A was the architectural letterform of leisure building in postwar America. Eager to stake out mountain and lakeside retreats, an entire generation of high-end homebuilders and weekend handymen found the A-frame an easy and affordable home to construct, its steeply sloping triangular roof distinctive and easy to maintain, with almost no exterior walls to paint. Fueled by A-frame plans and kits, the style became something of a national craze, with tens of thousands of houses built.
A-frame chronicles America’s love affair with the A-frame. In his fascinating look at this architectural phenomenon, Chad Randl tells the story of the triangle house, from prehistoric Japan to its lifestyle-changing prime in the 1960s as a symbol of play, leisure, and outdoor living to its recent revival among designers and homeowners.
Indeed, the A-frame was an icon for recreation, an acceptable form of modernism, although its origins go back thousands of years, and a convenient tool for marketing a wide range of products, including gas- powered toilets, motorcycles, and canned vegetables. Fisher-Price® even made one for children. So popular on the domestic front, the A-frame was eventually adapted to other building types, from roadside restaurants to churches. Part architectural history and part cultural exploration, A-frame documents every aspect of A-frame living with cartoons, ads, high-style and do-it-yourself examples, family snapshots, and an appendix with a complete set of blueprints in case you want to build your own.
Randl is Art DeMuro assistant professor in the Historic Preservation Program, College of Design, at the University of Oregon in Portland, Oregon. Previously, he taught at Cornell University and worked as an architectural historian for the National Park Service. He is the author of Revolving Architecture: A History of Buildings that Rotate, Swivel, and Pivot.