Annals of Computing: “Silicon City” exhibition at the New York Historical Society questions origins of the digital era
Radical inventions that lead to profound societal transformations tend to be accompanied by founding myths and overlapping claims for authorship. Once a certain founding story has been widely accepted, research will periodically uncover it as being false, and the evidence for an alternate narrative will emerge.
Trying to change accepted founding myths is notoriously difficult: Gutenberg built his printing press after centuries of development in printmaking across the world, but his name is strongly tied to the advent of the printing revolution. Importantly, the significance of a figure like Gutenberg and the related story becomes a point of local pride.
We live in a listicle age. Why write an article when you can clump a few names together and call it a trend? So when Los Angeles Magazine listed six women who have changed the face of Los Angeles architecture, which included one dead AIA Gold Medalist and two New Yorkers, it was bound to create outcry. Brava to the three local gals who made the cut, but let’s celebrate all the women of the L.A. architecture and design scene. When local schools put one lady on the lecture series and pat themselves on the back, we know more needs to be done for gender equity.
The Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation (BWAF), a non-profit dedicated to “changing the culture of the building industry, for women, through education and research,” just announced that after a national search it has chosen a new executive director: James T. Hanley, formerly the senior associate director of development at Barnard College. Hanley has undergraduate and advanced degrees in architecture along with an MBA and an MA in Art History and claims he will use his “skills in program development and financial management to broaden the role of the organization throughout the United States.”
Beverly Willis, the founder of BWAF, said that Hanley is “keenly aware of the issues encountered by women in the design industry” which will “enable BWAF to build on its prior successes and help women achieve their professional and personal goals through our programs and outreach.”
Under Hanley’s leadership, the organization is launching a number of new initiatives in 2014. These include the exploration of a program for women as emerging leaders and the impact of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) as factors in success. Another new initiative is “Built by Women: New York City,” a focused collection within the Foundation’s Dynamic National Archive (DNA), which BWAF plans to use as a pilot for similar projects for cities around the country. Finally In 2014, it will complete its project entitled “Women of 20th-Century American Architecture,” to highlight the contributions of 50 outstanding women who significantly shaped the built environment in America.
Thanks to the Italcementi Group, International Women’s Day just became that much more special. This year the group found a unique way to celebrate the holiday by instituting the very first competition its arcVision—Women in Architecture prize, an award that valorizes the increasingly important role women have and continue to play in architecture.
The jury selected 19 finalists from 15 different countries including but not limited to Egypt, Switzerland, Singapore, Italy, and Thailand. The architects were judged according to their creative approach in designing an unconventional structure as well as their ability to design a building that responds to the context of its site.
The prize was bestowed to Brazilian architect Carla Juaçaba at a press conference at the group’s i.lab Research Center (designed by Richard Meier) in Bergamo on March 7th, and was publicly announced the following day for International Women’s Day.
In a recent interview with the London newspaper The Observer, architect Zaha Hadid made the point that female architects are typecast. “It is thought they [women] understand interior shapes, and I am sure they do understand them better than men actually, but the idea is that they will prefer to deal with a single client, rather than with corporations and developers,” said Hadid, noting that women practitioners often ended up with residential or leisure-related projects rather than large-scale commercial work. Hadid spoke out following publication of a research report by the Architects’ Journal on gender issues in British architecture. The report, deploying a rather Shakespearian tone, claims to have uncovered a “sinister and rotten kernel of inequality.” Women “need to be encouraged and to have their confidence built up,” said Hadid, a notoriously tough boss herself. We’d like to see Hadid team up with Facebook COO turned working-woman activist Sheryl Sandberg for a road show.
California’s Designing Women
The Autry in Griffith Park
4700 Western Heritage Way
Through January 6, 2013
It was uncommon for women to practice industrial design throughout late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, California’s newness and frequent population growth provided various opportunities for women to get involved with the creation and production of design. Autry National Center’s California’s Designing Women, 1896–1986 with works from over fifty women designers from California celebrates female designers who made major contributions to Californian and American design. The exhibition displays approximately 240 examples of textiles, ceramics, furniture, lighting, tapestries, jewelry, clothing, and graphics all inspired by California’s amalgam of society which include Indigenous American, Chinese, Japanese, Anglo, and Mexican cultures. Upholding California’s reputation for unlimited creativity, the displayed work includes materials such as wood, abalone, glass cotton, steel, silver, acetate, acrylic, and fiberglass, spanning a century of design movements from arts and crafts to art deco to mid-century modern and beyond.
On Wednesday night, the Guggenheim brought together the women behind the man, and apparently the myth of Frank Lloyd Wright, in a program titled “The Architecture of Wright: Wright, Women & Narrative.”
Co-organized with the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation, the lecture was accompanied by the premiere of A Girl Is A Fellow Here: 100 Women Architects in the Studio of Frank Lloyd Wright, a 15-minute documentary film produced by the Foundation. Throughout his career, Wright employed over 100 women architects and designers, and the film focuses on the lives of six of these women, including Marion Mahony, Isabel Roberts, Lois Gottlieb, Jane Duncombe, Eleanore Petterson, and Read Weber, who worked alongside Wright during his prolific career from his Oak Park offices to Taliesin West. Read More