To celebrate International Women's Day, we asked the Brazilian non-profit group Arquitetas Invisíveis to share with us a part of their work, which identifies women in architecture and urbanism. They kindly shared with us a list of 48 important women architects, divided into seven categories: pioneers, "in the shadows," architecture, landscape architecture, social architecture, urbanism and sustainable architecture. We will be sharing this list over the course of the week.
Yesterday we brought you The Pioneers, and today we present the women architects that have lived in "the shadows" of the some of the great names in the architecture world.
In the Shadows
Unfortunately, many talented female architects suffered from the negative consequences of the misogynistic social structure in which they worked. Even when they completed brilliant and important work, women rarely received the credit for their accomplishments. Oftentimes the legacy of their work was pushed to the back due to the ascension of their colleagues, as was the case for Aino Aalto, Eileen Gray, Ray Eames and Charlotte Perriad. Others, like Lily Reich, suffered from the consequences of political upheaval. Marion Mahony Griffin, for example, collaborated with Frank Lloyd Wright (although she wasn’t recognized), and she was a great designer and illustrator of the Prairie style, in addition to carrying out a project for the city of Canberra in Australia. The best known case, however, is Denise Scott Brown, whose work was blatantly ignored while her husband received the Pritzker Prize alone for work that was notoriously collaborative.
Finnish architect born in 1894. In 1932 Aino beat Alvar Aalto -- her life and professional companion -- in a design competition with her famous “Aalto Glasses,” which also won the gold medal at the Milan Triennale. She died in 1949 at the age of 55.
French architect born in 1903. She died in 1999 at the age of 96. After studying furniture design in Paris, Perriand applied for a job at Le Corbusier’s office in 1927. She was rejected with a note saying: “We do not embroider cushions here.” However, when she was invited to show her restoration of an apartment at the Salon d’Automne, Le Corbusier noticed her work and was so impressed he offered her a job. A year after entering his office, Perriand designed three of the most iconic chairs: the B301, B306 and the LC2 Grand Comfort, adding a little human character to the rational work of the architect.
Born in Zambia in 1931, Denise Scott Brown later became a citizen of the United States. She, along with Robert Venturi and Steven Izenour, wrote the book “Learning From Las Vegas: the Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form.” It was controversial when her husband won the Pritzker Prize in 1991, with the jury ignoring the partnership between the two and only honoring Venturi. She did not attend the award ceramony, but her husband declared at the event that architecture is the most collaborative of the arts.
Irish architect born in 1878. In 1937 she was invited by Le Corbusier to participate in the design of his pavilion for the Paris Exposition, with a design for an event center. At the outbreak of World War II, Gray was forced to leave Paris, taking refuge in London and Ireland. After the war she returned to Paris where she resumed designing furniture, but remained forgotten among architects and designers who were on the rise. When she died in 1976, her death was announced on the French radio. It was the first time that her name had been mentioned on a radio transmission.
German architect born in 1885. She started her career as a stylist, the only profession in the design field that was acceptable for women to be a part of at the time. In 1920, she as the first woman director of the Werkund company. There she met Mies van der Rohe, whom she worked with for 13 years. She collaborated on many famous projects attributed to the architect, including the Barcelona Pavilion, yet she only received recognition for their partnership many years after her death. In 1930, she joined the Bauhaus along with Mies, becoming the first woman to be a teacher at the school. She was responsible for saving more than 4,000 drawings and documents from Mies’ desk, which was later bombed during World War II. She died in 1947 at the age of 62.
MARION MAHONY GRIFFIN
North American architect born in 1871. In addition to an architect she was an horticulturist, graphic designer, painter and political activist. She was the second woman to graduate in architecture from MIT and the first to be registered as an architect in the state of Illinois. She worked with Frank Lloyd Wright and contributed immensely to the dissemination of the Prairie school style, designing homes of this style not only in the US, where the movement was born, but also in India and Australia. She died in 1961 at the age of 90.
American architect born in 1912. She co-founded, along with her husband Charles Eames, the Eames Office Design. From the 1970s and onward, Ray made her contribution to the practice more well known -- virtually all of the projects were co-designed by the couple. She died in 1988 at the age of 76.
Stay tuned during the week as we present the architects of the remaining categories.