Tournament of Books 2015

Special Offers see all

Enter to WIN a $100 Credit

Subscribe to
for a chance to win.
Privacy Policy

Visit our stores

    Recently Viewed clear list

    Original Essays | February 13, 2015

    T. Geronimo Johnson: IMG Be Happy, Be Cheerful, Be Joyful, Be Anything But Gay

    My new novel, Welcome to Braggsville, is a satire about four college kids who perform an "intervention" at a Civil War reenactment, and quickly... Continue »

Qualifying orders ship free.
New Hardcover
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
available for shipping or prepaid pickup only
Available for In-store Pickup
in 7 to 12 days
Qty Store Section
3 Remote Warehouse Business- History and Biography

A Better Way to Build: A History of the Pankow Companies


A Better Way to Build: A History of the Pankow Companies Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

While architects have been the subject of many scholarly studies, we know very little about the companies that built the structures they designed. This book is a study in business history as well as civil engineering and construction management. It details the contributions that Charles J. Pankow, a 1947 graduate of Purdue University, and his firm have made as builders of large, often concrete, commercial structures since the companys foundation in 1963. In particular, it uses selected projects as case studies to analyze and explain how the company innovated at the project level. The company has been recognized as a pioneer in “design-build,” a methodology that involves the construction company in the development of structures and substitutes negotiated contracts for the bidding of architects plans. The Pankow companies also developed automated construction technologies that helped keep projects on time and within budget. The book includes dozens of photographs of buildings under construction from the companys archive and other sources. At the same time, the author analyzes and evaluates the strategic decision making of the firm through 2004, the year in which the founder died. While Charles Pankow figures prominently in the narrative, the book also describes how others within the firm adapted the business so that the company could survive a commercial market that changed significantly as a result of the recession of the 1990s. Extending beyond the scope of most business biographies, this book is a study in industry innovation and the power of corporate culture, as well as the story of one particular company and the individuals who created it.
 Key Features:
·       There are many books about architects, but very few about twentieth-century “makers.”
·       Tells the story behind many iconic buildings, especially in the western half of the US.
·       Charles Pankow was a pioneer in concrete construction and the “design-build” system.

About the Author

Michael R. Adamson, PhD (UC Santa Barbara, 2000), has taught history at a number of institutions, most recently at California State University, and is an independent historical consultant. His research focuses on California business and urban history, natural resource development in the West, and US foreign economic policy. In 2006-2007 and 2008-2009, he was a fellow at the Huntington Library, where he researched the career of Ralph B. Lloyd, a southern California oil man and commercial real estate developer in Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. His essays have appeared in American Sociological Review, Business History Review, Diplomatic History, Financial History Review, the Journal of American-East Asian Relations, the Journal of Urban History, Presidential Studies Quarterly, and several scholarly collections.

Arthur J. Fox Jr. (“Art Fox”) is Editor Emeritus of Engineering News Record, past president of the American Society of Civil Engineers, and the recipient of many other awards and recognitions. He has been a leading commenter on the engineering and construction industries for over sixty years.

Product Details

Adamson, Michael R.
Purdue University Press
Michael R.
Corporate History
Construction - General
Edition Description:
Hardcover w/Dust Jacket
Publication Date:
9 x 6 x 2 in 2 lb

Related Subjects

Business » General
Business » History and Biographies
Business » Management
Business » Writing
Engineering » Construction » General
Engineering » Engineering » History
Science and Mathematics » Mathematics » General

A Better Way to Build: A History of the Pankow Companies New Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$53.50 In Stock
Product details 460 pages Purdue University Press - English 9781557536341 Reviews:
  • back to top


Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at