Free Online Book Discussion July 17th 12:00 PM – 1:15 PM

Free Online Book Discussion July 17th 12:00 PM – 1:15 PM


As previously announced, APA Utah will host a free online book discussion on Charleston Fancy: Little Houses and Big Dreams in the Holy City by Witold Rybczynski (pronounced Vee-told Rib-chin-ski). Our discussion will be “online only” on Monday, July 17th, from 12:00 PM to 1:15 PM. One (1) AICP CM credit is expected for this educational session (pending approval). To join the discussion, please email Michael Maloy at to receive a meeting link.


If you haven’t started reading yet and want to participate, there is still time to enjoy this 257-page “breezy” read, which is readily available in various formats and sources. And if you are not already familiar with this excellent author or wonderful book, the following summaries from our original announcement have been reposted below.


Who is Witold Rybczynski?


Witold Rybczynski was born in Edinburgh, of Polish parentage, raised in London, and attended Jesuit schools in England and Canada. He studied architecture at McGill University in Montreal, where he also taught for twenty years. He is Emeritus Professor of Urbanism at the University of Pennsylvania. Rybczynski has designed and built houses as a registered architect, as well as doing practical experiments in low-cost housing, which took him to Mexico, Central America, Nigeria, Tanzania, India, the Philippines, and China. He has written for the Atlantic, New Yorker, New York Review of Books, and the New York Times, and has been architecture critic for Saturday Night, Wigwag, and Slate. From 2004 to 2012, he served on the U. S. Commission of Fine Arts. These experiences were shared with his wife of many years, Shirley Hallam, from 1944 to 2021. (


Charleston Fancy


Amazon describes Charleston Fancy as “A captivating chronicle of building in modern-day Charleston, making a case for architecture based on historical precedent, local context, and the ability to delight.” Amazon continues its book summary as follows:


“Charleston, South Carolina, which boasts America’s first historic district, is known for its palmetto-lined streets and picturesque houses. The Holy City, named for its profusion of churches, exudes an irresistible charm. Award-winning author and cultural critic Witold Rybczynski unfolds a series of stories about a group of youthful architects, builders, and developers based in Charleston: a self-taught home builder, an Air Force pilot, a fledgling architect, and a bluegrass mandolin player.


“Beginning in the 1980s, this cast of characters, exercising a kind of amateur mastery, produced an eclectic array of buildings inspired by the past—including a domed Byzantine drawing room, a fanciful medieval castle, a restored freedman’s cottage, a miniature Palladian villa, and a contemporary Mediterranean street. In his careful profiles of these protagonists and the challenges they have overcome in realizing their dreams, Rybczynski compellingly emphasizes the importance of architecture and urban design on a local level, how an old city can remake itself by invention as well as replication, and the role that individuals still play in transforming the urban landscapes around them.”


For city planners, one of the keenest insights gained from reading Charleston Fancy is glimpsing “the other side” of the incredibly difficult—and often risky—development process. And for our development partners, Rybczynski demonstrates the value and success of being a thoughtful, creative, and committed development partner, architect, or builder. Personally, I wish we had more partners like those portrayed in Charleston Fancy building in beautiful Utah!


If you have any questions about this or other APA Utah book discussions, please contact me at or (435) 496-0431 (voice or text). Hope to see you online!


  • July 17, 2023
    12:00 pm - 1:15 pm
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