Memoir / Social History / Architecture
Lyrical, insightful, and pleasantly avant-garde, this is the story of an intensely creative and ambitious young woman who discovered her love for place, for design, for building—that is, for architecture—even before she knew the word. It is an easy-to-read account chronicling the life and times of one in the early ‘60s. As a single mother, Wendy Bertrand accepted job security over the potential glamour, prestige, or celebrity of private practice, where architectural stars shine. She tells us how she pursued a career while continuing to value her perspective and insight as a woman, a mother, and someone who cares passionately about social equity. Her love of place infuses every aspect of her personal and professional life. She tells us of her adventures in travel, education, marriage, childbirth, motherhood, and work. This everyday architect worked in the traditionally male-valued US Navy from 1973 to 1991, and within her civilian job she found ways to add humanistic features to that institutional military engineering culture. She took pride in public service while creating opportunities to improve workplace norms. In effect, the management and design decisions she embraced continue to challenge cultural convention in the workplace today. She reflects on how what she knows now could influence the way our culture goes about the making of place. This is also a story about a woman coming into her own as she matures, enjoys the fiber arts, and embraces the elements of her life that have enduring value.
This is the personal and professional memoir of an architect who tells how her identity and life as woman are inseparable from her adventures in the profession of architecture. She reflects in the epilogue about how what she knows now could influence the way our culture goes about the making of place.
Download the epilogue If I Knew Then What I Know Now here
NOW SEPTEMBER 2015 Ebooks available on Amazon, Barns and Noble and with ibooks
– Full color, hardcover
– 388 pages with 100 snapshots
– ISBN 978-0-9837834-6-6
Print available on this site ($35 + tax)
Also available in
William Stout Architectural Books at 804 Montgomery, San Francisco
Folio Books at 3957 24th Street, San Francisco
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The Green Arcade, 1680 Market, San Francisco
Mrs. Dalloway’s Bookstore, 2904 College Avenue, Berkeley
Aalto Books, Newmark Auckland, New Zealand
National Building Museum Shop, Washington D.C.
*Andrews University, Berrien Springs, MI
*Architecture Association School of Architecture, London, England
*Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona
*Auckland Libraries, 1015 Auckland, New Zealand
*Auckland University Libraries, Auckland 1142, New Zealand
*Bandon Public Library, Oregon
*Berkeley City Library, Berkeley, CA
*Bibilothèque Marguerite Durand, Paris, France
*Berlin, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Haus Potsdamer Straße 10785 Germany
*Brookings Public Library, Brookings, Oregon
*California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, CA
*Cité de l’architecture et du Patrimoine, Paris, France
*City College/CUNY, New York, NY
*Clemson University Libraries, Robert Muldrow Cooper Library, Clemson, SC
*Coast Community Library, Pt. Arena, CA
*College of Architecture and Design, Knoxville, Tennessee
*College of Environmental Design Library, University of California, Berkeley
*Columbia University Libraries, New York, NY
*Coos Bay Public Library, Oregon
*DAM Architecture Museum of Architecture Library, Frankfort, Germany
*Danish National Library, Ballerup, Denmark 2750
*Del Norte County Library, Crescent City and Smith River, CA
*Eureka Public Library, Eureka, CA
*Ecole nationale supérieure d’architecture, Montpellier, France
*Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA
*Gunnin Architecture Library, Clemson University, Clemson, SC
*Howard University, Washington DC
*Humboldt State University Library, Arcata, CA
*Institut National des Sciences Appliquées, Strasbourg, France
*Iowa State University, Parks Library, Ames, IA
*Kent State University, College of Architecture and Environmental Design, Kent, OH
*Lawrence Technological University, Southfield, MI
*La Jolla/Riford Public Library, La Jolla, CA
*Loeb Design Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
*Loom and Shuttle Weaving Guild Library, San Francisco, CA
*Manatee County Library System, Bradenton, Florida
*Marriott Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
*Massachusetts College of Art and Design Library, Boston, MA
*Mechanics Institute Library (private library) San Francisco, CA
*Mississippi State University, School of Architecture, Mississippi State, MS
*Montana State University Library, Bozeman, MT
*National Library of Scotland, Edinburg, Scotland
*New Jersey Institute of Technology, Littman Library, Newark, NJ
*New School of Architecture & Design, San Diego, CA
* New York City Public Library, New York
*Norwich University Library, Northfield, Vermont
*North Dakota State University, Dept. of Architecture & Landscape Architecture, Fargo, ND
*Oklahoma State University, Edmond Low Library, Stillwater, OK
*Oakland Public Library, Main Branch, Oakland, CA
*Oshkosh Public Library, Oshkosh, Wisconsin
*Palo Alto City Library,94301, CA
*Paul J Gutman Library, Philadelphia University, Philadelphia, PA
*Rhode Island School of Design Library Services, Providence, RI
*San Francisco Public Library, Main Branch, San Francisco, CA
*San Francisco, Noe Valley Branch, San Francisco. CA
*San Mateo County Public Library, Redwood City
*San Mateo County Library, Half Moon Bay, San Mateo, CA
*Sonoma County Public Library, Santa Rosa, CA
*Southern California Institute of Architecture/Kappe Library, Los Angeles,CA
*SUNY, University at Buffalo, New York
*Syracuse University, School of Architecture, Syracuse, NY
*Topanga Public Library, Topanga, California
*Technical Ref. Center, College of Architecture, Texas A&M University, TX
*The New School Libraries and Archives, University Center New York, NY
*The University of British Columbia, Canada
*TU Berlin Universitatsbibliothek Zentralibibliothek der Technischen Universitat, Berlin, Germany
*Tulane University Library, New Orleans, Louisiana
*University of California; Los Angeles, CA
*University of Colorado, College of Architecture and Planning, Denver, CO
*University of Idaho Library, Moscow, ID
*University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington, KY
*University of Las Vegas, School of Architecture, NV
*University of Manitoba, Canada
*University of Maryland, Cynthia Frank Library School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation, College Park, MD
*University of Minnesota, Architecture Library, Minneapolis, MN
*University of Nebraska, College of Architecture, Lincoln, NE
*University of New Mexico, Center for Southwest Research, Albuquerque, NI
*University of Notre Dame, School of Architecture, IN
*University of Oregon, Architecture and Allied Arts Library, Eugene, OR
*University of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
*University of Western Australia, Crawly, Australia
*University of Wisconsin, School of Architecture and Urban Planning, Milwaukee, WI
*University of South Florida, School of Architecture and Community Design, Tampa, FL
*Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA (International Archive of Women Archives)
*Waldorf High School, San Francisco, CA
*Washington University in St. Louis, St Louis, MO
*Yale University, Sterling Memorial Library, New Haven, CT
To see videos click on words in pink to link to my YouTube page
THANKS to www.1stmindentertainment.com for video design and production ____________________________________________________________
I admire the persistence you have had – and your honesty about gains and losses both in your professional and private life. What a life! Many of the aspects of the working life that you are talking about are familiar for me and are discussed among female colleagues. Over 50% of our students are young women, but often the tone of the discussion comes from men. When discussing about new job positions men tend to think about other men – and women withdraw. This is slowly changing. I will tell about your book for those friends who are active in Architecta. KIITOS. My very best wishes.
_Aino Niskanen, Architecture History Professor, Finland
The book is so immediately engrossing I cancelled my calendar for a day and a half to do nothing but read, sleep, eat and read. Bright white silken-to-the-touch pages lead the reader into a masterwork also laden with exceptional tactile and visual pleasures.
_Jane Cryan, Advocate for cottages, Oshkosh, Wisconsin
I’ve finished reading your book. Fascinating stories! Both L. and I came to America as foreign college students in the late 60s. We definitely noticed the differences in believes and behaviors of the born-in-America fellow students. Some of these caused me to be envious, e.g. travels, pursuits based purely on interest, mostly funded by supportive parents. Some of these appeared frivolous, wasteful or irresponsible, e.g. typical fraternity/sorority activities, excessive sense of entitlement, disrespect for foreign cultures, and such.
We have no children. We observe how our nieces and nephews – 2nd generation immigrants, grow up from a distance. We have never spent the energy to fully understand how these believes and behaviors are developed during a child’s formative years. Your stories about your childhood, Chanette’s, and your college years, filled in many of the blanks. I now have a better understanding of our nieces and nephews.
As for your activism in the feminist movement and career, these stories are more familiar to us. Feminism, along with anti-Vietnam-war and other activities, were hot issues on college campuses. We’ve seen our share of office politics and career road blocks to empathize with your experience.
Looking at the list of places that you’ve visited, you’ve certainly out done us by far. We’re quite familiar with La Jolla because my sister and brother-in-law lived on UCSD campus in the 80s. We visited a few times. Santa Barbara is our favorite over-night stop-over whenever we drive down to southern Cal. We’ve only visited France once and have never set our foot in Africa. Your travel stories are amazing. Driving your own Model-A to college, riding a Vespa from Milan to Munich, going thru the Alps in a 2CV: these are some of the things that I wish I had done when I was young.
_Mr. M.C, retired engineer, and car restoring enthusiast, Palo Alto area, California
Thank you for sending a copy of your book, Enamored with Place: As Woman + As Architect to our Architecture library at Texas A&M University. We look forward to reading your fascinating story, and sharing this book with others.
I think it’s delightful that you have been able to write such an intimate book about your life and career. I feel this book will touch many people. As it arrived, one of our library staff exclaimed to me that this author loves fiber arts – weaving and spinning! You see, even that resonates with someone who has a similar love of textiles and spinning.
Thanks for your efforts in publishing a new and refreshing account of architecture and life. We look forward to the full read.
_Paula Bender, Coordinator of Learning Resources, College of Architecture, Texas A&M University
Thank you for lending me your book- I loved it. The insightful, well written account of your life adventures was an absolute joy to read. I am amazed at the consistency in the goals and themes you have managed to weave throughout your life. You might not have known to pick architecture, but there was no way architecture could not have found you…and lucky for us in the field, it did. I am both thankful for the road you helped pave and inspired to continue the journey of finding true equality in architecture for women. I feel privileged to have met you and look forward to speaking with you again soon.
_Gloria Kim, Architect, San Francisco, CA
I enjoyed reading your book, and I would recommend it to anyone. I especially liked where you talked about your fiber arts.
_Carol Martinez, Zoo keeper and Knitter, Pacifica, CA
I just finished reading your book. It was a fantastic book, very well written. What a life you have had! so adventurous, travels around the world, love of the life with a French and a baby as a young woman, split-up, fighting about the child etc…
Your daughter is only 2 years younger than me.
Your career and your skills in handcrafts are amazing, as is your ability to fight for the rights of women. Amazing!!! I only wish I had a chance to visit you and talk to you face to face.
_Sari Soini, Executive Assistant, Espoo, Finland
What pleased me the most about your book was that it is a memoire. I was relieved to find the explanation as to why your daughter’s name was spelled differently at times. I liked the factual events mixed with the motives and the revealing’s of how your were personally affected. What impressed me were: 1) the freedom and encouragement to explore your individuality that you received from your mother, which was a strong foundation for your growth; 2) how that strong sense of self propelled you around the world in your early years; 3) not only were you aware of the feminine issues, but you did something about that, continuously; 4) you were observant of the needs and interactions of others and encouraged their talents; 5) you were creative; and 6) you tried to protect your daughter from situations that were beyond your control (therein lies sorrow). Thank you Wendy for sharing with me through this book. I have spoken in the past tense, only in regard to what I read. Obviously your vibrant life stretches onward.
_Zoe West, artist, Pheonix, Oregon
International Archive of Women Architects reviews by Marcia Feuerstein and Helene Renard under reviews on this web site
Your book “Enamored With Place” is something wonderful to experience with your interesting travels abroad and especially with your descriptive and moving narrative of all the sexist discrimination from the majority of the men in your field of architecture. Your courage and many talents are evident in the stories of surviving that discrimination and proving your efficiency in your chosen field even though greatly outnumbered by men. You are a model for younger women architectural students. As an ardent women’s advocate and memoir writer (While I Still Have All My Marbles) and as a knitter, I appreciated your words about developing an interest in spinning your own yarn and weaving beautiful items with that yarn in retirement. What separates your publication from most others is the artistry of the presentation from cover to cover. So attractive and enjoyable. Great job.
—Helen Fama, Traveler, dancer, San Francisco, California
I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your experiences in a field with so few women and about your cooperative, innovative approach to problem-solving. Yours is definitely a book I will recommend to my longtime Women’s Circle and also to young women who are embarking on their careers and could benefit from your inspiring words.
—Jan Hudson, Retired administrator, counselor, teacher, San Francisco, California
—Rosemary Garcia, Artist, Crescent City, California
Terrific Read! I finished your memoir this week and I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed it!! Reading about your adventures, your heartbreaks, and your determination to be an architect are all inspiring. I was reading a story in the New York Times today about the struggle for gender equity at Harvard’s Business School, and realized how your experiences working in an male dominated profession unfortunately still remains true today.
—JoAnne Berke, Professor, Art Department, Humboldt State University, Arcata, California
Wendy, I received the three books you sent. Terrific. Could you please send us another 3 copies urgently.
—John Basagolou, Aalto Books, New Zealand
I thought you were a plain Jane from San Francisco, and then I read your very interesting book!
—Leonard Morrison, Carpenter, Del Norte County, Ca.
I finally completed the joy that was reading your life’s journey. You are a marvelous writer and am so impressed w/ your commitment to your craft, your innate love of and abilities in architecture, your savoring of that which is space and its intentions and needs. Thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed it.
—Lisa Moresco, owner Moresco Kitchen Wisdom, San Francisco
Wendy, I so enjoyed meeting you at the SF Book Festival, you are such a joy. I appreciated your thoughts on writing, sense of place, gender and the work place relevant and thought-provoking. Thank you for sharing your deeply personal story in the book and for keeping the magic of creating space alive. I also want to thank you for giving new energy to the important conversation about women’s voice and value in the professional world. We need it, we need women like you who care and are living proof that it’s possibly to follow your passion in a ‘man’s world’ while living a very feminine life.
—Lone Morch, author of Seeing RED, Sausolito
For many years I have searched for books like, Enamored with Place, as I have navigated through my own career in architecture. For me it was a very refreshing read that reveals what so many women struggle through in secret in this and many other professions. Wendy invites the reader into a detailed and candid story of her life as a woman, single mother and architect followed by an insightful epilouge about changes needed in the architectural profession. After charting new paths for herself and others as a woman in architecture, she has clearly chosen to blaze a new trail for herself by courageously sharing her intimate life story as a writer. As a sister designer, one can appreciate and experience in her writting the same care and thoughtful attention to detail with which she conveys her approach to her career as an architect. In addition to the writing itself, her passion for life, architecture and her daughter is equally evident in all the physical details of the book: the title and graphics, the incorporation of her daughters art work into the book cover, the time line graphics at the beginning and end of each chapter and thoughtful incorporation of photos to satisfy one’s visual curiosity as she tells her story. Congratulations!!
—Shelley Davis, Architectural Project Manager & Jeweler, Oakland, Ca.
I am mightily impressed. I loved the way you write, and your descriptions are wonderful. What an interesting life you’ve led! I had to get out a world map in order to follow the places/cities you mentioned, and it is hard to believe that you traveled and lived on so very little money.
—Helen P. Dotson, retired Telecommunications Manager, Florida
Presenting your book (at The Green Arcade Bookstore) and describing it made me visualize your book almost like a blueprint. You laid it out with the supports at either end- Preface, Introduction____ Epilogue. and 36 compartments within. It was so illuminating to me. I am now on Chapter 7 in my reading and I have been so struck by your memory, the descriptions of outfits, the moods, the first impressions etc. just amaze me.
The intriguing discussion could have gone in so many directions. I loved your clarity of purpose. The way you detailed your process of choosing the title. The importance of holding Place in the space of being a Woman and additionally holding Place from the space of being an Architect. It solidified into something geometric for me.
Describing the words and wefts of your rugs was one of those thoughts that I look forward to mulling over when I get back to my loom.
—Nancy Germano, professional weaver, living in San Francisco
It was wonderful having you visit last Friday and all of us were so impressed with your book, presentation, and the professional way you got the job done. As one of the Wednesday Writers said yesterday, “Wendy knows how to execute!” The book is a beautiful work of art and shows the love and care you took with it.
—Elizabeth Fishel, co-author of When Will My Grown-Up Kid Grow Up? and leader of the Wednesday Writers’ groups in Oakland
Just wanted to congratulate you on your book. A nice true life story well presented, well written, nicely laid out and on good quality paper. I enjoyed reading your story about your world travels and your fight for equality in the work place. Sorry you had to fight a lot for woman’s rights but that’s the way it was then, you were a true pioneer at that time and i’m sure you still are today. I think today thanks to you and others like you that the situation is much better, perhaps not there yet, but much better than it was that’s for sure. I remember when i worked for some of the larger engineering company’s in the bay area that the number of woman engineer’s was about 1%, that covered all dep’t of engineering, so you were not a lone.
—Pete Holland, retired from engineering, now living in France
Thanks you so much for inviting me to your presentation at the SF Main Library March 5, 2013. It was lively successful event and I’m glad I was able to be a part of it. I thought the way you got everyone to contribute in the conversation at the end was great because each person had something to offer in the way of new perspectives and ideas. And I even sold a copy of my biography of Margaret Fuller: An Uncommon Woman. Thanks
—Adele Fasick, blogger & author of women’s history, San Francisco
Gee I knew your mother but didn’t ever know so much about you. I couldn’t put it down. Thanks for writing this book. It was so much fun to read with all the colorful graphics and photos and I didn’t have to look up many words. You were a champion of women in architecture. I feel like a feminist too.
—Jacqueline Schouten, retired teacher and long time librarian, San Diego, California
I am so pleased that Lea, my sister, showed me your book about life, places, and architecture when I visited her in Oregon. I was hopping chapters because I knew I wouldn’t have time to read the entire book, but here a few comments:
“Everyone took his/her shoes off before stepping onto the white wall-to-wall carpet in the nondescript magazine interior of the elegant house.” We have that same ideal in Finland, without personality!
The China year made me see and feel the atmosphere in the environment as well as in the marriage.
When one reads a good storyteller, it seems so simple! You also wrap everything up nicely in the ends of the chapters
Liked the story about the cup p.145, an object we all use.
Did not have time to read the whole thing in ten days – but what I read was certainly enjoyable!
—Helen Elde, Theater actor, Helsinki, Finland
I finished your book today. You’re an excellent writer, and I enjoyed the reading. Yet when I read the introduction, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go on. For me, the somewhat general and abstract nature of the introduction wasn’t very interesting. But then I got into your life story and the other specifics, and I was hooked.
Because we’re contemporaries, I was able to compare what I was doing with the times/places you described. You were much more brave and adventurous than I was.
I’m a wanna-be architect. So I was interested to learn all about your schooling and day-to-activities as a working architect, especially for the Navy. Regarding two of my heroes–Buckminster Fuller and Frank Lloyd Wright–I have a couple of comments.
Did you know that Bucky referred to architects as “exterior decorators”? Here’s his reasoning: a banker tells a developer how many units are required to make a property/project profitable enough to get financing; the developer hires an engineer to create the structure required to build that many units (mainly applies to commercial); then an architect is hired to make the structure attractive. Bucky was also always asking architects: “Do you know how much your building weighs? If you don’t, how can you judge its performance? Shipbuilders and airframe builders know exactly what their structures weigh.”
Fuller also said that development was “one real estate exploitation piled on top of another–orchards and ranches to subdivisions; subdivisions to commercial development; commercial buildings to high-rise.”
Compared with my book, yours is beautiful and extremely well-produced. And though I thought the cover type treatment was a bit too fussy, I overall think the typesetting was excellent. Still, I found a few typos and omissions, but not as many as I’ve already found in my much-shorter book.
— Pete J. Chasar, aritist and writer, Brookings, Oregon
Stunning cover! Nice to see the hatched texture in the word “place.” Nice the way the designer carries through the design on the jacket flaps. I like the list of places on the end pages in your architectural printing hand. The small size of photos sprinkled throughout is effective —the one of your artist grandmother is a little treasure.
—Britta Brice, Artist, La Jolla, California, 2012
______________________________________________________________ A great story of life
Your stories – both personal and professional – echoed some of my own hopes, trepidations and challenges going forward as a young professional woman, and it was so refreshing to read how you dealt with each of your challenges, and moved upwards and onwards with no regrets and your integrity in tact. Sometimes your words sound like an advice my mother would give me, and the description of your interactions with your daughter gave me some insight into emotions my mother would have gone through with me at points.
On the professional front, I noted with interest and potential elements for further expansion:
– your penchant for inserting graphic components into assignments
– the ‘fake it til you make it’ attitude
– questioning what is ‘good enough’ for the public (200): I go through similar dilemmas in projects that are of pro bono nature – just because it’s free, doesn’t mean that it needs to be low-quality- discussion on the role of architecture
– development as a speculation rather than appropriate
– your thoughts on community organizing, “could leadership and planning influence the visual impact of development?”
I would like to propose that we pull something together for Architecture + Women New Zealand group – they’re open to new publications and submissions by members, both local and from overseas.”
— Alexandra JaYeun Lee, BAS, B.Arch, PhD Candidate, School of Architecture and Planning, University of Aukland, New Zealand, 2012
“I thoroughly enjoyed your comments, observations and adventures. Your have a great writing style and I am impressed with the journey that your life is taking you on. I am sure that there are many others in the Humbug Guild that will enjoy reading your book. It will be placed in our Library for selection.”
—Eileen Davis-Diaz, Newsletter editor of the Humbug Spinners and Weavers Guild, retired teacher, Bandon, Oregon, 2012
“I admire your courage to write this book, to tell and share your struggles and accomplishments personally and professionally.”
— Hourig Ayanyan, Intern Architect, Concord, California, 2012
“We love it so far, C fights me to get it when I put it down. We both agree you are such a good writer.” “My (C) first impression is that you are certainly a lucky person as people only dream of all the different places you have been able to experience. I know I have. You have led a very charmed life. Your style of writing makes it so easy to get totally immersed in the story and not wanting to put it down. Your descriptions of places and people are certainly a talent and I enjoyed the photos scattered throughout.Lately, on either radio or television or on the Internet; there have been stories about how women struggle in the workplace. I know I am just more aware of it because I have read your story. I knew it was a reality but not maybe how prevalent it still is. ”
— Cynthia Eakin, Real Estate agent and Ruffy Eakin, Custom furniture maker, Martha’s Vineyard, Massachuetts, 2012
“Glad you wrote this book and a very good first paragraph, we always like the author to read the first paragraph of the body of the text when we get it.”
— Lucia Bogatay, Architect and Tom Wickens, Mathematician. San Francisco, California, 2012
“Great to see your book is out. Awesome photo cover by Cha. I enjoyed skimming the sample pages and reading about you.”
— Dana Sakamoto, Environmental Engineer, San Diego, California, 2012
“Congratulations on your new book, ‘Enamored with Place’, a great title! Many of us think about writing a book or doing something dramatic—but we seldom do— so congratulations again. P.S. Outstanding cover design.”
— Dick Lareau, Architect, San Diego, California, 2012
“The book arrived……………. and it’s beautiful!!! Wonderfully designed….”
— Ellen Perry Berkeley, Architectural Journalist, Vermont, 2012
“Your book is outstanding. I can’t believe how much I am enjoying it. Can’t put it down in the evening, and can’t wait to pick it up the next day…. also the layout of the book is unique and attractive- different color paper for the Preface and Epilogue, colored page numbers, artistic curves on some of the pages, pictures that enhance the narrative, small red circles dividing paragraphs, and the paper feels good.”
— Paul Thrash, former Navy engineer, Oakland, California, 2012
…that feels so nice and solid in the hand, would you like us to review it?
— Sharon Miller, Library Director of Mechanic’s Institute, San Francisco, California, 2012
“Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!…I am turning the pages of your book with excitement and pleasure. It is hard to put down!”
— Annie Drager, poet, activist and community gardener, Phoenix, Oregon, 2012