This article was originally published on CommonEdge as "Women in Architecture Need a New Set of Role Models—Beyond the Star System"
Women In Architecture: The Latest Architecture and News
This article is an updated version of its original post on March 15th, 2016.
"In the ongoing debate about women in the architecture profession, you rarely hear an argument for why equal representation is important; it's generally assumed to be an unquestionable moral imperative. However, in this article originally published on the Huffington Post as "Why Women's Leadership Is Essential for Architects," Lance Hosey argues that, regardless of your position on equality as a moral imperative, better representation of women in architecture could benefit everyone in the profession—in very tangible ways.
Today, on International Women's Day (March 8) we want to share again the American Institute of Architects (AIA) publication "Diversity in the Profession of Architecture," its first diversity report in a decade. The release follows the creation in December 2015 of the AIA's "Equity in Architecture Commission," a panel of twenty architects, educators, and diversity experts to investigate diversity and inclusion in the profession. The new report documents a survey of over 7,300 professional architects and students, including men and women, 79% of them whites and 21% people of color.
Since its founding in 1851, The New York Times has published thousands of obituaries listing the lives and legacies of some of the world’s most influential people. However, by their own admission, the listings have historically been dominated by white men. In order to address this, The Times launched its “Overlooked” series in 2018, telling the stories of women such as Sylvia Plath and Emma Gatewood.
In advance of International Women’s Day, The Times has published an obituary by Alexandra Lange detailing the life and legacy of Julia Morgan, the first woman to earn an architect’s license in California, and “a prolific designer of hundreds of buildings, namely the Hearst Castle at San Simeon."
In the 12 months since 2018 International Women’s Day, we have seen many female architects come to fore of the design discourse. From Shelley McNamara and Yvonne Farrell’s curation of the 2018 Venice Biennale to Frida Escobedo's celebrated design for the Serpentine Pavilion, the architectural newsfeeds from the past twelve months have played host to many signs of change in a traditionally male-dominated profession.
ArchDaily has also been busy over the past year, publishing stories such as twelve prominent women in architectural photography, seven influential women of the Bauhaus, and the women redefining success in architecture. Beyond news and editorials, the honorary lists and award ceremonies of prominent architectural institutions from around the world have also paid tribute to some of the world’s leading and emerging female architects.
For this year's Women in Architecture Awards, The Architectural Review and the Architects’ Journal have selected Sheila O’Donnell as Architect of the Year and Xu Tiantian to win the Moira Gemill Prize for Emerging Architecture in the 2019 Women in Architecture awards. The Architect of the Year award recognizes excellence in design specifically in the context of a recently completed project and the Moira Gemmill Prize for Emerging Architecture is awarded to women designers under the age of 45 who show design excellence indicative of a bright future.
As users of ArchDaily demonstrate certain affinities and greater interest in particular subjects, these topics emerged as trends. Gender Equality is one of the trends that will influence urban and architectural discussion in 2019.
In many parts of the world, more women have architectural degrees than men. However, this fact hasn’t translated past university into the working world as women continue to be underrepresented across nearly all levels of practice.
The conversation regarding women in architecture gained tremendous traction back in 2013 with the petition for Denise Scott Brown to be recognized as the 1991 Pritzker Prize winner, alongside her husband and the consequent rejection of that request by Pritzker. The Architectural Review and Architect's Journal have, since 2015, jointly presented awards to the exceptional female practitioners as part of their Women in Architecture Awards program. The swelling of these movements have helped to promote not only the role but also the recognition of women in architecture.
We’ve already talked about this. You’re preparing your final project (or thesis project). You’ve gone over everything in your head a thousand times; the presentation to the panel, your project, your model, your memory, your words. You go ahead with it, but think you'll be lousy. Then you think just the opposite, you will be successful and it will all be worth it. Then everything repeats itself and you want to call it quits. You don’t know when this roller coaster is going to end.
Until the day arrives. You present your project. Explain your ideas. The committee asks you questions. You answer. You realize you know more than you thought you did and that none of the scenarios you imaged over the past year got even close to what really happened in the exam. The committee whisper amongst themselves. The presentation ends and they ask you to leave for a while. Outside you wait an eternity, the minutes crawling slowly. Come in, please. The commission recites a brief introduction and you can’t tell whether you were right or wrong. The commission gets to the point.
You passed! Congratulations, you are now their new colleague and they all congratulate you on your achievement. The joy washes over you despite the fatigue that you’ve dragging around with you. The adrenaline stops pumping. You spend weeks or months taking a much-deserved break. You begin to wonder: Now what?
The university, the institution that molded you into a professional (perhaps even more so than you would have liked), hands you the diploma and now you face the job market for the first time (that is if you haven’t worked before). Before leaving and defining your own markers for personal success (success is no longer measured with grades or academic evaluations), we share 9 lessons to face the world now that you're an architect.
Architect Liz Diller and architectural photographer Hélène Binet have been awarded the 2019 Jane Drew and Ada Louise Huxtable Prizes, respectively, for their exceptional contributions to the field of architecture. The prizes are part of the eighth edition of the Women in Architecture Awards founded jointly by The Architect's Journal and The Architectural Review.
A room of one’s own: Feminist questions about architecture
A room and money of her own – these are two prerequisites for a woman’s self-fulfilment, so wrote Virginia Woolf almost 90 years ago. Despite this, Estonian architectural culture still seems to be completely unaware of the fact that space can also be a feminist issue. Yet feminism provides a methodology and approach that allows us to raise a wide range of questions and to see the history of Estonian architecture in the 20th century as well as contemporary practices and ways of using space in a completely different light. That
Italian-born architect Lina Bo Bardi is one of the most important figures of Brazilian design. Her ability to blend architecture, politics and popular culture made her an icon throughout the country and world, while her relentlessness to break from traditionalisms made Brazil the ideal location for her work.
Bo Bardi's architecture incorporates both materiality and culture. In addition to the concrete and solidified elements, she designed pieces based on cultural factors and intense political discussions. She wished to break the barriers between intellectuals and everyday people.
Whether it be the overly-dainty posture of scale model figures or the assumptions of being the in-house decorator, the portrayal of women in architecture is often one of subservience. Despite Despina Stratigakos' hands-on efforts behind Architect Barbie or the global impacts of the legacy of starchitect Zaha Hadid, there continues to be a lack of visibility of women in the profession.
In a recent article in the New York Times, writer Allison Arieff poses the echoed question that the architectural community keeps asking itself, "Where are all the female architects?" No longer an issue of uneven gender ratios in architectural schooling, the persistence of dwindling numbers of women principals at the top of firms simply does not resonate. She postulates, that perhaps more significant than the statistics, the real problem lies in the definition of success.
Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, Albers, Klee, and Breuer are all names that bring to mind the exceptional artistic talent of the Bauhaus school. But an exceptional yet lesser-known aspect of the Bauhaus is that the early 20th-century experimental German art school was one of the first educational institutions that would openly accept qualified women into the program.
Once entered into the program, women were not exactly treated as equals to their male peers, but in 1919 the acceptance of these passionate women was the beginning of a wave of modern female artisans who made significant, yet not as recognized contributions to the Bauhaus movement. An introduction to seven of these women can be found below:
There’s something irresistible about Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown’s architectural romance. They met when they were both young professors at the University of Pennsylvania; Scott Brown held seminars in city planning, and Venturi gave lectures in architectural theory. As the story goes, Scott Brown argued in her first faculty meeting that Frank Furness’ masterful Venetian gothic library should not be torn down to build a plaza (then a dissenting opinion). Venturi approached her after the meeting, offering his support. As Paul Goldberger wrote of the couple in 1971, “as their esthetic viewpoints grew closer and closer, so did their feelings toward each other.” Architecture lovers can’t help but love the architect-lovers.
There's an old, weary tune that people sing to caution against being an architect: the long years of academic training, the studio work that takes away from sleep, and the small job market in which too many people are vying for the same positions. When you finally get going, the work is trying as well. Many spend months or even years working on the computer and doing models before seeing any of the designs become concrete. If you're talking about the grind, architects know this well enough from their training, and this time of ceaseless endeavor in the workplace only adds to that despair.
Which is why more and more architects are branching out. Better hours, more interesting opportunities, and a chance to do more than just build models. Furthermore, the skills you learn as an architect, such as being sensitive to space, and being able to grasp the cultural and societal demands of a place, can be put to use in rather interesting ways. Here, 3 editors at ArchDaily talk about being an architect, why they stopped designing buildings, and what they do in their work now.
"Where are the women architects?" Despina Stratigakos, an architectural historian and professor, lamented in her book about women in the practice. (She even titled her book that very question.) The sentiment was certainly a resounding one, well-understood by many women who have worked in the profession and had to break through a male citadel. We know the number of women in architecture is small, and it gets smaller the higher up we look.
Which is why we wanted to recognize the women who are at the top, leading practices, and paving the way. To celebrate International Women's Day this month, we launched an open call to recognize women who run their own firms all around the world. And if their projects had never been published by us before, we were going to give them the spotlight.
What we found were an incredible group of women who impressed us with their designs, their work ethic, and their dedication towards the profession. Not only do these women design and build, but they lead teams, manage offices, and eventually took the leap to be their own bosses and do things their own way.
Last week, ArchDaily covered a story about the gender pay gap at Foster + Partners. We thought such a story was "unsurprising" given that the gender pay gap is something that is widely reported on, and present in almost every industry, and we wanted to share a case of it happening in an architectural firm many of us are familiar with. What we did not expect was that readers would think it is a non-issue, or that such reporting was sensational. Is it possible for us to talk about gender in the workplace without being up in arms? Why does the gender pay gap issue make people uncomfortable?
Some of our editors discussed how gender plays into their workplace experiences as well as some hopeful recent signs that we are on a path to change.
The history of Mexican photography has contributed to highlighting Mexico's presence in the world. Photographers like Elsa Medina, Lola Álvarez Bravo, Graciela Iturbide, Maya Goded, and Juan Rulfo have masterfully portrayed the life of the buildings, houses and the streets of a rapidly built, nineteenth-century Mexico.
As a consequence, the contemporary scene of Mexican photography has become a fundamental tool for architecture and has contributed to a better visual understanding of the works that are erected every day.
Photography and architecture are two disciplines that go hand in hand and whose relationship has been reinforced thanks to the digital tools that we currently have. For that reason, we have compiled the work of contemporary Mexican photographers who record our walk through the world we live in and contribute to constructing the image of contemporary Mexico.