At the 2016 AIA Convention, architects reviewed recent numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 39 percent of aspiring architects are women; 25.3 percent in the profession of architecture are women; 17 percent of principals and partners in AIA firms are women. In the age of embracing diversity in workplaces, architecture has long been seeking ways to break down barriers. Even despite lower numbers, female architects have made comparable impact as their male peers.
In celebration of Womens History Month, the Museum is discussing how barriers have changed over the years during our upcoming panel Architects Across Generations on March 7.
Can you name your five favorite women in architecture? Here’s a list of five we’ve enjoyed working with recently.
“Gender equity is not simply about recognizing women or retaining their talent but about building a better environment for everyone. If we incorporate the ideas of the many over the visions of the few, we will create, in my opinion, a much more equitable and humanistic environment for everyone.”
American architect and Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA), Beverly Willis played a key role in developing architectural practices influencing American city design. Her work includes the San Francisco Ballet Building in San Francisco and the Manhattan Village Academy in New York City. She co-founded the National Building Museum in 1980 and founded the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation, a non-profit organization working to change the culture for women in the built environment. Willis’ awards include the 2015 New York Construction Award for public service and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Professional Women in Construction.
“We have to think how can [technology] be designed as all inclusive or designed so that people that people will not have to wonder about it — they just simply understand. That is from a designer’s perspective. Technology is a success when it’s accessible to everyone. It’s always a process of design and creation.”
Paola Moya is the CEO and Principal of Marshall Moya Design, directing the Design team and leads the firm’s strategic planning. Before partnering with Michael Marshall, she worked for six years at Georgetown Design Group in Washington, D.C. where she was responsible for several design-build projects. Moya was born in Bogota, Colombia and has a Colombian architecture license. She shares her diverse experience through delivering inspiring keynote speeches and lectures, introducing architectural solutions to support humanitarian efforts for Internally Displaced People (IDP), and volunteering on a local level as a guest critic and mentor.
“What I’m interested in with tall buildings is how you use the outdoor space, like balconies, to create community within the building. in Chicago, there are also requirements for affordable housing within the tower, so it’s not just one section of people who are in the same socio-economic class — it is mixed.”
MacArthur Fellow Jeanne Gang leads Studio Gang Architects, an architecture and urbanism practice based in Chicago and New York. Her projects include exhibitions for the Art Institute of Chicago, Design Miami at Art Basel Miami Beach, and the Chicago Architecture Biennial. Gang was also awarded for projects including the Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo and Aqua Tower in Chicago. Her firm is designing the National Building Museum’s newest summer installation.
“We define ourselves by the impact that our work has on communities as much as the aesthetic or functional value it possesses. In the future, I hope to have an opportunity to work with my own local community on designing public spaces and responding to the issues of affordable housing.”
Founder and principal of Sharon Davis Design, Sharon Davis is an award-winning practitioner whose work is driven by her belief in the transformative power of design. A LEED-accredited professional, she establishing a collaborative design practice dedicated to human-centered environments in 2007. Davis received the Women for Women Active Citizen’s Award in 2010 and the Lucille Smyser Lowenfish Memorial Prize from Columbia University in 2006. She has worked on architectural projects ranging in scope from residential interiors to commercial ground-up construction and international institutional development.
“I’m always interested in the challenges of somebody who sees one of our landscapes 600 times a year. How do we engage them on a daily level or a seasonal level? There’s that kind of notion of engagement—how do we celebrate seasonal interests from summer mist fountains, to winter ice skating rinks?”
An international landscape architect with work throughout the United States, the Middle East, and South Korea, Mikyoung Kim’s work focuses on the healing properties of landscape architecture. As design director of Mikyoung Kim Design, Kim designed award winning public spaces that merge sculptural experience with sustainable landscape strategies, including the Source Point Park in Seoul, Korea, the Crown Sky Garden in Chicago, and the roof garden for the John Hancock Tower in Boston. In 2015 Architectural Digest named Mikyoung Kim as one of the years AD Innovators. Her firm Mikyoung Kim Design has received awards from the American Society of Landscape Architects and the American Institute of Architects.
Have another favorite female architect? Tweet your favorite using #5womenarchitects.