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.
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.
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 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”.
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 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 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.
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 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 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.
Sample Personal Statement for Architecture
People once asked me: “Why did you choose architecture?” I couldn’t give a simple answer for that. Maybe it was because I like painting and construction since childhood. I also earnestly yearn to create beautiful things on my own and architecture can satisfy my imagination in space, materials, and color. My born interest in this sector is also because of my parents, who are both structural engineer and electrical engineer, influencing me gradually and unconsciously since I was a kid and giving me perceptual knowledge in the field. After my five-year study in the Department of Architecture, and one-year work experience in architectural design, I ask myself this same question. The result is that aside from the factors mentioned above, what really makes me choose architecture is its intrinsic appeal, which is just like the maxim written inside the building of the Department of Architecture: “Architecture is the combination of art and technology.”
Perhaps when a person is engaged in what his keen interest blossoms, he will never feel tired, instead he would feel motivated and have an enriching experience. Five years' academic study in the School of Architecture and Arts of University of XX transformed my instinctive excitement and imagination about architecture into systematic knowledge and comprehensive understanding. This transformation, first of all, lies in my skills in the fine arts. Differing from my previous mere interest in fine arts, the study of architecture makes me begin to ponder on how to draw using aesthetic elements from fine arts such as color, lighting and composition to apply to architecture. I was so dedicated to such brainstorming and imagination that I would always work around the clock in the studio for days on end. Secondly, the study of basic architectural courses, such as architectural structure, mechanics and materials science, makes me realize that architecture not only gives importance on aesthetics, but also on the more essential functionality and practicality. In that process, I realized that architecture is not only an art, but also more importantly a sort of technology. Five years of college study gives me a deeper comprehension of architecture, that is, architecture is also part of other cultures - it is subject to other cultures' influence, and at the same time it influences other cultures.
Because of my childhood architectural background, coupled with my lasting keen interest in architecture, I gained excellent achievements in the major courses of my college study, ranked top three in the class, and also received first prize scholarships and many other scholarships for five consecutive years. Besides, owing to my understanding of architecture, I am not satisfied with mere textbook knowledge. I believe architecture is not only a skill but also, more importantly, a combination of creativity and imagination. An excellent architecture designer needs not only solid architectural skills and knowledge, but also needs nourishment from fine arts, materials science, engineering and culture. For that purpose, I read quite extensively, understood the architectural history of different countries - especially European architectural history, learnt from works of modern and contemporary architectural masterpieces, and gained insights on their design conceptions that are full of creativity and connotation. The knowledge I have gained from these efforts heightens my interests and my desire for creation.
I had the opportunity to put to practice this desire for creation during the last stage of my college study. During the second semester of my fourth year, I interned with XX for half a year where I participated in the environmental design of the XX astronomical station and the conceptual design of the Phoenix Residential Complex in XX. These experiences gave me insights into the relationship between a building's space and its functionality, as well as architectural design's feasibility, which is an important factor to consider when designing.
After graduating in 2002, I worked with an excellent architectural design institute, engaging in architectural design. In the meantime, I participated in the conceptual design and design drafts of the janitor’s room, the main machine hall of XX Company Ltd. I was also responsible for the design of the drafts of the multi-purpose hall in XX , XX and the renovation design of the XX Archives of the XX. Because of my prominent achievements, I was quickly promoted as an exception from draftsmen to designer, and I later got the assistant engineer certificate in a short period of time.
The design experiences from these projects made me very interested in creatively applying materials in projects. Meanwhile, I also continuously learned new ideas in architecture from different countries, and especially saw a lot of design drawings of overseas architectural masters. All these experiences have a great impact on me, sparking my intention of studying abroad to learn more in-depth contemporary international architectural conceptions. I especially aspire to get to know in more detail modern western architectural history in the hopes of forming my own architectural conceptions.
Besides this, another intense desire of mine is to comprehensively learn the relationship between architecture and culture, and through the study of western architecture, to determine China's own architectural style. China once boasted of a developed ancient architecture, while its modern architecture loses the characteristics of its indigenous culture, a great deal of architecture lingers merely on the stage of rough and superficial imitation of western architecture. I hope to form a sort of architectural design conception with characteristics of China's traditional culture after extensively absorbing modern architectural theories and technologies. That is what I yearn to do and also what I believe I can make.