To shatter the glass ceiling and emerge victoriously, women in architecture still face many challenges in their path. Even in the 21st century, it seems that architecture is a male-dominated profession. With a minority representation in the top positions like CEO’s, COO’s, it is shocking to see that only three of the top 100 firms in architecture are headed by women. Even in history, when one recollects the celebrity architects or discusses common household names in architecture, no women in architecture are at the forefront. Even the Pritzker Award, the Nobel equivalent in the field of architecture has had only three female awardees over the years- Zaha Hadid, Kazuyo Sejima, and Carme Pigem. But that does not take away from the fact that women have made astonishing contributions in the field of architecture, whether single-handedly or in partnership firms, women have led to some major breakthroughs in the field of architecture. Some Women Architects with astonishing contributions are:
A partner in the firm, Diller+Scofido, and Renfro; of which she is a founding partner; is an American Women Architect credited with an illustrious portfolio of projects like The Broad, The Shed, The High Line Park in Manhattan, etc. She is the only architect named in Times Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2018, she was included for her masterful ability to “turn a metaphor into brick and mortar.” With an affinity for blurring the boundaries between art and architecture, with projects like The Shed- which create spaces to engage the public with the building envelope and The High Line- which has redefined the approach to designing public spaces with its elevated green walkway, Diller has constantly pushed the boundaries with her will to create distinctive and impactful spaces.
Denise Scott Brown
An architect, writer, planner, and principal at the firm Venturi, Scott Brown, and Associates whose works and contributions are often overshadowed due to her association with Robert Venturi, is a visionary in her own right. She has worked on numerous projects in collaboration with Venturi and also worked in various fields from city planning, furniture design, and theory. Poorly acknowledged and underappreciated throughout her career, Denise’s contributions include architectural writings like ‘Learning from Las Vegas’ which focuses on the car-centric urban planning scheme of the city of Las Vegas. The book forms the basis of understanding of the style of post-modernism. The Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery in London illustrates her whimsical approach to architecture which borrows and distorts classical elements from the existing museum structure. Her eclectic approach to design and her ideologies, their manifestations in her writings and designs show that Denise was way ahead of her time.
A Japanese architect who was awarded the Pritzker Award in 2010 in collaboration with her partner, RyueNishizawa. She received her architecture degree from Japan Women’s University and began working with Toyo Ito after graduation. In 1992, she was named the Japan Institute of Architects’ Young Architect of the Year. Her design philosophy aims to create spaces for social uses and have a potential for adaptation, her works include 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa; a museum of contemporary art located in Kanazawa, Ishikawa, Japan, The Rolex Learning Centre, The Louvre Lens. The jury citation from their award read, “For architecture that is simultaneously delicate and powerful, precise and fluid, ingenious but not overly or overtly clever; for the creation of buildings that successfully interact with their contexts and the activities they contain, creating a sense of fullness and experiential richness; for a singular architectural language that springs from a collaborative process that is both unique and inspirational; for their notable completed buildings and the promise of new projects together, Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa are the recipients of the 2010 Pritzker Architecture Prize.”
Mexican Women Architect who was tasked with designing the Serpentine Pavilion for the year 2018 is the youngest and the second solo-female to win the commission. With a focus on renovations of existing buildings and the use of humble materials, her designs seek to create thoughtful and engaging spaces. A defining project in her career, the amphitheater-like installation, Museo El Eco in Mexico City with movable concrete blocks. She is a young visionary whose approach to architecture is a planned and well-implemented strategy that extends well beyond the form. She often creates experimental spaces that shape user experiences based on their interpretations. Her ideology is to create more value in spaces and believes that in the current context, more often than not architects seek value in the monetary aspect of architecture.
An immigrant from Lebanon, Amale Andraos, the dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture in New York is the founding partner of the firm, WORKac based in New York. The firm is currently working on the Beirut Museum of Art, which is designed as an “open museum” with hybrid indoor-outdoor spaces where artworks are displayed diversely engaging with the public. She has numerous publications like 49 cities, The Arab City: Architecture and Representation (Columbia Books on Architecture and the City, 2016). The firm has achieved international acclaim for projects like the master plan for the New Holland Island Cultural Centre in St. Petersburg, Russia, the Blaffer Museum in Houston, Texas, and the Edible Schoolyards at P.S. 216 in Gravesend.