The Woman Architect and Her Field of Influence

More than 85 women architects from all over the world recently met in Washington, D.C., and Blacksburg, Virginia, for the 18th Congress of the L'Union Internationale des Femmes Architectes (UIFA) together with a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the International Union of Women Architects (IAWA). The conference theme, "The Woman Architect and Her Field of Influence," provided the ideal opportunity to celebrate the contributions of women in the architectural profession, including disciplines related to construction, research, education, and practice.

85 Women Architects in DC

Touring Architectural History

My first opportunity to take part in an IAWA event was 18 years ago in Washington, D.C.—the last time the organization met in the U.S. I was pleased to have an opportunity to volunteer again this year and meet women from five continents and 14 different countries. On the first day of the gathering, Dewberry sponsored a lunch in the Kogod Courtyard at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery. We also received a fascinating tour of the Library of Congress, where staff had prepared for us a special exhibit of work by women architects. The work ranged from Maya Lin's original drawings for the Vietnam Memorial to a selection of drawings by famed Modernist architect and urban planner Chloethiel Woodard Smith.

The group also enjoyed a tour of the U.S. Capitol, the National Building Museum, and the Vietnam Memorial, along with a visit to the AIA national headquarters. On their way to conference proceedings at Virginia Tech, the women received a customized tour of Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. The week-long event continued with exhibitions, tours, and the presentation of papers at Virginia Tech, home to the International Archive of Women in Architecture.

Women Architects in the U.S. Capitol

Women in Architecture

I enjoyed meeting such a diverse and accomplished group of women, and had a chance to reflect on how far we have come in the profession. When I attended Clemson University, there were only six women in my class of 125 in architecture school. This gathering was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the progress women have made in the profession, learn about their work all over the world, and explore how projects in different countries are realized. It was inspiring to meet women who are truly global pioneers in the field of architecture.

  • Marlene Shade
    Marlene Shade
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