Fine Arts professor publishes architecture book

December 06, 2019 / by / 2 Comments

By Ashlee Larrison
GCU News Bureau 

It started as a chance for Grand Canyon University College of Fine Arts and Production Professor Alison King to channel her interest in writing. It evolved into a published book.

Writing is one of Alison King’s many interests. (Photo courtesy of Samuel Ybarra)

“Making Architecture,” available at Changing Hands Bookstore, highlights and celebrates the different forms of architecture in Arizona over the past 19 years. King says it is a great starting point for anyone curious about the world of Arizona architecture.

“The book is written as an introduction to how architecture is made,” King said. “The architecture industry is known for something called archi-speak, which is really esoteric, high level, ethereal language that only other architects really understand, and sometimes they don’t even really understand each other.

“It’s kind of this trend that’s happened where in magazines and in interviews architects speak on these levels and everyday people don’t understand that. So that was part of the goal of the writing … to write it in ordinary language and to give people information one chunk at a time so they can start to build up their own knowledge of how this works.”


In 2003, King and her husband, Matthew, created Modern Phoenix, a network that has published Arizona’s largest inventory of midcentury architecture. It collaborates on events such as Modern Phoenix Week, which features tours, education and events for design professionals and enthusiasts.

King is a social media writer and blogger for 180 Degree Design + Build, which wanted to put together a book and turned to King. 

“Basically they just said, ‘Alison, we need help with this, come on in and do it for the summer,’” she said. “They knew what I was capable of. They’re a fan of my brand and I’m a fan of their brand, so we decided to fuse those skills together and help elevate their brand for their new marketing goals.”

King taught at the Art Institute of Phoenix for 18 years as a professor of design and assessment. When it closed in 2018, King came to GCU to continue to feed her love of teaching but also sought out projects that fed her other interests, such as writing about architecture.

One of the photos of some of the architecture displayed in the book. (Photo courtesy of Matt Winquist)

“I was adjuncting for GCU this last year and I needed to fill in my work with stuff that I love to do, so I promised myself that I would only do things that I love to do and I have an abundance of things that I love to do,” she said. “Writing is one of them.”

King is a full-time instructor in the digital design program and has shared the  writing of “Making Architecture” with her students, old and new.

“They’ve kind of been with me on the journey,” she said. “My deadlines were coinciding with the beginning of the semester. … I had tons of freelance work and I was working here, so the first two months working here were hectic because I was still trying to finish up my contract that I had already committed to and signed to.

“I had shared that with my students that this is what freelance life is like. You have to hustle, and you have to commit, and just because things change you don’t need to change course.”

The photography in the book highlights some of the beautiful architecture Arizona has. (Photo courtesy of Matt Winquist)

King shared her campaign for the book with the students in her social media class and taught them the ins and outs of the process, how to measure book-signing attendance and how to effectively utilize teaser trailers to boost excitement for the book. King believes that by sharing her journey with her students, she helps remind them that professors’ careers in their field don’t end when they decide to teach.

“I hope it was interesting for them to see a campaign unfold in real time and to see it succeed and to see that we professors do things that aren’t ‘professorly,’” she said. “We still practice our craft.”

King said the Arizona architecture community has reacted positively to the book. Soft-cover copies sold out at an exhibition, and 40 books — nearly one per minute — sold at a 45-minute book signing during a recent state architecture conference.

King also can take satisfaction out of the fact that it is almost entirely her work. 

“I did the design, I did the research, I did all the art direction, I had to curate thousands of the photographs, like literally looking at thousands of photographs picking just the right ones to tell the story, wrote 95% of the body copy,” she said. “I physically did 80% of the design and had assistance with the last 20% when I got hired here (at GCU), so it is a total work of art.”

Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected]


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2 Responses
  1. Phillip A. Bynum

    I may pick this up for research myself. I do wonder though, if the book touches base on the fact that the Phoenix (Valley Area) doesn’t utilize solar energy on a scale that it should. I would welcome an open discussion on why the “Commission” protects the power companies in lieu of saving millions (or even billions) by doing all they can to protect their (the power companies) interests. As one can see in Germany and other countries (with less solar exposure) solar is utilized as an Architectural feature while saving countless dollars in energy costs. Shouldn’t the goal be to advance our alternative energy sources on the highest levels so that Architecture can help funnel public dollars in more social assisting methods?

    Dec.06.2019 at 1:58 pm
  2. Patco Construction Company

    There really is a lot of interesting terms we use as architects. Putting things in easy to understand language is always a smart idea. Congrats on the success of your book!

    May.15.2020 at 11:07 am
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