Master of the Midcentury: The Architecture of William F. Cody

Monacelli. Sept. 2021. 312p. ISBN 9781580935302. $60. ARCH
Architect William Cody (1916–78) falls within the constellation of Southern California modernists (among them Richard Neutra, Gregory Ain, Craig Ellwood, Albert Frey, and Pierre Koenig) whose delicate, light, refined buildings were mythologized in photos by Julius Shulman. Postwar Palm Springs, nestled beside mountains in a desert climate, offered a great chance for the University of Southern California–trained Cody to thrive and produce a body of work fueled by residential, commercial, and industrial commissions. Cody’s work is examined in this chronological monograph (based on a 2016 retrospective exhibition at L.A.’s A+D Museum), with an admirably compact foreword by architectural historian Wim de Wit that deftly summarizes the work’s significance. Next, architectural historian Don Choi situates Cody’s designs in the context of postwar modernism, revealing nuances of the architect’s minimalist approach to detail and decoration. Along with newer color images, historical black-and-white photographs suitably idealize the work. The final chapter, a sort of epilogue on Cody’s artistic development, incorporates images of his student and pre-licensure work, giving readers a notable sense of the power of drawing as a means to architecture.
VERDICT There are too few floor plans, which reduces the value of this volume; suitable for comprehensive architecture collections.
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