Women in the practice of architecture are on a roll.
First came the consciousness-raising, if not-quite-successful, 2013 petition to the Pritzker Prize Committee on behalf of Denise Scott-Brown.
Next: the 2014 AIA Gold Medal awarded posthumously to Julia Morgan, the gifted early 20th-century architect of Hearst Castle in San Simeon, Calif.
Now come the winners in the Built by Women competition, sponsored by the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation in New York.
Union Carbide Corporation Headquarters, Manhattan, NY, designed by Natalie de Blois, Senior Design Architect, SOM. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Union Carbide
"We've been very fortunate with timing -- there's a momentum now, and a lot of people behind it," says Nancy Nguyen, associate director at the foundation.
The numbers speak volumes. Out of 350 entries from five boroughs in New York City, 100 were named winners this week. They range from a transportation hub to a police training academy to parks and engineering projects.
Zerega Avenue EMS Station, Bronx, NY, designed by Laurie Hawkinson, Partner, Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects. Landscape Architect: SCAPE Landscape Architecture. Photo Credit: Michael Moran.
"There was one that was nominated twice," says Carol Shapiro, director of the foundation. "It was Gravesend, and it was founded in 1643 by Lady Deborah Moody."
This was a competition that looked beyond design to the functional impact of what a project does for the audience occupying its space. Entries covered the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, engineering, and construction. In a number of cases, the projects were multi-disciplinary.
Hunter's Point Campus, Long Island City, Queens, designed by Sylvia Smith, Senior Partner, FXFOWLE and Ann Rolland, Project Director, FXFOWLE. Photo Credit: ©David Sundberg/Esto
"It's such an innovative field, so we wanted to celebrate the amazing women involved," Shapiro says. "We're trying to show that the field is incredibly collaborative."
In the process, they're also raising awareness about the impact of women on the built environment -- to those already practicing, and to generations to come. And the competition is just the first step.
"There will be educational materials and panel discussions and walking tours," Nguyen says. "We're planning on putting all the nominations on a map and highlighting the winners."
Exterior of Common Ground Community, Schermerhorn House, Brooklyn, NY, designed by Susan T. Rodriguez, Partner, Ennead. Photo Credit: ©David Sundberg/Esto for Ennead Architects
The rest of the nation is already on their radar screens. "It's a template to be rolled out across the country," Shapiro says. "Other cities are interested -- over time, we'll see a map of U.S. sites, designed by women."
Certainly, the inventory is out there; it's an appreciation for it that seems in short supply.
But that, too, could change, if this foundation has its way.
To see all the winners, go here
J. Michael Welton writes about architecture, art and design for national and international publications. He also edits and publishes a digital design magazine at www.architectsandartisans.com, where portions of this post first appeared.