Women in Architecture: A Historic Look

At COR3, we are proud to be a firm made up of majority women. Architecture has historically been a male-dominated profession, with women facing various challenges in terms of representation, advancement opportunities, and leadership roles within firms. However, the intentionality of building a diverse team is an important aspect of the culture at COR3, which is represented through our collaborative, inclusive environment.

In honor of Women’s History Month this March, we wanted to highlight four women who were literally and figuratively groundbreaking in the architecture industry. From the 1600’s to today, these women have shared their creativity and passion for innovative design (SOURCE). 

Lady Elizabeth Wilbraham was born in 1632 and is considered the first female architect in Britain. Despite the prevailing societal norms of her time, some historians believe she designed around 400 buildings in her time. She met with architects all across Europe and studied in Venice for a brief period. While many of her designs were credited to male counterparts, she left her mark on the world of architecture and paved the way for many women after her. 

Marion Mahoney Griffin was one of the first licensed female architects in the world. She graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1894 and spent the early years of her career working closely with Frank Lloyd Wright. She played a significant role in the development of Wright’s Prairie style architecture.  Griffin’s contributions not only showcased her talent but also challenged gender norms within the profession, paving the way for greater recognition of women in architecture.

Born in 1926, Norma Merrick Sklarek is the first Black woman to become a licensed architect in California and New York. Her portfolio includes notable projects such as the Mall of America and the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, solidifying her legacy as a trailblazer and inspiring future generations of architects from diverse backgrounds. She was also a key member of the American Institute of Architecture (AIA).

Last, but certainly not least in our brief overview of women in architecture is Dame Zaha Hadid. Born in Baghdad, Hadid went on to get her diploma from the Architectural Association in London. Hadid’s avant-garde creations challenged conventional notions of space and form. She won many awards, including the RIBA Gold Medal, Britain’s top architectural award, and was named Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, which is the female equivalent of being knighted! 

The contributions of these remarkable women serve as a testament to the resilience, creativity, and ingenuity of female architects throughout history. Their stories inspire us to continue pushing boundaries and advocating for greater diversity and inclusion within the architecture profession. At COR3, we recognize the profound impact of women in architecture and remain committed to fostering an environment where all voices are heard and celebrated.

As we commemorate Women’s History Month, we honor the trailblazers who have shaped the architectural landscape and paved the way for future generations of women in the field. Their legacy serves as a reminder that diversity is not only essential for innovation but also fundamental to creating a more equitable and inclusive built environment.

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