In the world of architecture, the role of women is often overlooked. Nevertheless, many women have overcome obstacles, established highly successful architecture careers, and designed landmark buildings. Check out the lives and works of these trailblazers.
Photo by Takashi Okamoto, Courtesy of SANAA
Japanese architect Kazuyo Sejima launched a Tokyo-based firm that designed award-winning buildings around the world. She and her partner, Ryue Nishizawa, share the 2010 Pritzker Architecture Prize.
Zaha Hadid, Press Photo by Steve Double
Born in Baghdad, Iraq in 1950, Zaha Hadid is the first woman to win a Pritzker Architecture Prize. Her work experiments with new spatial concepts and encompasses all fields of design, ranging from urban spaces to products and furniture.
Maya Lin. Ohio University Press Image
Trained as an artist and an architect, Maya Lin is best known for her large, minimalist sculptures and monuments. When she was only 21 and still a student, Lin created the winning design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC.
Frank Lloyd Wright's first employee was a woman, and she became the world's first woman to be officially licensed as an architect. Like many other women who design buildings, Wright's employee was lost in the shadow of her male associates. Nevertheless, Marion Mahony Griffin contributed greatly to Wright's career and also to the career of her husband, Walter Burley Griffin.
Julia Morgan was the first woman to study architecture at the prestigious Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and the first woman to work as a professional architect in California. During her 45-year career, Julia Morgan designed more than 700 homes, churches, office buildings, hospitals, stores, and educational buildings, including the famous Hearst Castle.
Eileen Gray's contributions were overlooked for many years, but she is now considered one of the most influential designers of modern times. Many Art Deco and Bauhaus architects and designers found inspiration in Eileen Gray's furniture and house designs.
Over the past century, there have been many husband-wife teams. Typically the husbands have attracted the fame and glory while the women worked quietly (and some would argue, intelligently) in the background. However, Denise Scott Brown had already made important contributions to the field of urban design when she met and married her husband, Robert Venturi. Although he appears to be more frequently in the spotlight, her research and teachings have shaped modern understanding of the relationship between design and society.
Norma Sklarek's long career marked many firsts. In both New York State and California, she was the first Black woman to become a registered architect. She was also the first black woman honored by Fellowship in AIA. Through her life's work and her many important projects, she became a model for rising young architects.
Anne Griswold Tyng, scholar of geometric design, began her architectural career collaborating with Louis I. Kahn in mid-twentieth century Philadelphia.
Susana Torre describes herself as a feminist. Through her teaching, writing, and architectural practice, she works to improve the status of women in architecture.
Anna Keichline was the first woman to become a registered architect of Pennsylvania, but she is best known for inventing the hollow, fireproof "K Brick," which was a precursor to the modern concrete block.
Many women designed plans for houses, but Louise Blanchard Bethune is thought to be the first woman in the USA to work professionally as an architect. She apprenticed in Buffalo, New York, and then opened her own practice and ran a flourishing business with her husband.