Women's History Month: 6 Architects Who Left their Mark on Architecture and Design

Past and present, these architects are pioneers in their field!

March 29, 2021
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As Women's History Month comes to a close, Finegold Alexander is reflecting on six female architects past and present who have left their mark on the realm of architecture. Keep reading to learn more about these inspiration women and the legacies they leave behind.

Unknown photographer, photo from Pin-Up
Norma Merrick Sklarek, FAIA (1926-2021)

Among dozens of achievements and firsts, Norma excelled leading programs at the Pacific Design Center and the construction of Terminal One at LAX. She was the first African American woman to be named an AIA Fellow and formed Siegel Sklarek Diamond, the largest woman-owned practice in the U.S., going on to be a mentor and lecturer for the rest of her career.

Photo courtesy of The Architectural Archives, University of Pennsylvania
Anne Griswold Tyng, FAIA (1920-2011)

A Philadelphia-based architect, Tyng was known for her studies in space frame architecture and publications on the development of creative roles by women in architecture. The developer of the Tyng Toy and close partner to architect Louis Kahn, Tyng showed her spatial understanding through the development of triangulated ceiling trusses as seen at Yale Art Gallery. She also served as a professor in morphology at University of Pennsylvania for 27 years.

Photo courtesy of Jochen Luebke/AFP/Getty Images
Zaha Hadid, DBE RA (1950-2016)

One of the most well known architects of modern day architecture, British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid was the first woman to take home architecture's highest honor, the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004. Regarded as the "Queen of the curve" by The Guardian, Hadid broke the bounds of architectural geometry and gave new meaning to abstraction in architecture. Her most recent projects included Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul and Beijing Daxing Airport in Beijing, which was completed posthumously in 2019.

Photo courtesy of the Australian Design Review
Marion Mahony Griffin (1871-1961)

An American architect, Griffin was one of the first licensed female architects in the world and was instrumental in the design of many buildings in the city of Canberra, the capital of Australia. An original creator of the American Prairie School, Griffin's work reflected Prairie School ideals of indigenous North American landscapes and organic architecture.

Photo courtesy of Venturi
Denise Scott Brown, RIBA (1931-Present)

Regarded as one of the most influential architects of the 20th century, Denise Scott Brown and her husband Robert Venturi shaped the modern understanding of the relationship between design and society. Throughout her work and publications, Scott Brown strives to understand the city in terms of social, economic, and cultural perspectives that should be considered in design planning. She is also an icon in feminist ideas surrounding the realm of architecture, publishing her famous essay "Room at the Top? Sexism and the Star System in Architecture" in 1989.

Photo courtesy of Maya Lin
Maya Lin (1959-Present)

Best known for her design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial as an undergraduate at Yale University, Maya Lin has designed numerous memorials, landscapes, and sculptures. While her legacy is rooted in historical memorials, Lin has expanded her work to include environmentally themed designs that address personal relationships to natural and environmental decline. Still active as owner of Maya Lin Studio in New York, Lin continues to influence the world of architecture and design.