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“Women forget that we CAN go with our instinct, we can trust our intuitions. Sometimes women at big firms or competitive work situations take the attitude that “I can make it work… I have to make it work… I’ll do whatever it takes, suck it up without complaint”. For women and men alike, it’s important to have control over our own destiny. Follow your passion, and don’t assume there’s only one right way to do, or think about, architecture.”
“If you want to change things, you have to stay in the game. If you drop out and talk from the sidelines, people won’t take you as seriously.
Having a good mentor is very important. I can’t stress enough how important it is to be able to turn to someone for advice… a mentor can also be a model of behavior. I could watch my colleagues to see how they talked to people, how they spoke to clients and contractors. They did some custom, highly creative designs – how did they manage to get their way? Even the wording to use can be important… a mentor can coach you on how to speak.”
“When I was young, I was a rebellious soul. My dream was to be an artist, and my mission in life was to have the freedom to own my own work, control my own schedule, and protect my creative energy. At age 15, I already knew that I wanted freedom. I had a vision of myself living an authentic life. That was my rebellion.”
“When the time came for me to start a family, I determined that the best way for me to have the work/life balance that I needed was to start my own practice. At that time, many of my peers were doing the same, because we could create how we wanted to work to support this. We were able to provide good service to our clients, and our clients respected our choice to frame our business to honor both family and profession.”
“People thought that I wasn’t married because I was a career architect. The assumption is that you can either have a firm, or you can have a reasonable life as a stay-at-home mom – but then you can’t have a career. They aren’t dichotomous lifestyles.
Figure out where you want your career to be and when – have a game plan and stick to it. Don’t give up on it halfway through because you feel some nagging societal pressure to only be a mother and nothing else. Be proud of what you do and be proud of your choices. Most importantly – don’t let anyone make those choices for you.”
The Architect’s Take interviews five prominent San Francisco women architects about the challenges and rewards faced by women in architecture today. Left to right, from upper left: Anne Fougeron, Kate Stickley, Karin Payson, EB Min, and Amy Eliot.
A Tulane University geographer reframes the debate about the fate of below-sea-level New Orleans. “The city still has over 2,000 open lots all above sea level – a precious natural resource whose use we should prioritize for human occupancy. Filling in these pockets would also help mend the urban fabric that was torn by the population exodus ongoing since the 1960s. And we can do this without marginalizing low-lying neighborhoods.”
(Map courtesy Prof. Richard Campanella)
“My own work now, it’s all one house, just done over and over. I see a connection between one idea to the next – I’m always exploring contrasts along similar lines: opacity-transparency, heaviness-lightness, action-reaction. The ideas can morph to suit the circumstances, and they get refined from one project to the next.”
– Craig Steely, Architect
“To me, a good client is someone who’s really interested in the process. Someone who really WANTS to be involved. I demand it, actually… I only work with people that I like and respect. The point of taking only good work is that you’re more invested in it. I love what I do and don’t want to get burned out.”
– Craig Steely, Architect