10 Talented Women Architects

10 Talented Women Architects

Sarah Coffey
Sep 1, 2010

I'm all for celebrating the contributions of great architects, male or female, but when I was working on a residential architecture roundup the other day, it became painfully obvious that the guys far outweighed the girls when it came to coverage on our sites. It makes sense — architecture remains a male-dominated profession, even today.

A 2009 AIA survey showed that women make up about a quarter of the architecture profession, but over 30 percent of that quarter are unlicensed. In the world of "starchitects," the numbers shrink significantly — only 2 women have ever received the Pritzker Prize in its 31-year history: Zaha Hadid in 2004 and Kazuyo Sejima, who shared the prize with her male partner Ryue Nishizawa in 2010.

So, to give female architects a long overdue shout-out, here's a starter list of 10 that deserve recognition. Add your favorites in the comments below.

  1. Zaha Hadid: This British-Iraqi architect is probably the most famous female working in her field today. She's known for using complex technologies to create fluid, curvilinear forms. Well-known projects include the MAXXI: National Museum of 21st Century Art in Rome, BMW Central Building in Leipzig, and Phaeno Science Center in Wolfsburg.
  2. Kazuyo Sejima: This year's Pritzker Prize winner, Kazuyo Sejima, is one half of Japanese firm Sanaa Architecture. She creates subtle, minimal buildings with a strong focus on museums and educational centers.
  3. Eileen Gray: Irish architect and designer Eileen Gray was a key contributor to the modernist movement. Her adjustable-height side table is an icon of 1920s design, and her later career produced a small but beautiful collection of homes. She was overshadowed by Le Corbusier and her male counterparts during her career, but she re-emerged in the 1970s when Domus magazine published a retrospective of her career and Aram put some of her best furniture designs back into production.
  4. Maya Lin: Best known as the designer of the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial in Washington, DC, Maya Lin is an American architect and artist whose work is minimal, but engages the user (or viewer) in quiet ways. For instance, the names of fallen soldiers are inscribed on the DC memorial in small type, so that viewers are encouraged to get up close and experience the monument in an intimate, personal way.
  5. Jeanne Gang: This Chicago-based architect has produced a number of critically acclaimed small projects (many of which Apartment Therapy has profiled) but it's her recent green skyscraper, Aqua, that's earned her international attention.
  6. Michelle Kaufmann: This California-based green prefab home designer started out working for Frank Gehry, then set out on her own. Unfortunately, she closed up shop last year, but maintains an active site where you can read her blog posts and commentaries. You can see a tour of her own home here, and the Smart Home she designed for the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry here.

  7. Rocio Romero: This Missouri-based designer is well known for her minimalist prefab homes, which arrive flat-packed and can go up in a few months' time. Apartment Therapy toured one of her LVL homes — see the photos here.
  8. Zoka Zola: This Chicago-based architect owns her own firm and has created a number of award-winning homes, including a zero-energy house. Apartment Therapy toured her personal home and studio way back in 2006.
  9. Winka Dubbeldam: She's the principal of New York-based Archi-Tectonics, where she's been designing commercial and residential projects since 1994. Dubbeldam is well-known for her contemporary loft renovations, and her work has been exhibited at MOMA and the Venice Biennale.
  10. Yen Ha and Michi Yanagishita: Yen and Michi are the principals behind Front Studio, one of the only Asian-women owned architectural partnerships in New York City. Fun fact — Michi served as a judge for Apartment Therapy's Small Cool Home Contest in 2008.

RELATED: 10 for the Bookshelf: Women In Design

Photos: (1) Jason Schmidt used under Free Art License via Wikimedia Commons, (2) Wiiii used under GNU Free Documentation License via Wikimedia Commons, (3) Public Domain via Metropolis, (4) Maya Lin, (5) Michelle Kaufmann, (6) Studio Gang, (7) Tracy Roloff, (8) Janel Laban, (9) Archi-Tectonics, (10) Front Studio

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