The Architectural Foundation of San Francisco has created the Build San Francisco Institute, a half day high school program for students interested in design, construction, engineering and architecture. The Build San Francisco Institute is a unique community educational partnership, involving AFSF, San Francisco Unified School District and more than two dozen major San Francisco firms.
“When I first visited the Greenbuild website to sign up, I became very excited: The prospect of spending three days in educational sessions at one of the world’s largest conferences dedicated to green buildings with building professionals from around the world sounded thrilling.” – Benjamin Todt
Last summer, I purchased a home in Napa with my partner, Anne Fougeron. Most of the existing style choices were an abomination to our modernist sensibilities.
“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.