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Instead of asking “Where are these women?” start writing about them and telling their unique stories.Yes, we need to call out the systemic issues in the industry that are perpetuated time and time again and prevent many women from rising through the ranks. They need to be discussed and approached thoughtfully. But why not show what the redefinition of success looks like by writing about the myriad women who are doing exceptional, sensitive, and important work while simultaneously running businesses, acting as caregivers, and making time to mentor? To me, that is the beginning of change. Instead of asking “Where are these women?” start writing about them and telling their unique stories. Show their successes, their reinventions of practices, and how they forged their own paths. Take Andrea Simitch, who leads the nation’s top-ranked undergraduate architecture program, or Nina Freedman, the former “secret wing” to Shigeru Ban and founder of Dreamland Creative Projects. There is also Sylvia Smith, senior partner at FXCollaborative, who started and oversees the firm’s award-winning cultural and educational practice, as well as Sandra McKee, who spearheaded Rafael Viñoly’s Tokyo International Forum but now owns her own international studio and hosts ArchiteXX’s mentorship sessions. Younger women are also emerging as leaders in the field. Elyse Marks, a restoration architect, rope-access technician, and marathoner, defies gender norms every day while hanging hundreds of feet in the air, while Alda Ly, one of the co-founders of MASS Design Group, runs her own practice working with entrepreneurs and startups like The Wing. Danei Cesario is raising two girls while traveling to speak on industry equity and diversity, while Isabel Oyuela-Bonzani introduces architecture to high school students.
There are clearly many women who are architects, but the yardstick for evaluating good architecture and success is shortsighted.There are also countless women I’ve met who may not build, but advance the practice and advocate for the value of architecture and architects, like critic Alexandra Lange, public relations expert Tami Hausman, strategist Ashley Bryan, and activist Jessica Myers. These women show there are different types of success at all levels that deserve to be celebrated and talked about. There are clearly many women who are architects, but the yardstick for evaluating good architecture and success is shortsighted. Good architecture now has a broader definition, and we can be more inclusive in showcasing the architecture that addresses the issues facing society today. I should also note that the women I’ve called out in this article are all based in New York. Since I live and work full-time here, these are the architects with whom I can have meaningful, intimate, face-to-face conversations. Of course, I am trying to profile more women located elsewhere in the country and around the world. But just imagine: If there are so many unique stories held within a singular city, there must be countless architects out there doing fascinating work that we need to acknowledge. In last week’s New York Times op-ed, writer Allison Arieff quoted Caroline James, a graduate of Harvard’s architecture program and founder of the advocacy group Design for Equality. James told Arieff that it’s “time to ID the problem and what we need to do moving forward” by giving women the tools they can use to succeed, such as mentorship and access to information. This is exactly my goal for Madame Architect, and the same spirit drives other organizations like ArchiteXX, Rebel Architette, Equity by Design, and Girl Uninterrupted. We should also start early by speaking and listening to students, asking them what questions they have, what resources they’ll need, and what kinds of mentors they want. When I was studying at Cornell, I read Toshiko Mori’s newly-released monograph and remember focusing on the following words which have since fueled my attitude toward my career: “Architects cannot be defeated by disappointments. The profession requires mental strength, good health, and especially a strong stomach. An unlimited amount of optimism, a healthy dose of idealism, and high energy and high spirits help us to persevere through difficult circumstances.” This industry is tough and we need to infuse it with this kind of motivation. We need a strong start in 2019 where we can mobilize, spread knowledge, build community, and support men and women alike within architecture. I don’t believe this is the only solution, but this moment is a new beginning. So let’s write about these women—these architects—in the way that Karrie wrote about Nicole. We are not missing and we will no longer be hidden. Julia Gamolina is the founder and editor of Madame Architect. She also currently handles business development at FXCollaborative.
2018 Best of Design Awards winners for Digital Fabrication
Slated to be the tallest tower in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 260 Kent by COOKFOX Architects was designed using an innovative precast exterior concept inspired by the molecular structure of sugar crystals. In a unique collaboration between the architect, developer, and Gate Precast, the same BIM model that was used to design the facade and create early scaled 3D-printed models was utilized to print molds for the precast panels. When complete, the facade is intended to act as a shading element. Opening in fall 2019, the 42-story tower will join the already open 325 Kent and Domino Park as the latest edition to the Domino Sugar waterfront redevelopment project.
Are You Leddy For It?
2018 Best of Design Awards winners for Adaptive Reuse
Stalled! for time
2018 Best of Design Awards winners for Research
By converting an uninhabitable attic into a unified and light-filled volume, Mork Ulnes Architects gave new life to a 1907 Victorian flat. The formerly compartmentalized house was transformed into an expansive home centered on collective living. To host a growing family, the gabled attic level was lightly divided into bedrooms, thanks to a series of partial-height walls. A double-height stair atrium cuts into the center of the building, linking the newly habitable attic to the levels below. The attic’s wood framework is a graphic echo of the original roofline within the expanded building shell. This framework language carries throughout the project in casework details, windows, guardrails, and the kitchen.