The Eye of the Fish

Leviathan
March 7, 2020

International Women’s Day

Today, Sunday, is International Women’s Day and so I thought that I would celebrate with my favourite woman architect. Who might that be? Some of you who know me may guess who that may be – after all, she is my alter-ego – but perhaps we first celebrate with a few other great women architects first. Who is your pick?

First up for me is a duo – Yvonne Farrell & Shelley McNamara – who have just been awarded the 2020 Pritzger Prize for Architecture, the RIBA Gold Medal, the RAIA Downes Medal, the RAIA Gandon Medal, and many more over the years.

Grafton Architects: They’re hugely talented, but their buildings are rather subtle – not outwardly showy like so many prize-winning more penile architects (e.g. Jean Nouvel’s Agbar Torre in Barcelona…!)

– but Farrell and McNamara have designed far more subtle, interior labyrinthine spaces such as the School of Economics in the University Luigi Boccone in Milan, or the University of Limerick Medical School.

The Luigi Boccone was certainly a crowd-pleaser, winning numerous awards for Grafton Architects:

Architectural Association of Ireland : 2009 Downes Medal

RIAI Institute of Architects of Ireland : Gold Medal for Architecture 2007 – 2009

World Architecture Festival 2008 : World Building of the Year Award &
Learning Category Award – Universita Luigi Bocconi, Milan, Italy

2008 Mies van der Rohe Awards : Finalist – Universita Luigi Bocconi, Milan.

To be sure, they’re good – they’re great ! But they’re not my favourite. Actually, my local favourite is Sharon Jansen, a Wellington-based small-project supremo whose work won a Wellington Branch NZIA Award last year. She has a keen eye for cracking design and a really sensitive approach to architecture – again, not shouty.

But she’s not top of my list, best architect ever. There’s someone else (sorry Sharon). So, who is it? (to be continued…. but in the mean time, you can have a guess)…

starkive
7 - 03 - 20

Tell me it’s not Zaha…

Leviathan
7 - 03 - 20

Why would I tell you its not Zaha ?

m-d
8 - 03 - 20

Denise Scott-Brown, who should have won a Pritzker…?

starkive
8 - 03 - 20

Well, how about

https://www.reddit.com/r/ArchitecturePorn/comments/8hmd84/port_house_in_antwerp_belgium_architect_zaha/

?

Leviathan
8 - 03 - 20

m-d : do you really think so? Do you mean should have shared it? They’re both great thinkers – not so great as Architects in my books. I met them once, many years ago, its all a bit vague and blurry now, but they seemed nice folk. They were doing a project for the Philadelphia Zoo at the time, and had a large fibreglass tree in their office. Wacky stuff: everything had pediments. Hmmmmm def not Pritsker material to me.

Leviathan
8 - 03 - 20

starkive – too thrusting and banging and crashing for you? But that’s what she was all about! Friens o mine in London worked on the floor below her and could hear her tantrums through the ceiling above. She would throw things, apparently. I reckon that on this occasion, she threw the model of a boat and it got stuck in the roof of the heritage model.

Seamonkey Madness
9 - 03 - 20

Not that I know about architecture, let alone women in architecture too much (apart from ZH), but this was a link that popped up in my feed, celebrating IWD, particularly those who excel in the architectural, engineering and design space.

http://manuelle-gautrand.com/

She seems pretty well accomplished. Is she someone you have heard of before Levi?

https://blog.bricsys.com/women-in-engineering-cad-architecture-drafting/

m-d
9 - 03 - 20

Maybe shared, maybe solo. DS-B offered much to architecture, even if the actual built output of the joint practice might be found wanting in aesthetic delight by today’s (or perhaps any?) standards.
But I would suggest there was a greater legacy in what we learnt from Las Vegas than there was within Complexity and Contradiction?

m-d
9 - 03 - 20

Well, anyway, I’m sure you’d like Lina Bo Bardi?

stuart gardyne
10 - 03 - 20

Kasuyo Sejima work with and without Ryue is about as good as it gets

Leviathan
11 - 03 - 20

All good suggestions – thanks for the input. Kasuyo Seijima is indeed doing some really good architecture, but Seamonkey’s suggestion of Manuelle Gautrand is an interesting one. No, I hadn’t specifically heard of her, but I have of course seen some of her work – she is prolific! – and perhaps that’s because of inherent sexism in the industry, or perhaps its more likely because she is French and the Anglo-American world does not pay as much attention to the non-English world as it should.

Lina Bo Bardi is one of those enigmatic figures from history too. Italian-born, Brazilian-cultured, Bo’s work was over-shadowed by some of those big-name, (male), heavy hitters that she was in the same era of. Hmmmm. Maybe I should do a post on her…?