remarkable career deserves. It is, moreover, a dangerous book for those who believe Wright single-handedly invented everything emanating from his Oak Park studio. Without reservation, this book belongs in the library of those interested in Mahony, Griffin, and Wright as well as the genesis of modern architecture in America.”

Christopher Vernon, University of Western Australia

“Absorbing. . . . Does much to place Mahony in the correct relationship to the men in her life and the world in which they collectively functioned.”

Australian Book Review

Marion Mahony Reconsidered opens the door for further study and presents an insightful portrait of a pioneering designer whose contribution to American architecture deserves recognition and further study.”

Art Libraries Society of North America

Marion Mahony Reconsidered presents new perspectives on a fascinating but elusive figure who emerged in one of the golden periods of Chicago architecture.”

Journal of Illinois History

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations


David Van Zanten

Alice T. Friedman
Girl Talk: Feminism and Domestic Architecture at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Oak Park Studio

Paul Kruty
Graphic Depictions:  The Evolution of Marion Mahony’s Architectural Renderings

James Weirick
Motifs and Motives in the Lifework of Marion Mahony

Anna Rubbo
Marion Mahony Griffin’s Return to the United States: War, Women and “Magic”


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