Since time immemorial, women have been an integral part of architecture with earliest documents leading from Katherine Briconnet from France who was influential in designing, supervising and taking important architectural decisions of the Chateau de Chenonceau when her husband was away fighting in the Italian Wars, to Lady Elizabeth Wilbraham who was the architect of Wotton House in Buckinghamshire and much other building, she has often dubbed as the UK’s first female architect. Even though Architecture has been documented for the past many centuries, it only became organized as a profession in 1857 and it took till the end of the 19th century, starting in Finland, certain schools of architecture to issue admittance to women to their programs. 1980, was a turning point when Italian born M. Rosario Piomelli became the first woman to hold a deanship of any school of architecture in the United States, i.e., Dean of City College of New York School of Architecture.

1. Marion Mahony Griffin

Marion was one of the world’s earliest licensed female architects and the first employee hired by Frank Lloyd Wright. Her role was integral in Wright’s Prairie School designs and contributed substantially to his studio’s residential work but didn’t receive much recognition from Wright.

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2. Aino Aalto

Together with her husband, Alvar Aalto has designed various projects ranging from residences, furniture, glassware, and lighting fixtures. They are famous as one of the pioneers of the modernism movement.

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Villa Mairea in Noormarkku, Finland©

3. Ray Eames

Modernism was defined for Americans by Ray and her husband Charles Eames. The duo is widely regarded for its iconic furniture and building designs.

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La Chaise ©

4. Eileen Gray

Widely renowned for her furniture designs, Gray was also an architect and her most famous being her French Riviera home, E1027 and as an advocate of minimalism and modernism, her work went unnoticed in her time.

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Eileen Gray©
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E- 1027 Villa©

5. Charlotte Perriand

Perriand is famous for her partnership with modern architecture Icon, Le Corbusier, and has contributed to the development of functional living spaces, especially by designing interiors and furniture for his buildings.

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Les Arcs 1600 Ski Resort, France ©

6. Lilly Reich

Reich was a close aide of Mies Van der Rohe and contributed to his projects in Germany. She was appointed as the director of finishing/build the Bauhaus school. During the war, Van der Rohe left for America in 1937, and Reich was responsible for saving a lot of his drawings from bombing.

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Café Samt&Seide, Berlin©

7. Denise Scott Brown

Brown along with her partner, Robert Venturi was a driving force in the architectural design movement of her times but concordant to the prevailing gender discrimination of women architect, she was not credited when Venturi was awarded the Pritzker prize in 1991.

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Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery, London©

8. Norma Merrick Sklarek

A trailblazer of her time, Sklaerk was the first major African- American woman architect. Her best-known projects include Terminal One at the Los Angeles International Airport and the Pacific Design Center.

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LAX Terminal 1©

9. Lina Lo Bardi

An activist and an Emotional Italian architect, Lo Bardi was a revelation from the prevailing design trends of her time. While everyone was going for functional inanimate structures, her approach was completely socialist and use of repurposed materials.

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ArtMuseumBrazil, SaoPaulo, 1968©

10. Zaha Hadid

Probably the most popular and loved architect, Dame Zaha Hadid was the first woman recipient of the Pritzker Prize. Her eccentric and futuristic designs have catapulted the public’s interest in architecture and idolized by many, Hadid is an example of a star who outshines even in the field which is predominantly dominated by males.

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Even though the statistics on women’s place in architecture are dated, one could deduce that while the number of architecture students through the ages vary from 35-45% but relatively only around 15-20% of the licensed architectures are women. But things have been progressing and women are widely getting recognized and credited for their work in this male-dominated profession and with the latest Pritzker jury announcing the first female duo to be awarded the prestigious award, i.e., Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, it is evident of the progression.


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