The Royal Business

My friend Marc Appleton recently recommended a book by Royal Barry Wills. Wills (1895-1962), a Massachusetts native, was an architect (though his MIT degree was in engineering) who in the 1930s popularized the Cape Cod cottage and was a well-known residential designer. In 1938, LIFE magazine invited several architects to design modern and traditional houses; actual families would then chose one to build. Wills prevailed over no less than Frank Lloyd Wright. Wills’s book is the long out-of-print This Business of Architecture, originally published in 1941. It contains chapters titled “Stalking and Capturing of Clients” and “Design Within the Owner’s Budget.” The book is illustrated with Wills’s delightful drawings, and the tone is sensible, down-to-earth, and slightly sardonic. More than seventy years old, the book still rewards close reading and I would recommend it to any budding practitioner. Incidentally, Wills practiced what he preached; his firm, established in 1925, is still in business.

Cape Cod Cottage, design and photo by Royal Barry Wills

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