A-frame book cover

A-frame, the book

A-frame by Chad Randl was published in June 2004 by Princeton Architectural Press. It is available now at online booksellers, bookstores or via the publisher.

The book explores post-World War II American leisure culture as reflected in one of the most compelling architectural events of the 1950s: the development of the A-frame vacation home. The arrival of the A-frame coincided with a postwar era in which increases in disposable income and free time combined with a new national emphasis on recreation, the building of roads through wilderness areas and cost-saving innovations in construction to spark a vacation home boom. A variety of second home forms was available, from the log cabin to the International Style glass box. But for those wanting a place that was unusual and exciting, modern yet warm, cheap and easy to build by developer and amateur alike, a place wholly suited to the informal leisure lifestyle, the A-frame was an appealing alternative.

A-frame illustration

At a time when the emphasis was on low cost designs that also stirred the imagination, A-frames delivered both. Depending on who was looking at it, the A-frame was the embodiment of contemporary geometric inventiveness or a steadfast, timeless form that suggested the wilderness and rustic survival. Perhaps most importantly, it got attention. This broad appeal suggests why A-frames were quickly appropriated for roadside commercial buildings such as hot dog stands, cafes and liquor stores, and even for postwar religious architecture. As the A-frame became a cultural phenomenon and symbol of style, its image was used to sell everything from lumber to doll houses to frozen vegetables.


Below are select excerpts from various chapters.


Postwar Vacation Homes

Leisure House

Dr. Hellyer's A-frame

Book Excerpt (26-page PDF)

More excerpts at Amazon

A-frame assembly illustration

In the News

A-frame has been reviewed or otherwise mentioned in the following publications:
New York magazine
"The Financial Times" (UK)
The Independent Magazine (UK)
Building Design
Old House Journal
"The Baltimore Sun"
"The San Jose Mercury News"
The Architects' Journal(UK)
House and Garden
"Publishers Weekly"
"Boston Sunday Globe"
City magazine
Array magazine
ReadyMade magazine
"The Comfort Zone" an Australian Broadcasting Corporation program