Ladies, Can I Interest You In Architecture?

Platform Architectures Women in Architecture

Estudio Entresitio Women in Architecture

Why does architecture seem like one big sausage party? When I started thinking about this idea of “bros” in architecture, I started to look at built work and figure out what a masculine spaces look like. To me, a lot of architect-ed spaces look manly. Is it a stark color palette? Is it a muscular use of steel? Is it aggressive and imposing massing? Well I found several projects and wanted to confirm my suspicion that they were designed or managed by men. To my surprise, they were not.

The two the projects above: The Hérouville-Saint-Clair Hotel by Platform Architectures (the brown one) and the CEDT Daimiel by Estudio Entresitio (the silvery grey and red one) were either designed or project managed by women. So I have to wonder if the masculinity I saw in these buildings was really just my own bias. Maybe I was advancing assumptions about women that have persisted from the archaic division of men and women into architecture and interior design. I’ve worked with enough women to know that their job isn’t to bring a feminine touch to the harsh angles of architecture, but that their job was the same as mine: to somehow help the harsh angles become reality.

I asked a few of my female friends in school and in practice if they felt like they were treated differently because of their no-no parts.  They all said yes. In a profession where only 21% of licensed architects are female, it’s hard not to wonder why only 21% of licensed architects are female. According to Aaron Betsky, “over half the women in many architecture schools are women.” I love his typo (because he is brilliant and I feel a little less dumb for all of mine typos) and even though I’m not sure where he found the evidence for his claim, this could either mean that the chauvinism in architecture is literally dying or, more bleakly, that women are graduating into a profession but not advancing within it.  Maybe the most masculine spaces that architects build are their own offices.

Alex Dent

February 1, 2013 / By

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