Women Architects have always played a significant role in shaping, contributing & improvising the built environment of their nations. For as long as one can recall, the field of Architecture has always been male-dominated. However, this field has been transforming over recent years as more and more architectural offices & construction companies have committed to building incredibly diverse workforces. It’s essential to have professionals of both genders within a team to have multiple perspectives leading to numerous creative solutions, representation of various communities and balanced team dynamics. However, the best part of an architectural creation is that its best planned by a birth giver, a lady. 

United States

In the context of the United States, American Women Architects have pioneered using new materials & construction techniques. Whilst designing iconic buildings & making their mark via architecture, they have continuously advocated for social justice & equity, contributing invaluably to the field of architecture & built environment. This essay briefly dwells on the impact of architectural styles & contributions by a few notable American Women Architects who have established themselves and made their mark within the field of the built environment.

Marion Mahony Griffin 

Being one of the world’s first licensed American Women Architects, Marion Mahony Griffin is well-known for implementing her ideals of the Prairie School style of architecture within indigenous landscapes of the new democracy. During her formative years, she was intrigued by the vividly changing landscapes in the village of Winnetka , with more & more suburban residences transforming the urban fabric of her region. Inspired by her cousin Dwight Perkins, she pursued architectural education at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

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Marion Mahony Griffin_©https://www.classicist.org/articles/marion-mahony-griffin/

Post-graduation, in 1895, she became the first employee hired by Frank Lloyd Wright. She collaborated with him in building & furniture design, decorative panels & stained-glass windows for 15 years, contributing immensely to his reputation. Her enthralling watercolour architectural renders were always connected to Wright’s style. Following that for the remainder of her career, she worked alongside her husband, Walter Burley Griffin, on various projects in America, India and Australia. Some of their notable works include Rock Crest-Rock Glen, the Building of Canberra city, the University of Lucknow library, etc.

During her lifetime, her creations & contributions were only viewed as an extension of works by her male partners. Over a century later, she would be known as “The Greatest Architectural Delineator of her generation” as renowned architectural writer Reyner Banham concurred.

Prairie School Architectural Style 

‘Prairie School’ is a style of architecture developed around the early 20th century, characterised by horizontal lines, flat & hipped roofs, landscape integration & ornamentation, overhanging eaves & craftsmanship complementing America’s indigenous native Prairie landscapes embracing Louis Sullivan’s architectural theories. Architects who pioneered this architectural style, notably Frank Lloyd Wright, Marion Mahony Griffin, Walter Griffin, etc., blended principles of the Arts & Crafts movement and natural environment. 

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Prairie Style Residence_©https://meqasa.com/blog/exploring-the-prairie-house-style/

Norma Sklarek

Norma Merrick Sklarek was an American Architect who was pivotal in contributing to the built environment in the United States of America & accelerated the professional advancement of women & minority communities in Architecture. Born in New York City, she acquired her undergraduate degree from Columbia University in 1958 as the first African-American woman to do so in history. She kick-started her career at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and was a part of some notable projects, such as Lever House & United Nations Secretariat Building. She moved to California two years later and joined Gruen Associates. She eventually became the firm’s first female director and African-American woman to be licensed as an architect in the state. She later co-founded “Siegel Sklarek Diamond”, the largest female-owned architecture firm in the United States. Throughout her career, Sklarek was a strong advocate for increasing diversity in the architecture profession, mentoring young architects and encouraging firms to hire more & more women and minorities.

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Norma Sklarek_©https://blackhistory.news.columbia.edu/people/norma-sklarek

Modernist & sustainable architectural style

Sklarek’s architectural style was characterised by her ability to combine functionality, aesthetics, and sustainability in her designs. Her work primarily focused on commercial and institutional buildings, emphasising creating welcoming and accessible spaces that serve the needs of the communities they serve.

Sklarek’s designs often featured sleek, modernist lines and bold, geometric shapes. She was known for her. 

Attention to detail, particularly in using materials, textures, and colours. Sklarek’s designs also incorporated sustainable features such as energy-efficient systems, natural ventilation, and daylighting.

One of Sklarek’s most notable projects, Terminal 1 at Los Angeles International Airport, features a modernist design with a soaring, curved roof and expansive glass walls that provide natural light and views of the surrounding landscape

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Terminal 1 at Los Angeles International Airport by Norma Merrick Sklarek, William Pereira, Charles Luckman and Paul Williams_©https://architectuul.com/architecture/terminal-one

Maya Lin

Well-known for Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C, Maya Lin is an American architect from Athens, Ohio. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in architecture from Yale University and since then established herself as one of the leading architects of America, focusing on creating spaces engaging in history, culture, and the natural environment that are in harmony with their surroundings. Her notable works include the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama, the Women’s Table at Yale University, and the Museum for Chinese in America in New York City.

Lin’s architectural style is characterised by a minimalist aesthetic and a focus on creating spaces. Her designs often feature clean lines, simple forms, and natural materials and are intended to evoke a sense of tranquillity and contemplation. She is also known for using sustainable materials and energy-efficient systems in her designs.

In addition to her work as an architect, Lin is an accomplished artist, working in various media, including sculpture, installations, and drawing. Her artwork often explores themes of nature, memory, and cultural identity and is characterised by a poetic and introspective sensibility.

Overall, Maya Lin is a highly influential figure in architecture and art. She is known for her innovative, thought-provoking designs. Her commitment to sustainability, the environment, her engagement with issues of history, and her cultural identity is acclaimed worldwide.

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Maya Lin_©https://www.smith.edu/about-smith/news/maya-lin–shepley-bulfinch-to-redesign-neilson

Minimalistic Architecture

Characterised by a minimalist aesthetic that emphasises clean lines and simple forms and focuses on materials and their relationship to the natural environment, Maya Lin’s architectural designs often incorporate elements of nature, such as water, earth, and vegetation. They are intended to evoke a sense of tranquillity and contemplation. She often uses natural materials such as stone, wood, and water, which are used to create serene and meditative spaces. She is also known for using sustainable materials with energy-efficient systems in her designs.

One of Lin’s most notable architectural designs is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C., which features a polished black granite wall inscribed with the names of over 58,000 Americans who died in the Vietnam War. The memorial’s minimalist design and integration into the natural landscape have made it a powerful and deeply moving tribute to those martyred in the war. Other notable works include the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama, which features a circular fountain and inscriptions commemorating those who died during the civil rights movement, and the Museum for Chinese in America in New York City, which incorporates elements of Chinese design and culture into a contemporary architectural form.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C_©https://fineartamerica.com/featured/vietnam-veterans-memorial-at-sunset-pixabay.html

Jeanne Gang

Jeanne Gang is an American architect and founder of Studio Gang, a Chicago-based architecture and urbanism practice. She is known for her innovative designs integrating complex social, ecological, and technological systems into the built environment. The gang’s architectural style was focused on context, sustainability, and community engagement. Her designs often feature biomorphic shapes and a fusion of materials that reflect and respond to the surrounding environment. She is also known for using cutting-edge technology and sustainable design principles to create energy efficient and resiliently adaptable buildings.

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Jeanne Gang_©https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jeanne_Gang.jpg#/media/File:Jeanne_Gang.jpg

Biomorphic, Sustainable & Community-engaging Architecture

One of Gang’s most notable designs is Aqua Tower in Chicago, a high-rise residential building with undulating balconies that create a wavelike effect across the façade. The building’s biomorphic form is not only visually striking but also serves to maximise natural daylight and reduce energy consumption. Another of Gang’s notable designs is the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership at Kalamazoo College in Michigan, which features a circular design that encourages collaboration and dialogue. The building’s sustainable features include geothermal heating and cooling, a green roof, and a rainwater collection system.

The gang has also worked on several large-scale urban planning projects, including revitalising the Chicago Riverfront and creating a master plan for the National Aquarium in Baltimore. In these projects, she emphasises the importance of community engagement and sustainable design principles to create functional and aesthetically pleasing spaces that serve the surrounding community’s needs and the natural environment.

Gang’s designs often feature dynamic, sculptural forms that respond to the unique qualities of their site and context. She also strongly emphasises creating spaces that promote social interaction and community engagement, with an eye toward fostering connections between people and their environment. Overall, Gang’s work is marked by a commitment to creating architecture that is not only beautiful and functional but also sustainable, socially responsible, and responsive to the needs of the people who inhabit it.

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Aqua Tower, Chicago_©https://www.archdaily.com/42694/aqua-tower-studio-gang-architects/5012004e28ba0d55810000e2-aqua-tower-studio-gang-architects-photo?next_project=no

Essentiality of empowering more Women Architects

Irrespective of region, it’s important to equip & encourage more Women Architects as it’s crucial in promoting more inclusion and diversity, addressing the disparity between genders, encouraging more innovative & creative sustainable solutions and fostering economic growth for a creative & technical profession such as that of Architecture, wherein its crucial to render services and build infrastructure with the needs of current societies, new perspectives and diverse solutions are always encouraged. Empowering more Women Architects could address the disparity of genders, promote entrepreneurship & create more jobs, and advance sustainability in architecture by providing practical, environmentally conscious solutions. 


Marion Mahony griffin (2023) Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marion_Mahony_Griffin (Accessed: March 19, 2023). 

Norma Merrick Sklarek (2023) Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norma_Merrick_Sklarek (Accessed: March 19, 2023). 

Maya Lin (2023) Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_Lin (Accessed: March 19, 2023). 

Jeanne Gang (2023) Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeanne_Gang (Accessed: March 19, 2023). 

Prairie style (no date) Architecture & Design Dictionary | Chicago Architecture Center. Available at: https://www.architecture.org/learn/resources/architecture-dictionary/entry/prairie-style/ (Accessed: March 19, 2023). 


An aspiring architect and avid bibliophile, Suchita keeps looking out for fresher and innovative sustainable solutions for co-existence with precarious environment and fauna. She has a keen interest in digital technology and is currently exploring writing as a means to express & think beyond the box in architecture & urbanism.