Although women have been practicing architecture for over 150 years, few women have ever received awards or recognitions for their work in what remains a largely male-dominated field. From starchitect Zaha Hadid to sustainable architecture champion Anna Heringer to theorist and practitioner Farshid Moussavi, here are some of the women whose designs have shaped our cities.
- Anna Heringer
A champion of sustainable architecture, German architect Anna Heringer is best known for her design of the METI Handmade School in Rudrapur, Bangladesh, which received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2007. Built by local craftsmen using traditional materials like mud and bamboo, the project has been hailed for its ecological sustainability and its engagement of local craftsmen, as well as its educational value in teaching craftsmen to use new building methods. Heringer received the Curry Stone Design Prize in 2009 and the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture in 2011 for the project.
Since then, Heringer has designed projects that integrate local communities and promote sustainable architecture in the DESI Centre in Bangladesh, the Kindergarten for the permaculture community PORET in Zimbabwe and Training Center for Sustainability in Morocco.
- Kazuyo Sejima
Best known for her modernist style and her usage of glass and metal, Japanese architect Kazuyo Sejima co-founded Sejima and Nishizawa and Associates (SANAA) with architect Ryue Nishizawa in 1995. Together, Sejima and Nishizawa designed the Rolex Learning Center at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), in Lausanne, Switzerland, the Onishi Civic Center in Gunma, Japan, the Artscenter in Almere, the Netherlands, as well as the Louvre-Lens in Lens, France and the New Museum in New York. In 2010, the duo received the Pritzker Prize, making Sejima the second woman to ever receive the prestigious award.
- Liz (Elizabeth) Diller
Co-founder of the New York-based interdisciplinary design studio Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Liz Diller works closely with a team of artists and architects to integrate architecture with the visual and performing arts. Under Diller and her partners’ supervision, the firm has worked on projects like the redevelopment of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York, The Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston and the Perry and Marty Granoff Creative Arts Center at Brown University, to name a few. Notably, Diller Scofidio + Renfro also designed New York’s hugely popular High Line Park in collaboration with landscape architecture firm Field Operations.
Diller is also a Professor of Architecture at Princeton University.
- Lene Tranberg
Danish architect Lene Tranberg co-founded Lundgaard & Tranberg with Boje Lundgaard in 1983, marking the beginning of a prestigious career as head architect and designer. The firm, which received the RIBA European Awards in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011 and 2013, is famous for designing the Royal Danish Playhouse in Copenhagen and for the 2006 Tietgenkollegiet student hostel in Ørestad, Copenhagen.
In addition to practicing, Tranberg is a lecturer at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts’ School of Architecture, and served as CEO of the Danish Architecture Centre between 1998 and 2002. She has received numerous awards and distinctions, including the Nykredit Architecture Prize, the C.F. Hansen Medal in 2005, the Danish Business Woman of the Year (2010), the Knight of the Order of the Dannebrog (2010), and the Prince Eugen Medal for Architecture, to name a few.
- Nicole Dosso
For those who think that high-rise buildings are the exclusive domain of men: think again. An expert in the design of high-rise buildings in urban environments, Nicole Dosso‘s portfolio includes projects like 7 World Trade Center and One World Trade Center in New York. Dosso, who has been with architecture, design, engineering and urban planning firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) since 1998, has also worked on the Baccarat Hotel & Residences, Manhattan West mixed-use development, and 250 West 55th Street commercial office building, among others.
The LEED-accredited architect received a Presidential Citation from the American Institute of Architects for her work at the World Trade Center site.
- Farshid Moussavi
Iranian-British Architect Farshid Moussavi is a prolific writer and architectural theorist as well as a practicing architect. A member of the Royal Academy of Arts, Moussavi worked with the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) before co-founding Foreign Office Architects (FOA) with her husband Alejandro Zaera-Polo in London in 1993. The firm was shuttered in 2009 following the couple’s separation, and Moussava founded Farshad Moussavi Architecture (FMA) in 2011.
Moussavi has designed projects like the Victoria Beckham Flagship Store in London, the John Lewis Department Store and Cineplex in Leicester, The Yokohama International Port Terminal in Yokohama, the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (MOCA), and the London 2012 Olympic Park, to name a few.
A Professor of Architecture at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, Moussavi has authored three books exploring the role of affect in contemporary architecture: The Function of Style, The Function of Form, and The Function of Ornament.
- Zaha Hadid
No list of female architects would be complete without the work of Iraqi-British architect Dame Zaha Hadid. The first woman to be awarded the coveted Pritzker Prize for Architecture, Hadid’s name has become synonymous with neo-futuristic designs and elongated curves, and her experimentation with non-traditional designs has altered skylines around the world.
After working with Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), Hadid founded Zaha Hadid Architects in London in 1980, which has since worked on over 900 projects. She has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the Schelling Architecture Prize in 1994 and the RIBA Stirling Prize in 2010 and 2011. In 2004, she received the Pritzker Architecture Prize, making her the first woman (and first Muslim) to receive the award, and in 2016, she was the first woman to be awarded the RIBA Gold Medal – an award given in recognition of a lifetime’s work.
Hadid was made a dame in 2012. In addition to her practice, she teaches at the University of Applied Arts Vienna in Austria.