For a very long time, when people spoke of architecture and architects in general, they mainly thought about the male part of the population. It's just now that people are beginning to talk about women architects.
There are several women architects who have given a great contribution to this field and changed the entire face of architecture as we know it. With that in mind, we're going to name some of the most important women in architecture who’ve made this immensely important profession what it is today.
Thanks to the efforts of the founders of Amici Productions LLC, Janice Stanton, and Alice Shure, there's a brand new documentary named Making Space.
The main goal of this documentary is to present a visual register so that the future generations of artists and professional architects can get clear evidence of how the architecture changed over time, but more importantly, how these changes affected the female population, as well as what those changes mean for modern architecture.
Stanton and Shure did about 30 interviews with various architects in order to select five of the best female candidates. They highlighted these five women as the rising stars in the world of architecture who all achieved incredible success.
Making Space is a documentary meant to celebrate these amazing women and show their everyday lives and the experiences they had to go through to become who they are today.
Stanton and Shire started a Kickstarter campaign to make sure their documentary comes to life and their project was a huge success. So, let's break down who these women are and how they've contributed to modern architecture.
Considered to be one of the most important female pioneers in the world of architecture, Anabelle Selldorf is a female architect from Germany. She founded the company Selldorf Architects in New York and her specialty is interior design and architecture.
Anabelle did numerous important projects, among which the most amazing are the renovation of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World and the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, as well as the Neu Galerie in New York.
She is one of those extraordinary women with such outstanding talent and passion for architecture and design and the best proof of her amazing work is that she was able to leave her mark in this male-dominated profession.
Lately, she's been dedicated to gender inequality problems and career challenges that women face in the world of architecture. Her impact on architecture is profound to say at least.
Another special lady in the world of modern architecture is most certainly Odile Decq. She made her name doing housing projects in Paris, but her real recognition came after she became a co-founder of the ODBC, one of the biggest French architecture firms.
She has won the A14 competition in Nanterre with her Motorway Bridge, but one of her biggest achievements is the Banque Populaire in Rennes.
She has been working alone since 1998 and she did a lot of amazing things. Her work on Rome's Contemporary Art Museum in 2001 where she designed an extension for the museum was an architectural masterpiece, but it was her effort on the Restaurant L'Opera at Opera Garnier in 2011, that really got her the recognition she deserved.
Odile is now teaching architecture at Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture.
Farshid was raised in England even though she was born in Iran. She is the director of her own company, Farshid Moussavi Architecture, and her specialty is landscape design, as well as projects that integrate urbanism and architecture. Farshid was also the co-principal and co-founder of Foreign Office Architects.
Together with her office, Farshid won the competition where she got the most amazing opportunity to build the Japanese International Terminal of Yokohama.
Her most recent work includes the Museum of Contemporary Art in Ohio, which was recently opened because of Farshid. On top of all that, she also works as a professor at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.
One of the most important persons in KPMB Architects where she's a founding partner, Marianne McKenna is mostly recognized for her efforts in creating the most unique architecture that begets community building and advances educational and cultural mandates.
Her main masterpiece is the Royal Conservatory TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning, with its most popular Koerner Hall. She won the award for this work, which inspired her to continue her architectural endeavors.
Her other acclaimed projects also include the:
● Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University
● Walker Arts Centre at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
● Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis
● Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto
● Le Quartier Concordia in Montreal for Concordia University
Marianne has quite an impressive portfolio, to say the least.
Kathryn Gustafson comes from Seattle, WA and is one of the most successful landscape architects in the world.
She is most recognized for her unique and extraordinary way of sculpting landscapes. Kathryn brought a lot of innovations to landscaping as a founding principal of Gustafson Porter in London and Gustafson Guthrie Nichol in Seattle.
While her work is mostly related to the civic realms, her focus is on gardens, parks, and cultural spaces.
Her most popular projects include the:
● Valencia Parque Central in Spain
● Rights of Men Square in Evry, France
● Bay East / Gardens by the Bay in Singapore
● Cultuurpark Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam
● National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC
● Robert and Arlene Kogod Courtyard at the Smithsonian American Art Museum
● Lurie Garden of Millennium Park in Chicago
With such an impressive background, Gustafson is one of the very few landscape architects to be honored with the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture, which is considered to be a very rare privilege.
Aside from this, Kathryn also received London’s Jane Drew Prize and Chrysler Design Award as well as the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for Landscape Architecture.
While the five women we mentioned play a crucial role in modern architecture, we can't but mention a few other important female architects who contributed to shaping the history of architecture.
The first person that deserves to be mentioned is most definitely Lina Bo Bardi. She was an Italian architect who strongly believed that emotions play an important part in architecture and she was also an impressive activist who was solely dedicated to working in Brazil.
Lina was mostly recognized for her human and modern architecture and she invested a lot of effort into saving one of the most important architectural masterpieces of today, the Pompéia Factory Leisure Centre.
The factory was marked for demolition but thanks to the efforts Lina made to defend the factory, she received an opportunity to preserve this historical monument by turning it into a real architectural masterpiece and thus, also contributing to the preservation of the culture of the area.
Her other most important projects are Solar do Unhão, a sugar mill that was turned into a craft museum, São Paulo Museum of Art, the “Casa de Vidro” a.k.a. the Glass House, and Teatro Oficina.
Coming from Santiago, Sophia Hayden Benett was one of the very first female architects in the entire world to receive a high recognition by getting an architecture degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT.
Sophia was mostly known for bringing innovations to her design with the most unique use of projecting skylights and pavilions, straight-forward massing, and Italian Renaissance detailing.
Because of all this, her designs were extremely and uniquely beautiful, which was the main reasons why she was recognized as one of the most important female architects in the world.
The most interesting things about Sophia is that her female colleagues didn't share her enthusiasm for being part of the competition, probably due to all the sexism that was going on at that time.
Even though it's true that the world of architecture is mostly dominated by the male population, there are still the most amazing women who have not only shaped the history of architecture but changed its face as we know it.
Their legacy entered history and they all will be remembered as the most powerful architects who’ve significantly contributed to making our environment better.
They have designed such amazing solutions that their work will be admired for centuries to come. Their legacy will serve as the best example for the future generations of modern women architects.