How many female architects do you know? Zaha Hadid may be a household name at this point, but what about the rest? Though professional architecture may be rife with gender disparity, that doesn’t mean there aren’t inspirational female architects to be found.
Ahead, discover our comprehensive list of the hottest names to know.
Women in Architecture
With her distinctive Goth-chic look, Odile Decq brings a touch of rock n roll to the architecture scene. Award-winning architect, urban planner and academic, this French powerhouse can do it all.
Decq founded architecture firm ODBC in 1979 with her partner and husband, Benoit Cornette. After Cornette’s death in 1998, Decq continued to practice, eventually changing the name of her firm to Studio Odile Decq in 2013. Boasting dramatic flair alongside technical brilliance, Decq’s work delights in shaking up the status quo. Think unexpected forms and shocks of vibrant color. In recent years, Decq has turned her attention to teaching. In 2014, Decq launched her very own design school in Lyon, France, where she takes an active role in guiding the next generation of budding architects.
With her addition to TIME magazine’s list of 100 most influential people in 2009 and 2018, Elizabeth Diller’s impact and power officially transcended to the mainstream. Though to be honest, TIME was just confirming what we all already knew to be true.
As the architectural mastermind behind a number of beloved cultural spaces, including the Manhattan High Line and LA’s Broad Museum, Diller’s mark on contemporary US architecture is undeniable. Together with her partner Ricardo Scofidio, the duo continue to push the boundaries of design via their eponymous architecture studio, Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Diller’s latest project? The Mile-Long Opera – an immersive choral work to be staged on the High Line, created, directed and produced by Diller herself. Is there anything she can’t do?
Internationally renowned for her work on Chicago’s Aqua Tower, American architect and MacArthur Fellow Jeanne Gang can add gender equality activist to her resume after her push to close the gender pay gap within her US-based architecture firm, Studio Gang.
With five out of 12 female directors and a further 35 out of 78 female employees, Studio Gang is leading the way in improving gender equality across the profession. With regards to Gang herself, other notable projects include the Arcus Center for Social Leadership in Kalamazoo and Writers Theater in Chicago. Beyond architecture, Gang aspires to use design to create public awareness and ‘give rise to change’, ultimately envisioning a far-reaching role for architects in societal development.
As one half of the duo behind Dublin-based practice, O’Donnell + Tuomey Architects, Sheila O’Donnell has long been making waves in the industry.
With a special interest in renewal, one of O’Donnell’s biggest projects has been the urban regeneration of Dublin’s Temple Bar. What’s more, in 2019 O’Donnell was awarded Women in Architecture’s ‘Architect of the Year’ award for her work on the Central European University in Budapest.
Architect, designer, artist, and scientist? Among her male and female counterparts alike, Neri Oxman is one of a kind.
The American-Israeli quadruple threat works at the intersection of computational design, architecture, marine science, molecular biology, and physics in the field of ‘Material Ecology’ – a field which Oxman herself happened to pioneer. In this approach, ‘products and buildings are biologically informed and digitally engineered by, with and for, nature’. Oxman does this through her self-directed Mediated Matter research group at MIT, where she is also an associate professor.
German-born New York transplant Annabelle Selldorf is without doubt the city’s go-to architect for restraint and understated elegance.
Under her eponymous studio, Selldorf Architects, Selldorf has designed gallery and exhibition spaces, prestigious residential tower blocks and museums galore. She’s also award-winning. In 2014, Selldorf was presented with the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Award in Architecture, and in 2016 she was the recipient of the AIANY Medal of Honor.
As the second woman ever to win a Pritzker Prize, Japanese architect Kazuyo Sejima’s clean minimalist aesthetic is a veritable hit across the board.
Together with partner Ryue Nishizawa, Kazuyo founded Tokyo architecture studio SANAA in 1995. SANAA has been behind iconic buildings across the globe, including Toledo Museum of Art’s Glass Pavilion and the Serpentine Pavilion in London. Over the years, Kazuyo has become a prominent member of the architectural community, taking up teaching positions at the likes of Princeton and Keio University, in addition to being the first female director of Venice’s Architecture Biennale.
How many of these women in architecture do you know?