Unforgettable Female Architects

In the primarily male world of architecture, females’ roles are often overlooked. This is sad, but it is true, and it applies to a number of other male-dominated professions. This does not mean that they have contributed less, or that their contributions are any less valuable!

Even though the industry is still focused on the man, many women have pushed hard against the obstacles in their way to establish incredibly successful careers in architecture, and designed a number of iconic buildings.

In celebration of the female architect, here is a list of some of our favourites, some of the biggest trailblazers in the industry.

Louise Blanchard Bethune

Unforgettable Female Architects

Although some women were known to have planned designs for how they wanted their house to look, Bethune was the first American woman to have professionally worked as an architect. Born in 1856, she founded her own architecture company with her husband in 1881.

Her most famous design is the neo-classical Hotel Lafayette in Buffalo, which was commissioned for an incredible $1 million, and was once considered one of the finest hotels in the US.

She changed the profession for the better – she was the only female architect in 1881, yet by her death in 1913 there were more than fifty.

Denise Scott Brown

Unforgettable Female Architects

Most husband and wife partnerships in architecture end up with the man getting all the fame and glory. Not so in the case of Denise Scott Brown – she already had a distinguished career in the field of urban design before she met her partner, Robert Venturi.

Known as one of the most influential architects of the 20th Century, she led many major civic planning projects, and has gone on to teach generations of future architects through her writings and classes.

Sadly, she was overlooked for the 1991 Pritzker Prize – her husband won it instead; she refused to attend the ceremony.

Zaha Hadid

Unforgettable Female Architects

 Photograph: Dan Chung for the Guardian

An architect of Iraqi-British descent, Hadid was in 2004 the first woman to win the Pritzker Prize, and won the Stirling Prize in both 2010 and 2011 consecutively. Her designs tend to experiment with spatial concepts, and she has covered everything from urban spaces to furniture.

Her building projects are decidedly futuristic – just take a look at the Bridge Pavilion in Zaragoza or the Vitra fire station in Weil am Rhein for proof of this. She has ranked in the Forbes “100 Most Powerful Women” list, as well as in the New Statesman’s “World’s 50 Most Influential Figures”, and was awarded a DBE in 2012.

Maya Lin

Unforgettable Female Architects

Maya Lin studied at the prestigious Ivy League Yale University, and is well-known for her sculptures and landscape art. When she was just 21, still an undergrad at Yale, she won a public design competition, and her design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was commissioned.

This is still the work she is most renowned for, but she also designed the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama, and the Wave Field at the University of Michigan. She continues to work in architecture to this day.


Tags: Denise Scott Brown, Female Architects, Hotel Lafayette, Louise Blanchard Bethune, Maya Lin, Unforgettable Female Architects, zaha hadid

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