Books for Mature Teens and Adults

Theme: Building Things

Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture - (ISBN: 9780802713667)

by Ross King

The originality of Brunelleschi’s dome, which tops the church of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy, began when he entered a design contest as a young man. The architect’s achievement is remarkable not only for the unique design of the dome -- whose upward curves rely on no supporting structures-- but also for the competitiveness he mustered to defeat the famous architect Ghiberti’s design entry for the church. Amid great personal sacrifice and political intrigue, Brunelleschi made building the dome his life work.

Earth Architecture: From Ancient to Modern - (ISBN: 978-0813032078)

by William Morgan

Morgan examines a fascinating type of architecture: earth houses, mounds, sand structures and other unusual uses of natural materials, from ancient times to the present day. While appealing to practical builders, nature lovers, and those fascinated with the unusual, the examples of “earth” architecture here also make a statement about sustainability.

Eiffel’s Tower - (ISBN: 978-0143117292)

by Jill Jonnes

This book offers the rich cultural background behind the building of the Eiffel Tower, including details about celebrities present at its opening. Although originally intended to be a part of the 1889 World’s Fair exhibits, it came dangerously close to remaining uncomplete. In addition to artists Paul Gauguin and Vincent Van Gogh, other visiting dignitaries included colorful figures such as Annie Oakley, Buffalo Bill, James McNeill Whistler, and Thomas Edison. As you come to appreciate the creative engineering that made the building of the tower possible, immerse yourself in the cultural history of the times. How many of these famous people do you know about? Who would be invited to such an event today?

The Inscrutable Mrs. Winchester and Her Mysterious Mansion - (ISBN: 978-1424113743)

by Lisa Selby

No list of buildings and architecture would be complete without including the details of the 150-room mansion Mrs. Winchester built in San Jose, California. Certainly an oddity, the royal house featured staircases that led to nothing, a multitude of bathrooms, a door that opened onto a garden five yards below, and the repeating theme of the number 13. Mrs. Winchester was a psychic as well as a “builder,” and it is believed she aimed to thwart the evil spirits that had killed her daughter and husband by her continuous building. Put this house on your list of places to visit when you get to California. What buildings near you are “odd”?

The Secret of the Great Pyramid: How One Man's Obsession Led to the Solution of Ancient Egypt's Greatest Mystery - (ISBN: 978-0061655531)

by Bob Brier Jean-Pierre Houdin

This book begins to explain the mystery of how workers without modern construction equipment built one of the most powerful structures in the world, the greatest pyramid in Egypt. The writer presents the views of a French architect who postulates that the pyramid was built with the help of a great ramp found on its inside which allowed builders to construct the pyramid from the center out! The book also contrasts the building of the Great Pyramid with some lesser pyramids.

Basilica: The Splendor and the Scandal: Building St. Peter's - (ISBN: 9780452288607)

by R.A. Scotti

Biltmore Estate: The Most Distinguished Private Place - (ISBN: 978-0847818112)

by John Bryan

Higher: A Historic Race to the Sky and the Making of a City - (ISBN: 978-0767912686)

by Neal Bascomb

The Seventy Wonders of the Modern World: 1500 Years of Extraordinary Feats of Engineering and Construction - (ISBN: 9780500510476)

by Thames & Hudson, publishers

Activities for this Theme

Check your knowledge of the Eiffel Tower


Enjoy David McCulloughs video about saving the Brooklyn Bridge
Save the Bridge Video


Explore the Winchester Mystery House