Posts tagged with "Women in Architecture":

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Women in architecture make their voices heard in Venice

This morning at 11:00 AM, a large crowd of women (and male supporters) met just inside the entrance gates of the Biennale’s garden to protest a lack of recognition of “woman in architecture.” The fan waving crowd cheered as co-organizer Martha Thorne read a prepared statement asking for women to receive more recognition and support from the profession and the media. The event, according to Thorne, Odile Decq, and Toshiko Mori, three of the original organizers, started with this small group but has quickly developed into a network of “hundreds of supporters!” The only slip up was that the protest took place inside the gates of the Biennale and thus many young supporters were denied entrance to participate as they did not have a ticket on this media-only preview day. Still, over 100 people participated, including Francine Houben of Mecanoo, Farshid Moussavi, Jeanne Gang, and curators from The Met and MoMA. The organizers claim that architecture school students are now 60% female, so that today’s "Giardini" protest is only recognizing what will become a reality tomorrow. Below is the prepared statement that the group read: “MANIFESTO We as Voices of Women are building conversations and taking actions to raise awareness to combat pervasive prejudices and disrespectful behavior that appears to be systemic in our culture and discipline. We are united in denouncing discrimination, harassment and aggressions against any member of our community. We will not tolerate it. We will not stand silent. Women are not a minority in the world, but women are still a minority in the architecture field and we want it to better reflect better the world in which we live. The Venice Architecture Biennale 2018 FREESPACE is a crucial moment of awakening to promote equitable and respectful treatment of all members of the architectural community irrespective of gender, race, nationality, sexuality and religion. We will join hands with co-workers, students, clients, collaborators, and our male colleagues to create a new path forward toward equitable work and educational environments that promote respectful discourse and open exchange of ideas. Be a fan of voices of women. Make a vow to uphold fairness, transparency, and collaboration in Architecture NOW.”
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At Venice Biennale this Friday, a call for women’s voices

The Architect's Newspaper received a notice from a group of women architects calling for a public action at the Venice Architecture Biennale on May 25. Our reporters will also be on the scene to cover the action. "We are a group of international women (diverse in terms of ages, background and professional roles) who have decided to gather on Friday 25 at 11.00 am in the Giardini in the main walk along the Stirling Pavilion for a flash mob to stand, read a statement about women in architecture, as women in other fields such as cinema or politics have done, because it is important to raise consciousness in our field. We propose that you come on Friday and join us. Please bring a fan with you as a sign and also because of the hot weather!"
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Women in architecture winners announced by Architects’ Journal and The Architectural Review

The Architectural Review and The Architect’s Journal have jointly announced their 2018 Women in Architecture award winners, with Peruvian architect Sandra Barclay taking home the Architect of the Year award, and Paraguayan architect Gloria Cabral receiving the Moira Gemmill Prize for Emerging Architecture. Recognizing exemplary, recently completed projects, the Architect of the Year award for 2018 was given to Barclay for her work on the Paracas Museum in Paracas, Peru, finished in 2016 by Barclay & Crousse Architecture. The squat archaeological museum’s predecessor was destroyed in an earthquake in 2017, and Barclay’s replacement builds upward with rotated spaces, creating a geometry reminiscent of the patterns found in native Paracas textiles. Clad in a red pozzolan cement, the museum seems to fade into the surrounding Paracas Desert while also standing apart from it, blending the form of ancient ruins with new construction. The judges felt the same way, saying, “Aware of the lack of control onsite and limited resources, the architects responded to the lack of context with a design that is both robust and simple, yet powerful, and even its man-made imperfection adds value to the building”. Cabral, a partner at Gabinete de Arquitectura, has won the Moira Gemmill Prize for Emerging Architecture, a $13,700 prize fund created to honor Moira Gemmill, the late director of design at London's Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A). The judges cited Cabral’s innovative use of cheap, ubiquitous local materials to create novel and often-times more efficient forms. Cabral has been something of an up-and-coming name in the architecture world, having been taken under the wing of Peter Zumthor as Rolex’s 2014 cohort of protégés, and later winning a Golden Lion at the 2016 Venice Biennale. According to the Moira Gemmill Prize judges, ‘Beyond her deep understanding of materials and construction, Cabral showed a sensitive appreciation of the life and use of the buildings she designs. Her commitment is extraordinary and her passion is infectious.” More information about the winners and the shortlist for each prize can be found here.
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This site showcases achievements of pioneering women in American architecture

A new site started by a nonprofit architecture advocacy group is championing women's contributions to American architecture and design. This week the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation (BWAF) launched Pioneering Women of American Architecture, a site that documents and disseminates women's contributions to American architecture from 1880 to 1980. In collaboration with a jury of architectural historians, the site's co-directors, Mary McLeod and Victoria Rosner, picked five dozen women for the initial launch, all of whom were born before 1940. Those practitioners, many of them still alive or only recently deceased, entered the field when it was even harder for women to practice, curate, and write about architecture. The time parameters exclude the Jeannie Gangs and Liz Dillers of the world, but highlight the often-forgotten work of their predecessors. These include people like architect and city planner Blanche Lemco van Ginkel, whose Montreal firm Van Ginkel Associates proposed an orange minibus (the Ginkelvan) for easier midtown Manhattan transit. A 1972 New York Times article on the bus described the motive behind the project: "Van Ginkel's study proposed a network of pedestrian streets in the midtown area closed to all traffic except for some form of public transport 'that would zip people in style, comfort and elegance the short distances they might not wish to walk.'" Familiar names like critic Ada Louise Huxtable, as well as designers like Florence Knoll Bassett and Ray Kaiser Eames, round out the list. The Pioneering Women project arose from the BWAF's mission to elevate women in architecture and AEC industries. For the online project, the team logged hundreds of hours digging through archives, conducting interviews, and fact-checking their work, and this is just the beginning. McLeod and Rosner hope to expand the compendium, with an eye towards enticing more young women to join the field. Right now, 24 of the 50 planned profiles are up online, and so far the profiles of white women vastly outnumber those of women of color. The site was designed by Los Angeles's Yay Brigade, and its funding comes from design firms, developer Forest City, private donations, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
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Gabriela Carrillo wins Architect of the Year Award; and Rozana Montiel awarded the Moira Gemmill Prize for Emerging Architecture

Mexican architects Gabriela Carrillo and Rozana Montiel have been given the Architect of the Year Award and Moira Gemmill Prize for Emerging Architecture, respectively, for 2017. Both competitions are run by the UK sister publications The Architectural Review and The Architects’ Journal. In a similar vein to RCR Arquitectes winning this year's Pritzker Prize, both women were commended for their local work.

Carrillo, co-founder of Taller Mauricio Rocha + Gabriela Carrillo, was noted for her design of the Criminal Courts for Oral trials in Pátzcuaro, Michoacán in Mexico. Here flexible spaces work in accordance with tight security and aid judicial transparency. Meanwhile, Montiel, founder of Rozana Montiel Estudio de Arquitectura, was praised for her work in local communities that has produced the Veracruz Cancha sports court, the San Pablo Xalpa Unidad Habitacional housing unit, and Tepoztlan House, all of which are in Mexico too.

As winner of the Moira Gemmill Prize for Emerging Architecture, Montiel will take home $12,200. The prize money was established to honor the late Moira Gemmill, former director of design at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. The money will be used to support Montiel's professional work. 

"All architecture is political. We can read in daily spaces the political priorities of our society," said Montiel in a press release. "Architecture has the power to shape civic behavior because, more than laying bricks, it lays the founding principles of public and social exchanges."

Christine Murray, founder of Women in Architecture and editor-in-chief of The Architectural Review and The Architects’ Journal commented: "The judges were impressed with Gabriela Carrillo’s ability to design flexible spaces, and work with light and shadow to such compelling effect. And they were inspired by Rozana Montiel’s sensitive and perceptive approach to community buildings."

The Women in Architecture Awards also revealed two other winners earlier this year. Denise Scott Brown won the 2017 Jane Drew Prize and the Ada Louise Huxtable award went to artist Rachel Whitebread.

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An exhibition that explores Maryland’s early women in architecture

The lobby of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in central Baltimore is a loud, busy space—double-high with hard marble surfaces, designed in 1930 in a Beaux Arts Greek Revival style. Curator and architect Jillian Storms is in the middle of this uncharacteristically noisy and crowded room, telling a story about Poldi Hirsch. “When looking for a town in Maryland to start her husband’s medical practice, they made a pit stop in Havre de Grace and heard they could use doctors. They thought the town quaint, a lovely place in which to raise a family.

Demand for the professional services of an architect was harder to find, much less so a woman who followed the tenants of modernism. So Hirsch ended up acting as her own developer, and eventually as her own contractor too. She was a pioneer in design-build, building her own house with space for both her husband and herself to practice. When I caught up with her kids, they told me that they had never fully understood what their mother had accomplished, they just knew that she was the only mom in town who was on the phone all day!”

Hirsch is one of a dozen women whose work and lives are sketched in a show curated by Storms. “We just ended up using all of their first names in the text,” Storms said about putting together the show with help from students at Morgan State University. “Otherwise, with name changes due to marriage and other reasons, it was getting too confusing.”

Names weren’t the only source of confusion that arose when Storms and her collaborators started their research. While looking for women in the AIA’s records in Maryland and Washington, D.C., they found no way to search by gender. Before 1970, there was no opportunity to check a box on the application form indicating whether you were a man or a woman because architects were so overwhelmingly male. Still, Storms and her team persisted, conducting their search one microfiche file at a time.

Today, only about 16 percent of the AIA’s membership is women, but thanks to initiatives like “The Missing 32% Project,” the AIA is trying to keep better track of them. That 32 percent is the rate at which women leave the profession, or don’t pursue licensure, after graduating from architecture schools where they make up about half of the student population. This percentage is, in part, the audience that Storms hopes this show might reach. Storms, who is on AIA Baltimore’s Women in Architecture / Diversity Committee, said the show is about asking, “How did the women who came before—who had even fewer role models or members of a support group—how did they do it?”

One theme that emerged was flexibility. Like Hirsch, many of the women included here founded their own firms so that they could manage family and practice with a greater degree of self determination than would have been available working for someone else. The home studio that Hirsch designed for herself is a standout in the show, making fluent, strikingly contemporary architecture out of the divisions and flow between work and life, spaces and solids.

Another thread was independence. Chloethiel Woodard Smith, FAIA, led a Washington, D.C.–based practice that was, at its peak in the 1960s, the largest woman-owned architecture firm in the nation. Former members of her staff remember her determination that her work would not be defined by her gender. “She would walk into a room full of male developers and put them in their place,” one former staffer told Storms. “I’m an Architect with a capital A,” Smith wrote to her school’s alumni publication in 1979. “Being a woman has nothing to do with it.” “She wouldn’t have wanted to be in this show,” Storms said, with a laugh.

It’s the resonances between moments like these and contemporary conversations that linger in the mind after visiting this collection of work and stories. Throughout her career, the late Zaha Hadid was continuously asked to address these same issues about the relationship between architecture, gender, and the disparities that exist within the profession. “I used to not like being called a woman architect. I’m an architect, not just a woman architect,” Hadid told CNN in 2012. “Guys used to tap me on the head and say, ‘You are O.K., for a girl.’ But I see the incredible amount of need from other women for reassurance that it could be done, so I don’t mind that at all.”

It is this tension between the existence of these early women of architecture as both individuals and role models that drives the show that Storms has put together. She is on a first name basis with the architects here, “I’ve visited most of their projects and I’ve gotten to know their kids.”

Back in the Pratt Library lobby (a space that in 1932 then-library president Joseph L. Wheeler said was designed to be “a building that women could wheel their baby carriages [into]”), Storms has an impromptu audience gathered around her as she wraps up her tour of the show. “I’ve found some of them through friends of friends on Facebook and LinkedIn. That’s how research goes in the 21st century.” This show is about “who came before and what they had to deal with,” but it’s also about “trying to understand these women as people.”

Early Women of Architecture in Maryland is on display at the AIA Maryland Gallery through June 26.

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Finally! The 2016 AIA Gold Medal goes to Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown

The AIA has named Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown the winners of the 2016 AIA Gold Medal. The honor, the AIA's highest, goes to architects whose work is likely to have a lasting influence on the practice of architecture, design, and related fields.

The Philadelphia-based architects’ most recognizable works include the 1964 Vanna Venturi House, in Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania; the Seattle Art Museum (1985); and the Provincial Capitol Building in Toulouse (1999).

In addition to buildings, they designed furniture, most notably the Chippendale chair, a postmodern take on the ornate Colonial furniture of Thomas Chippendale.

Scott Brown and Venturi co-authored Learning from Las Vegas: the Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form (1977) and Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (1966), two texts that analyzed postmodernity in architecture and the American landscape. The award, to be bestowed next year, comes on the 50th anniversary of the publishing of the latter text.

The couple works together on most projects. In 2013, the AIA revised its selection criteria to allow the award to be granted jointly, perhaps in response to the Pritzker Prize committee’s famous exclusion of Scott Brown, granting the prize to Venturi only in 1991. A 2013 petition initiated by students at the Harvard Graduate School of Design to retroactively honor Scott Brown (and signed by Venturi himself) was rejected by the committee.

Last year, the AIA granted the gold medal to Moshe Safdie. Venturi and Scott Brown's legacy will be set in stone: each gold medal winner has his or her name chiseled into the granite Wall of Honor at the AIA headquarters in Washington, D.C.

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Eavesdrop> Grrrl Power: Los Angeles has a ways to go for women’s equality in architecture

We live in a listicle age. Why write an article when you can clump a few names together and call it a trend? So when Los Angeles Magazine listed six women who have changed the face of Los Angeles architecture, which included one dead AIA Gold Medalist and two New Yorkers, it was bound to create outcry. Brava to the three local gals who made the cut, but let’s celebrate all the women of the L.A. architecture and design scene. When local schools put one lady on the lecture series and pat themselves on the back, we know more needs to be done for gender equity.
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Mind the Gender Gap: Findings of gender equity in architecture survey this Friday in New York

missing32-report-04 A number of advocacy organizations questioning the ethics of architecture practice in the United States have received a flurry of attention recently. The New York Times commented recently on the San Francisco–based Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility’s petition to revise the AIA’s stance on solitary confinement and torture. The New York–based Architecture Lobby made waves in 2014 with protests denouncing the continued prevalence of unpaid labor among architects. Before that, Harvard’s Women in Design provoked top figures in the field to take a stance on the failure of the industry’s awards to adequately acknowledge collaboration in 2013. missing32-report-02 That last issue, centered around a petition to retroactively award the Pritzker Prize to Denise Scott-Brown, is just one example of an action by one of several recently formed groups in the U.S. principally devoted to addressing architecture’s gender gap. In this new climate of restlessness, Rosa Sheng, founder and figurehead of The Missing 32% Project, has emerged as a particularly salient voice calling for gender equity in architecture at a pivotal moment for the profession. Founded as a committee of the San Francisco AIA in 2011, Sheng’s project has become exemplary in its reliance on data as a crucial tactic in the fight for equality. The name of the project is already a reminder of the estimated attrition rate of women architects from the workforce after relative gender parity in school. After rolling out studies and workshops locally within the Bay Area, The Missing 32% Project embarked on a campaign to “establish metrics and highlight best practices for achieving gender equity in architectural practice” through a nationwide survey of practicing architects, both male and female. On Friday, February 27, 2015 at the AIA’s Center for Architecture in New York, Sheng will present the early results of The Missing 32% Project's survey, and report lessons gleaned from a symposium she organized in the fall, aptly titled Equity by Design. Based on preliminary analysis, Sheng’s findings will highlight important distinctions in how male and female architects are hired and retained differently by employers, negotiate major life events, navigate career development, and perceive their own influence overall. Her talk will be followed by an open discussion, which will be a welcome opportunity to reflect on how efforts towards gender equity in architecture can be rolled out on a more unified national scale in 2015.
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Elizabeth Chu Richter inaugurated as 2015 AIA President

At a ceremony held in mid-December, Elizabeth Chu Richter was inaugurated as the 91st president of the AIA. Richter was born in Nanjing, China, grew up in Hong Kong and Dallas, and holds a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Texas. In 2007, she served as the president of the Texas Society of Architects and more recently represented Texas on the AIA’s National Board of Directors. Richter also heads the Corpus Christi-based architecture firm Richter Architects which won the 2011 Texas Society of Architects Firm Award. “As architects, we use our creativity to serve society—to make our communities better places to live," Richter said at the event. "Through our profession and our life’s work, each of us has shaped and reshaped the ever-changing narrative that is America in both humble and spectacular ways.”
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Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation Appoints James Hanley Director

The Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation (BWAF), a non-profit dedicated to "changing the culture of the building industry, for women, through education and research," just announced that after a national search it has chosen a new executive director: James T. Hanley, formerly the senior associate director of development at Barnard College. Hanley has undergraduate and advanced degrees in architecture along with an MBA and an MA in Art History and claims he will use his "skills in program development and financial management to broaden the role of the organization throughout the United States.” Beverly Willis, the founder of BWAF, said that Hanley is "keenly aware of the issues encountered by women in the design industry" which will "enable BWAF to build on its prior successes and help women achieve their professional and personal goals through our programs and outreach." Under Hanley’s leadership, the organization is launching a number of new initiatives in 2014. These include the exploration of a program for women as emerging leaders and the impact of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) as factors in success. Another new initiative is “Built by Women: New York City,” a focused collection within the Foundation’s Dynamic National Archive (DNA), which BWAF plans to use as a pilot for similar projects for cities around the country. Finally In 2014, it will complete its project entitled “Women of 20th-Century American Architecture,” to highlight the contributions of 50 outstanding women who significantly shaped the built environment in America.
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The Denise Scott Brown Effect: AIA Revises Criteria for Gold Medal Award

The AIA Gold Medal Award is the highest honor an architect can receive from the American Institute of Architects. Until now, the award could only be presented to individual architects, but the AIA has just announced that as of January 1, 2014 this prestigious award will be open to an individual or two individuals who have equally collaborated on the design and execution of one distinguished architectural body of work that makes a lasting statement on the theory and practice of architecture. The revision was prompted by the recent controversial campaign, led by a group of passionate young women architects, to retroactively confer the Pritzker Architecture Prize to Denise Scott Brown. Twenty-two years ago the architect was excluded from the award when it was granted to her husband and equal partner, Robert Venturi, in 1999. The Pritzker jury has refused to revisit it’s decision, denying Denise Scott Brown the award. In reference to the AIA's recent revisions to the criteria for the Gold Medal Award, AIA President, Mickey Jacob said in a press release, “This is an idea that has been percolating for several years and we feel that the decision to make this important and historic change better reflects the changing nature of architectural practice that has become increasingly more collaborative. We took a careful, measured approach to the implications that this decision will have on the award itself and we are confident that this is a positive change for the architecture profession going forward.” In the past the AIA Gold Medal has been bestowed upon world-renowned architects such as Louis Sullivan (1944), Frank Gehry (1999), Steven Holl (2012), and this year, to Thom Mayne. This year's Gold Medalist has been recognized for his outstanding designs for projects such as 41 Cooper Square in New York City, The San Francisco Federal Building, and the Giant Group Campus in Shanghai. So far, however, a woman has yet to receive the distinction.