Female architects that have made an impact on the world

Men often get most of the credit for architecture projects, but that does not mean that women have not had some interest in it or have done anything noteworthy in the field. The purpose of this article is to shed some light on them.

Zaha Hadid

Zaha Hadid (1950-2016)

She became known as a deconstructivist architect. A way to describe that would be using fragmentation to keep things interesting and not create too much symmetry. Another thing she got categorized into would be a “paper architect.” That can be classified as creating designs that can not be the easiest to build given how radical certain designs can be. 

One of her famous designs that was never built would be for a private leisure club named The Peak in Hong Kong. 

Many of Hadid’s projects from the 1980s did not get built, but one of the first ones that did come to fruition was a design for Vitra Fire House in Weil am Rein, Germany. It was built between 1989 and 1993. The asymmetrical design really showed the deconstructivist architecture.

Hadid became the first woman to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize, which is the architecture award of the highest calibre. She was also named as one of TIME Magazine’s most influential people in 2010. 

Hadid passed away in Mar. 2016 at age 65. 36 unfinished projects were left behind. Most notably, a design for a stadium to be used in the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar and the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Centre in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

One of her designs for a 36-story glass tower shaped like a budding flower is set to be built on one of Hong Kong’s most expensive pieces of land. 

Marion Mahony Griffin

Marion Mahony Griffin (1871-1961)

It can be hard to miss any work from Walter Burley Griffin if you have any interest in architecture at all. Marion Mahony Griffin was once a key part of his renderings but is often overlooked by most architecture enthusiasts. 

Marion Mahony Griffin became one of the first licensed female architects in the world after taking and passing the Illinois State Licensure Exam in Jan. 1898. 

She was once described as “America’s first woman architect who needed no apology from men.” Barry Bryne, who was an associate to Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture business was pleased with Mahony, who he called “The best member of Frank Lloyd Wright’s staff

There were many internal competitions held within the business to design a project, and Mahony Griffin won most of them. Eventually, the relationship between Wright and Griffin soured and she left the office and married former co-worker Walter Burley Griffin who was five years younger. Marion and Walter also became an architectural team instead of only being romantic partners. 

A design put in to design the Australian capital city of Canberra was won and they moved to Australia to do some projects. Australia was a fairly new independent country at the time, and a capital city needed to be built. Canberra was chosen to be in a valley half way between Sydney and Melbourne, and their designs matched the landscape. 

They then took themselves to India in the 1930s to work on projects at Lucknow University. Walter passed away in 1937, leaving Mahony Griffin to do the rest of the work. She returned to Chicago in 1938 and wrote an autobiography of the work done by her and her husband that is unpublished. It is called “The Magic of America.” She passed away in 1961 and is buried in Chicago at Graceland Cemetery. 

Marion Mahony Griffin was never really the “frontrunner” in most projects but more of the sidekick. Walter Burley Griffin was not hesitant to credit Marion in the projects, but he still got most of the attention. 

Lina Bo Bardi

Lina Bo Bardi (1914-1992)

Bo Bardi was seen as one of the more prestigious female architects of the 20th century.

In 1939, she earned a degree in architecture at the University of Rome. She moved to Milan and started up a career in design journalism. Italy was one of the countries that was ravaged by World War II, and she got an assignment with fellow Architect Carlo Pagani and photographer Frederico Patellani to document the damage to the country. 

She later found herself in Brazil after marrying Pietro Maria Bardi, who was an art gallery director, dealer and a critic. She helped with the Art Museum of Sao Paulo, and one of the designs included a concept to hang paintings away from a wall. That idea was torn down in the 1990s and replaced with normal wall hangings. The design of the museum itself was elevated off the ground by concrete beams, and that freed up ground space for other things to be done underneath.

Another one of her most important architectural works included a modern looking glass house or “Casa de Vidro” right in the middle of a tropical forest. One half was suspended on stilts, while the other was built to the ground. It had a staircase going up into the house from the opening underneath. 

Some of her work may not be seen as too profound today, but this was the mid-20th century. Things were definitely ahead of its time. 

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