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Pierre Lescot, Louvre 1546-51. Illustration by May Spangler.

WELCOME TO MAY SPANGLER’S WORLD
OF ARCHITECTURE AND LITERATURE

May spangler is an architect from the Beaux-Arts School in Paris, and a Ph.D. in French from Emory University in Atlanta, who combines her interest in architecture and literature in her writing and illustrations. Her books in French and English include her Ph.D. dissertation, Monstrer Diderot, a memoir about her childhood in Paris, Papa a dit, Maman aussi, a student textbook for a cultural studies course, Paris in Architecture, Literature, and Art, and a teacher manual for Paris in Architecture, Literature, and Art that provides detailed commentaries of all documents presented in the student textbook. May is now working on a memoir, The Architect’s Eye, about coming to study at Georgia Tech and meeting Dickie in 1978.

New Book in Progress

 THE ARCHITECT’S EYE

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The Architect’s Eye, a memoir, tells the unlikely love story between Parisian May and native Georgian Dickie, as she comes to study architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1978. She had envisioned her trip to the United States as an opportunity to redefine herself. Because it is all about perspective: to see, to be seen, and to see yourself in the eyes of others. In the 1970s, few women studied at the Beaux-Arts School, and the male students could not tolerate when May, a girl, would get the highest grade in design. They tried to discourage her, and while she survived the hazing, it left her cautious of men. In contrast, the American students welcome her in the studio, but when she falls in love with Dickie, she still cannot put her trust in him. 

Although Dickie and May have grown up worlds apart, they engage life with the same eagerness. They spend nights in the studio and around town smoking cigarettes, delighting in their cultural differences, challenging each other’s prejudices, and arguing their stance on the postmodern debate. Unsure about his feeling for her, May keeps her distance and leaves the United States thinking that her infatuation will not survive an ocean.  But love stays just as strong, threatening to make the rest of her life miserable. Can she overcome her distrust in men and take a chance at love with Dickie?

Illustration Samples

“Less is more.” ― Mies van der Rohe, 1947            “Less is a bore.” ― Robert Venturi, 1966

The Architect’s Eye features the 1970s postmodern debate as the bland functionalism of modern architecture is under the siege of a postmodernism that promotes complexity, plurality, and language games. The debate is presented through students’ discussions and vignettes giving background information with which the reader may not be familiar. The vignettes include twenty-eight ink drawings by the author, such as in the samples below.

“LESS IS MORE”: Minimalism and Functionalism of Modern Architecture

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Fig. 9. Mies van der Rohe, Crown Hall, Illinois Institute of Technology, 1956.


“LESS IS A BORE”: Complexity and Historicism of Postmodern Architecture

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Fig. 12. Charles Moore, Piazza d’Italia, New Orleans, 1978.