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Double Whammy

October 4, 2012


A couple of weeks ago, Architect magazine published its September issue, which included a feature article I’d been plugging away at for a long, long time. In “Double Whammy,” I look at the status of women in real-estate development and find a lot of parallels with architecture. Women are entering both architecture and commercial real estate in droves, but they’re still poorly represented at the principal/partner/C-suite level. Getting the chance to work on big projects, and to borrow big money, remains rare for female entrepreneurs in both professions.

I diagnosed a lot of common ailments, but couldn’t find an obvious cure. One change that would be helpful would be for larger architecture and CRE firms to aggressively recruit and promote talented, ambitious women into their executive ranks. Women can’t launch their own firms without experience working in established firms at this level. Women need better access to capital, too, without a doubt.

Even after 15 great interviews, I’m still not sure why women architects have become well-known designers in the cultural and educational spheres (think of Marion Weiss or Julie Snow), but not the commercial world. So what, some might say — but to me it’s a problem, the glass box as glass ceiling.

Whether it’s due to the clients (developers) being almost all men, or the bias that steers women architects into interiors and away from curtain wall assemblies, or female attrition from corporate design firms — I find it troubling. For one thing, women architects are missing out on some incredible PR, the kind that comes from building really tall (or big). Is it any wonder that Jeanne Gang won a MacArthur grant after the Aqua opened?

Here’s me saying the same thing (more or less) on camera for Architect.

One Comment

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  1. August 13, 2014

    Hi regarding Skyscrapers in the Suburbia
    ? how to best reinvent the suburbs?
    just slimed over your Skyscrapers in the Subdivision, noted no mention of the carfree places at the heart.
    This concept (as you may know) of carfree town centers started in northern euro cities in the 1970.
    “Le Corbusier segregated the pedestrian circulation paths from the roadways, and glorified the use of the automobile as a means of transportation. As one moved out from the central skyscrapers, smaller multi-story zigzag blocks set in green space and set far back from the street housed the proletarian workers.”

    As you know the world is now in the precess of building their new cities in this manner. Think China. these cities do not seem very nice to me.

    As we try to image the future of our human habitats beyond the suburban auto centric model. I think the answer will be carfare places at the heart. and

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