Women in Architecture – Pioneers and Visionaries

Women architects have long made noteworthy contributions in an industry largely dominated by men. Their stories provide motivation and guidance to young architects.

Sklarek was inspired to learn about Beverly Loraine Greene and Louise Harris Brown – two Black women licensed as architects – through research for an 8th-grade project. She has an intense commitment to increasing the percentage of Black women working as architects.

Julia Morgan

Julia Morgan was a pioneer and visionary architect, first licensed to practice architecture in California as a woman and one of the most prolific architects of her time. Over nearly fifty years, her prolific designs included private residences, women’s clubs, grand hotels, churches, banks schools and commercial centers – among others.

After graduating from UC Berkeley in 1890, Morgan decided to ignore her mother’s advice to enter high society instead of making an impressionful debut in high society. Instead she began taking civil engineering lectures from Bernard Maybeck who later mentored her; eventually, this inspired her to attend Parisian architecture school Ecole des Beaux-Arts where her dreams came true.

After being denied admission on three separate occasions, Morgan took advice from Grand Prix de Rome winner Francois-Benjamin Chaussemiche and successfully passed the ecole’s entrance exam in October 1898. Her career flourished rapidly following the 1906 earthquake as her clientele rapidly increased.

Kazuyo Sejima

Kazuyo Sejima, an innovative Japanese architect, is widely admired for her avant-garde designs which push the limits of what is possible. For her groundbreaking designs she was recognized with many prestigious awards and honors such as sharing the Pritzker Prize (with partner Ryue Nishizawa) and being awarded this year’s Jane Drew Prize by UK architectural journals The Architectural Review and Architects’ Journal.

After graduating from Japan Women’s University with a degree in architecture, Sejima apprenticed with Toyo Ito before opening her own firm. Together with Nishizawa she founded SANAA in 1995; together they have received numerous accolades, such as winning the 2004 Venice Biennale Golden Lion Award for designing the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan.

Sejima’s style is reminiscent of modernist architects like Ito and fellow Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto; however, her focus on social use and adaptability distinguishes her from other contemporary designers. Furthermore, Sejima believes in including large windows into her buildings to facilitate visual connectivity between indoor and outdoor spaces.

Nasrine Seraji

Nasrine Seraji is a French architect practicing worldwide. Since founding Atelier Seraji Architectes and Associates she has completed various projects, such as creating a Temporary American Center in Paris, several collective housing projects, a school in Lille and museum in L’Aisne. Additionally she has taught architecture at Architectural Association London, Columbia University New York and Princeton University amongst other schools in the US.

She is an Honorary Member of the Royal Institute of British Architects and was awarded Chevalier and Officier de l’Ordre National du Merite as well as Membership in l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France. Additionally, she has lectured and exhibited her work across Europe, North America, China and Southeast Asia.

Gabrielle Bullock is an architect and leader at Perkins+Will, where she oversees their Diversity, Inclusion and Engagementprogram to ensure all members of their design team feel welcome and valued. Gabrielle has an avid interest in inclusive design’s power to transform lives and communities.

Roberta Washington

Roberta Washington founded her firm as one of the first African-American woman-owned architectural firms in 1983. Since then, her practice has designed and managed dozens of new housing projects, health facilities, educational facilities, museums and cultural venues throughout the U.S.

Susana Torre is an author, critic, and curator whose work explores women in architecture profession and collective memory in public space. Her essays can be found in Heresies: A Feminist Journal on Art and Politics.

Gabrielle Bullock is a Design Principal at Perkins+Will, overseeing their Diversity, Inclusion, and Engagement program. Her passion lies in using her unique skillset to promote equality in the workplace; she has lectured worldwide and won multiple awards for her efforts. Additionally, Gabrielle and her husband live together in an authentic CIA safe house on Lake Ontario with their beloved golden-doodle.