Anne Fougeron on Creating Good Urban Spaces and Being a Woman Architect

Anne Fougeron on Creating Good Urban Spaces and Being a Woman Architect - Image 2 of 2

The Midnight Charette is an explicit podcast about design, architecture, and the everyday. Hosted by architectural designers David Lee and Marina Bourderonnet, it features a variety of creative professionals in unscripted conversations that allow for thoughtful takes and personal discussions. A wide array of subjects are covered with honesty and humor: some episodes provide useful tips for designers, while others are project reviews, interviews, or explorations of everyday life and design. The Midnight Charette is also available on iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube.

This week David and Marina are joined by Anne Fougeron, award-winning architect and founder of Fougeron Architecture, to discuss her work, city densities, creating good urban spaces with architecture, women, and equality in architecture, design processes, partnering with other offices and more! This episode is part of a series produced with the support of the SF Urban Program, Architecture Department, Cal Poly. Enjoy!


Anne gives a presentation on cities, city density, and housing. (00:00)

  • The Bad & Embarrassing News: San Francisco’s housing shorting (00:00)
  • Healing urban scars and mixed use infill housing (04:30)
  • 400 Grove Condominiums: Knowing how to communicate with the planning department (10:00)
  • Transbay Block 9 with SOM: Relating a podium with a tower (19:30)
  • Transbay Block 8 with OMA: Working with OMA and creating an urban living room (26:50)
  • Questioning the negative assumptions of density (36:30)

Anne gives a presentation on being a woman architect. (38:18)

  • Identifying as a woman architect and the gender makeup of the profession of architecture (38:18)
  • Anne discusses how being a woman architect informs what she does (41:58)
  • The benefits of being a woman architect. (43:10)
  • Being a woman architect means being an activist (44:05)

Anne discusses starting her career as a woman. (46:50)

Anne shares the challenges that women still face today in the profession of architecture. (50:07)

Anne discusses her international identity has influenced her work. (57:35)

Anne discuses her interest in a range of buildings at small and large scales and being a successful at both. (59:50)

Working through urban issues and architectural ones within project and collaborating with OMA. (01:08:20)

Getting out of a rut during the design process. (01:12:20)

Learning from smaller scale work and then transitioning to larger scale projects. (01:15:50)

The importance of the site plan and understanding architecture as a way to make urban space. (01:18:20)

Projects Anne would like to do and a Cal Poly’s Architecture building. (01:23:22)

Anne answers the question, “How did you become successful?” (01:25:10)

  • “I know that a lot of people want to say that they're an architect first and a woman second, or a woman first and an architect second. I am a woman architect. There is no doubt to me that everything I have done in my career has been heavily influenced by being a woman, obviously, but also about the place of being a woman architect has put me in relationship to the field. So I don't want to shy away from it. [. . .] I think it's really important for people to understand, and for other women than younger students and people coming up in the field to understand what it means to be a woman architect.” (38:18)
  • “I think the field of architecture is still structured in such a way that it keeps the status quo. I think white economically privileged men are firmly in place. Now, I have nothing wrong with any of these guys. They're all great architects. I admire their work. But they just can't be the only ones that represent our society or represent this field. Because if we don't have a field that is as open as the society is, or as diverse as our society is, then we're not creating an architecture and environment that's as strong and as imaginative and as innovative as it could be. Because we're basically shutting out half of our population.” (39:38)
  • “I think being a woman architect means that you have to be an activist or it's made me an activist and I would encourage every other woman architects to become one because I still believe, and I do know that this is true for everything, that you only achieve equality if you fight for your own rights. You can't assume that anybody else is going to fight for your rights because it just doesn't dawn on them and it's not their fight. You might bring them around and they might come and rally, but really in essence, it's up to all us women to really ask for what we want and what we should have. And same thing for African American and shake things thing for all the rest.” (44:10)
  • “The thing that's important about having a really good urban plan, it means that you have a really good site plan and if you have a really good site plan… I think that's an enormous part of doing a really good building. Because you lose, I think in architecture, when all you're doing is you're just trying to paginate a building. And I say this in the office all the time when we start just kind of like applying windows, scattering on facades, and we're not being very good at it. I’ll say, “Okay, we're thinking about this problem the long way.” Because it's not just pattern making.” (01:09:25) 
  • “If you make a building that makes really good urban space, then chances are it's going to be a really good building. Not always the case, not always. But I think if you bring the same level of creativity to making really good urban space, then I think you have a chance of also bringing the same level of creativity to make a really good urban building or a good building in general. [. . .] You have to understand that in the end, once you’ve built in a city, what's left is the spaces that you've created because most people can’t go inside your condo project and they don't live there either, so what you have left is how you've created an environment where people who live in the building and people who don't live in the building can interact and how the building can become an incredible part of the urban context.” (01:19:17)

About this author
Cite: The Second Studio Podcast. "Anne Fougeron on Creating Good Urban Spaces and Being a Woman Architect" 11 Jul 2020. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

You've started following your first account!

Did you know?

You'll now receive updates based on what you follow! Personalize your stream and start following your favorite authors, offices and users.