For centuries, architects and artists have built dwellings for themselves (as well as for clients who lent themselves as surrogates). These houses serve as showcases of their designer’s art, often house collections and provide space for work, and, at times, offer a retreat from professional life. From Thomas Jefferson to Philip Johnson, from John Soane to Eileen Gray and Frank Gehry, building a house of one’s own often harks back to Renaissance and Baroque models while exploring new manifestations of the architect’s role. The seminar examines wide-ranging readings in artistic autobiography and numerous buildings with an eye to their peculiar nature as “shells of life.”