Heroines of Architecture

There are some very impressive female architects alive today. They come from all over the world, and make our buildings gob-smackingly cool. Here are just a few of the many that deserve space on this page.

Rocio Romero

A pioneer on the trail of affordable and sustainable housing, Rocio Romero is a Chilean-American architect. She is best known for her minimalist prefab homes, which arrive flat-packed and can be constructed in as little time as one month.

Dwell Magazine called Romero’s “LV” homes “the perfect $100,000 house,” which must be true because there are now more than 300 of them across the world (mostly the U.S., France, Chile, and Canada).

Romero’s work, which also includes a line of home accessories and furniture, has been featured in a number of publications and museum exhibitions, including the Walker Art Center, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the Triennale di Milano and the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Zeynep Fadillioglu

Zaynep Fadillioglu is a Turkish architect who began a career in computer science only to eventually realize she loved architecture. Her initial success came as a designer of restaurants. In fact, Fadillioglu has designed over 20 establishments that can still be found in such cities as London, New Delhi, and Abu Dhabi.

Fadillioglu is best known as the first woman to design a mosque. Fadillioglu received international acclaim when she unveiled the Sakirin Mosque in Turkey in 2009.

Fadillioglu made sure that the mosque honored women by ensuring that both the men’s and women’s upper galleries were equal in terms of both size and beauty.

Over the course of her career, Fadillioglu has been awarded a number of honors, including the House & Garden International Interior Designer of the Year (2002), the Andrew Martin International Designer of the Year Award (2002), Modern Designer of the Year Award (2005), and The Wifts Foundation International Visionary Award (2011).

Victoria Meyers

Victoria Meyers is a founding partner of the firm Hanrahan Meyers and she has led the design of a number of award-winning projects including the Won Buddhist Retreat, Infinity Chapel, White Space, and the Digital Water i-Pavilion. Meyers is especially well known for her residential projects, urban master plans, and her public buildings.

She has received a number of awards over the years, including an American Institute of Architects award for her Buddhist Retreat. She was named one of Buildblog’s “Women Making an Impact.” Meyers is also the author of the popular architectural text “Designing With Light”.

Itsuko Hasegawa

After receiving her degree in architecture from Kanto Gakuin University, Japanese architect Itsuko Hasegawa was invited to take the prestigious position of assistant to Kazuo Shinohara at the Tokyo Institute of Technology.

In 1979, Hasegawa formed her own firm, Itsuko Hasegawa Atelier. She has since been responsible for the design of a number of award-winning buildings in Japan. Her most famous projects include the Sumida Culture Factory, the Niigata City Performing Arts Centre, and the Himi Seaside Botanical Garden.

Hasegawa is an honorary member of the Royal Institute of British Architects, and in 1986, she was awarded the Design Prize from the Architectural Institute of Japan. She has also been the recipient of the Avon Arts Award and in 2000 she received the Japan Art Academy Award.

Yasmeen Lari

Yasmeen Lari was the first accredited female architect in Pakistan. At age 15, Lari left Pakistan during a family vacation in London, and ended up enrolling in school there. She was initially rejected from architecture school for not being able to draw. However, after two years of art classes, she was accepted into the Oxford School of Architecture.

At the age of 23, Lari returned home and opened Lari Associates in Karachi, Pakistan. Though she initially faced challenges because of her gender, she soon became president of the Institute of Architects in Pakistan in 1980.

Her most notable projects have all been in her native country. They include Naval Officers Housing, the Taj Mahal Hotel in Karachi, the Finance and Trade Center, and the Pakistan State Oil House. In 2011, Lari received the Pakistani “Wonder Woman of the Year Award.”

Brinda Somaya

Brinda Somaya is a well-known Indian architect who´s philosophy is that “the Architect’s role is that of guardian – her´s is the conscience of the built and un-built environment”.

This belief has underlined her three decade-long career, which has included work on large corporate campuses, public spaces, the rehabilitation of an earthquake-torn village, and the restoration of an 18th century Cathedral, among much more.

With degrees from Mumbai University and Smith College, Somaya began her career in 1978, and has worked independently and at her own firm since the beginning of her career.

Her most notable works are all located in India and include the Birla Institute of Technology and Sciences, the Nalanda International School, the Goa Institute of Management and the restorations of Mumbai’s St. Thomas Cathedral and the village of Bhadli. In 2014, Somaya was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Indian Institute of Architects for her contribution to the profession.

Róisín Heneghan

Roisin Heneghan is one-half of the powerhouse firm Heneghan Peng Architects (AKA hparc). Heneghan established hparc in 2009. The same year she won three major commissions: the Arabsat headquarters in Saudi Arabia, two new buildings for University of Greenwich and a bridge over the Rhine between St. Goar and Goarshausen in Germany.

Since then, Heneghan has designed footbridges at the London Olympic park, the Aras Chill Dara in Ireland, and the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre in Northern Ireland, the last two of which earned her a RIBA European Award and a spot on the Stirling Prize shortlist, respectively.

Maya Lin

Maya Lin is best known as the designer of the haunting Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. Since then, this daughter of Chinese immigrants has designed a number of other notable structures, including the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama, and the Wave Field at the University of Michigan. She has also exhibited several other design projects across the world.

Throughout her career, Lin has won several awards and honors for her work, one of the most recent being the National Medal of Arts awarded by the President of the USA. In 2013, Lin completed her largest work to date, “A Fold in the Field”. It is part of a sculpture park in Auckland, New Zealand.

Kazuyo Sejima

Kazuyo Sejima is a Japanese architect known for her clean and modern designs. Her career began in 1981, when she graduated from Japan Women’s University with a Master’s degree. After short stints with two other firms, Sejima established SANAA with colleague Ryue Nishizawa.

SANAA’s work is characterized by clean and modern elements, and often include large windows, glass, cubes and marble. Over the course of her career, she has designed several projects throughout Japan, the USA, and Europe, including the New Museum in New York and the Glass Pavilion for the Toledo Museum of Art in Spain. Sejima has received more than twenty-two prestigious awards throughout her career, including the 2010 Pritzker Architecture Prize.

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Help With Your Statement in Architecture

There are two principal challenges in Architecture today that stand at the forefront of academic concerns: sustainability, on the one hand, and environmental friendliness on the other. Over the last 15 years, I have had the privilege of helping dozens of architects from around the world to be accepted to graduate studies in architecture, most at the Masters level. I especially remember the statements that I worked on for Koreans and Saudi Arabians as well as Europeans and Latin Americans. An architect from Dubai was special, given the accomplishments of that city. For each one, sustainability and environmental friendliest stood at the forefront of the themes that we worked through the statement, each in the context, of course, of that applicants’ particular career context and trajectory.

The opportunity to help an Iranian man with an application to Berkeley will forever stay with me, due to his experience in Bam as a volunteer, within 24 hours of one of the most devastating earthquakes in Iran’s history. It is a special honor for me to help you; together, we are building tomorrow by helping you to get accepted, based on an eloquent explanation of your long term plans concerning your contribution to humanity in the field of architecture. After you fill out my Online Interview Form, I will ask you some specific questions by email if I need any further information. Please also send your resume/CV and or rough draft if you have one.

In a rapidly growing urban world, slums and informal settlements provide shelter for a sixth of the planet’s population and unless effective action is taken they are likely to become the most common form of dwelling on earth by 2030. Parallel to this lies another inconvenient truth that architecture as a profession is affecting no more than 5% of what is built every year around the world. I feel strongly that Architecture as a profession needs to re-assume its political content and broaden its field of action, or to eventually accept, as a discipline, its irrelevancy in facing new and inevitable urban challenges.