Posts tagged with "Women in Architecture":
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.
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.
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.