5 Female Architects Who Shaped the History of Architecture
I had to write about those wonderful architects, who happen to be women, to showcase their legacy. as powerful humans who made great contributions to our built environment.
1. Lina Bo Bardi. (1914-1992)
An Impressive Activist, an emotional Italian architect. Graduated from Rome college, had the ability to please the inhabitants. Devoted most of her working life in Brazil.
Known for her modern but human architecture, she stood against the demolition of a factory in Brazil and turned into an architecture masterpiece ‘Centro de Lazer Fábrica da Pompéia’ (Pompéia Factory Leisure Centre), that served the culture of the area.
“linear time is a western invention; time is not linear, its a marvelous tangle where at any moment, points can be selected and solutions invented without beginning or ending” says Lina Bo Barodi.
One of her ‘inventions’, is the Teatro Oficina where she created a variable space of re purposed materials that dissolved the distinction between actor and audience.
She also Designed; the “Casa de Vidro” the glass house, São Paulo Museum of Art, Solar do Unhão sugar mill converted to a craft museum.
2. Sophia Hayden Benett. (1868-1953)
An american architect from santiago, First to receive architecture degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology ‘MIT’ among women.
Known for her beautiful designs, which features an Italian Renaissance detailing, straight-forward massing, and the use of projecting pavilions and skylights.
While her women colleagues refused to become part of this competition; due to the awarded price which was tenth of the amount that their men colleagues earned. Regardless of the sexism thoughts she entered the competition and won first place.
Construction was not an easy process and much pressure for the 21 year old woman at that time. Though her frustration eventually was pointed to as typifying women’s unfitness for supervising construction, the building received an award for “Delicacy or style, artistic taste, and geniality and elegance of the interior”.
3. Marion Mahony Griffin. (1871-1961)
An artist, one of the first licensed female architects in the world. An american architect graduated from MIT university in USA. Considered an original member of the Prairie School.
Described by the writer Reyner Banham as the “greatest architectural delineator of her generation”, she was unfortunately the first employee of Frank Lloyd Wright; her renders and illustrations became anonymous as was wright’s typical behavior, he credited her for neither.
She declined wright’s offer to undertake his studio upon his elope, but accepted wright’s successor offer under her condition of full control of designs.
She considered Wright’s habit of taking credit for the Prairie movement explained its early death. Married to Walter Burley Griffin, together they won the commission to design the new Australian capital Canberra.
4. Eileen Gray. (1878-1976)
A modernist, furniture designer, an Irish architect. Studied lacquer work in Soho, she perfected her skills and was soon commissioned by wealthy clients to create interior designs.
“To create, one must first question everything” says Gray. She created beautiful designs with blurred lines using lacquer merging architecture with furniture.
One of her famous ‘creations’ is the E-1027, a house she designed in south France for herself and her Lover Jean Badovici who was friends with the Swiss born-French Modernist architect of that time Le Corbusier.
While staying as a guest in the house in 1938 and 1939, Le Corbusier became obsessed with the house. He painted bright murals on its plain white walls, and sometimes painted in the nude. Whether this intrusion onto her design was an admiration or an act of jealousy, it surely infuriated Gray, who considered the murals outright vandalism.
5. Norma Merrick Sklarek. (1928-2012)
A great project architect, first of her ethnicity to be a member of the American Institue of Architecture ‘AIA’ among her female colleagues. An African american female architect graduated from Columbia University.
While everything seemed to work against her, “They weren’t hiring women or African Americans, and I didn’t know which it was [working against me]” she said, but sure she was a woman of first. First African-American woman to be elected a fellow of the AIA and first to earn a license.
A strong architect with ambitious vision; she started working for Gruen Associates, where in couple of years she became director of the firm. Leaving that firm she co-founded Sklarek, Siegel and Diamond, the biggest female only firm in the country.
She was well known for her excellent executions & projects construction. where she had the quality that you surely can’t call many architect by even in this time; completing huge constructions on time and under budget such as LAX Terminal one, the US embassy in Tokyo and the Fox Plaza in San Francisco.
By Yosra Abdel-Rahman