Quonset Hut

Metal Living for a Modern Age

Chris Chiei, Julie Decker

     7.2 × 8.25 in (18.3 × 21.0 cm)
192 pages
80 color illustrations, 110 b/w illustrations
Publication date: 10/1/2005
Rights: World
ISBN: 9781568985190

When World War II came along, the American military found itself in need of a prefabricated, lightweight shelter that could be easily shipped and quickly assembled. The Quonset hut, that sliced tube of corrugated metal, was the answer. Over a hundred thousand were produced as part of the war effort. In its aftermath, even more were built and existing huts were adapted to house the postwar population boom. Of course, it couldn't last: the American desire for permanence meant decay and neglect for many of these rough-and-ready shelters and quickie warehouses.

But in the midst of its almost tragic tale of extinction, the quonset hut has emerged as an unexpected icon of Americana and an oasis of architectural imagination. Travel the back roads of America and you will find the quonset's distinctive shape enclosing everything from houses of worship to houses of pancakes.

Quonset Hut tells the story of this unique architectural phenomena, from its birth during WWII as a mass-production shelter to its new status as an icon of American pragmatism, ingenuity, perseverance, and individuality.

Chris Chiei is project director for the national research project Quonset. He is director of the Alaska Design Forum and is a professional architect. Julie Decker is author of Icebreakers: Alaska's Most Innovative Artist. She has curated numerous exhibits on contemporary art as owner of the Decker/Morris Gallery. Both authors live in Anchorage, Alaska.

Reader Comments

Great book about Great little structures (rating 5 out of 5):
For anyone interested in the history of architecture and/or industry, this book is for you. Chock full of interesting photos, and lovely little tales, it tells the story of the humble hut. While this building could hardly be said to have "won the war" it certainly contributed to the comfort of the soldiers and sailors who did. Having lived as an infantryman in Viet Nam in 1965, the early days of our troop buildup, staying first in pup tents when at our home base and later in squad tents, I would have loved the relative comfort of the Quonset Hut. The photos in this book are more than worth its price, but the well written and well researched text helps one understand what these almost forgotten buildings were. I lived twice in Quonset huts as a boy, in Alaska and then in California (I preferred the latter) and I learned to respect these structures, if not love them.
- Thomas Twist from Santa Cruz Mountains, CA (01/31/2006)

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