Julia Morgan died in 1957 after a long life. During that life she designed over 700 buildings. Educated at the University of California, Berkeley, she became the first woman to get an architecture license in that state. Her career took off when she became William Randolph Hearst’s principal architect. She was the architect for La Cuesta Encantada, better known as Hearst’s Castle. After the San Francisco earthquake in 1906, she redesigned the damaged Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill. I explored it the first time I visited San Francisco.
Zaha Hadid died unexpectedly last year. She developed bronchitis and had a heart attack while being treated. She was the first woman to win architecture’s biggest honor, the Pritzker Prize. Born in Baghdad, Iraq, she studied at the American University in Beirut, Lebanon. England, where she got her architecture credentials, became her home. She designed the Aquatics Centre for the 2012 Olympics held there. The Manchester Guardian dubbed her “Queen of the Curve”. Check out the museum she designed in Baku, Azerbaijan, to understand why. Wide-ranging in her interests and talent, she created a ski lift, a bridge, opera houses, etc. Most of her buildings are in Europe or Japan. Not many of them are in the United States. Cincinnati’s Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art and Lansing’s Broad are 2 of them. Ruth and I saw the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University in Lansing, and I blogged about on August 23, 2013. She also designed the West Hollywood Civic Centre.
The 3rd architect I really admire is in her prime and working mostly in Chicago. Her name is Jeanne Gang. Her father, a civil engineer, inspired her to design buildings. Gang has studied at the University of Illinois and at Harvard. Last year Ruth and I learned a lot about her when we visited Aqua, her innovative 87-story skyscraper in downtown Chicago. Her current project is Vista Tower. Construction has begun, but Vista Tower won’t open until 2019. It’s in a spectacular location since its 406 residences and 5-star hotel will be where the Chicago River and Lake Michigan meet. When completed, it will be the largest building ever designed by a woman and the 3rd tallest high rise in a city of very impressive high rises. In 2016 The Architectural Review named her Architect of the Year. She now also has an office in New York.
And these are just 3 of the female architects who have gained prominence. Check out Elisabeth Scott, Julia Barfield, Norma Merrick Sklarek–all hidden figures of note.