Professions do not really require gender, but the cultural myth of some believe that certain professions are only made for men. Architecture is not an exception to this machismo myth, but this course does not require all-male learners,  it requires skills and knowledge to be able to perform successful projects and operations.

One of the professions that increase the numbers of women enrolled around the world is Architecture, a high percentage of licensed architects are held by women. Undeniably, many women in different races carry passion, talent, and natural involvement in planning, designing, and building.

Female architects are so underrated that not many give them proper recognition and appreciation, but many of them made history and received various awards that inspired women to follow the same footsteps, and create tremendous projects to let the world know that they are also capable of designing and building.

10 Famous Female Architects Who Made History in Architecture

Listed here are 10 Famous Female Architects, whose names are known in the history of architecture; who made significant contributions, and are remembered for their hard work.

Marion Mahony Griffin

Marion Mahony Griffin

Marion Mahony Griffin always deserves the first spot when listing out female architects who made history. She’s known by different names such as Marion M. Griffin, Marion Mahony, and Marion Lucy Griffin. She was called in different names of praises, and appreciation such as the “woman in a man’s world”, the “Frida Kahlo of Chicago school,” and the “greatest architectural Delineator of her generation” by different writers.

Born in Chicago, Illinois on February 14, 1871, Marion Mahony Griffin was the first female registered architect, and the first female architecture graduate in America, and one of the first female licensed architects in the world, and the second woman to graduate in her alma mater, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Considered as an original member of a Prairie School, one of her first, not-so-fortunate professional employment was Frank Lloyd Wright, the pre-eminent Prairie School architect who seems to enjoy taking credit for Marion’s work. She denied Wright’s offer to take over his studio but agreed to be his successor with her condition to have full control of designs.

Married to Walter Burley Griffin, they have shared big projects together, one of which they have won is the commission to design the Australian Federal Capital in Canberra, this is one big competition in which they were held as champions. They have worked together, even before their marriage in Michigan on June 29, 1911.

Marion Mahony Griffin’s career spanned almost sixty years on three continents, she has numerous major projects and won competitions and awards throughout her career. Aware of her influence in architecture, she also helped women who dreamed to be an architect. And though was known to be the person to be forgotten and suddenly remembered, her contributions have shaped not just the architectural history but the American history and are known to be a work of magic.

Marion Mahony Griffin wasn’t just an architect, she was also an artist, an environmentalist, an educator, and a journalist. She died on August 10, 1961, at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, and her remains are buried in Chicago’s Graceland Cemetery.

Julia Morgan

julia morgan

The woman of many firsts, Julia Morgan, a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and known as the first female engineering major at the same school. Some of the few “firsts” she is known of are: The first woman to pass an architecture entrance exam in École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, the first woman to graduate from the same school, and the first female architect in California. Julia Morgan was also the first woman to be awarded a Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects in recognition of her tremendous hard work, a first receiver of the medal in its 107th year.

Born in San Francisco on January  20, 1872, Julia Morgan was known to have worked for over seven hundred projects, collaborating with William Randolf Hearts, she worked on his amazing La Cuesta Encantada for over twenty years. Now known as Heart’s Castle and serves as a  National Historic Landmark, this is one great work that Julia Morgan is best known for.

Promoting a healthy lifestyle, Julia designed Berkeley’s Women’s City Club, funded by Berkeley women, and opened with 4,000 members. The club has an indoor swimming pool dedicated to providing safety and comfort to hundreds of women. Now known as Berkeley City Club, this remains open to the public hosting different types of gatherings, including the famous women; artists, and World Premier Aviatrix.

Julia Morgan left successfully constructed projects that are still being recognized up to these days. She retired in 1951 at the age of 79 and died on February 2, 1957, at the age of 85 in San Francisco. Julia Morgan was one of the women architects who are almost unknown to history even though a lot of her buildings still stand up to now.

Norma Merrick Sklarek

norma merrick

Known as the “Rosa Parks of Architecture”, Norma Merrick Sklarek was recognized as the first licensed African American woman architect in New York and California. She was also the first black woman recipient of a fellowship award from the American Institute of Architects and became the founder of Siegel, Sklarek, and Diamond architectural firm, the largest female-owned woman firm in her time. Rejected in nineteen firms, Norma Merrick Sklarek braved racism in sexism in one huge city by proving her talent and passion in architecture, and with this, she was known and awarded numerous recognitions.

Born on April 15, 1926, in Harlem, New York City, an only child of Ernest Merrick, a doctor, and Amy Merrick, a seamstress from Trinidad. She graduated from the School of Architecture at Columbia University, she was the first African American woman in the class, and the second woman in the class. Norma had many rejections and faced a lot of discrimination throughout her early career, in addition, she worked as a single mother of two children in which her mother cared for as she worked and taught evening architecture classes at the New York City Community College.

Norma’s one great achievement is being able to design the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo together with Cesar Pelli. The following are some of her huge projects in California: San Bernardino City Hall, San Francisco Fox Plaza, the original Terminal One in Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), the “Blue Whale” of the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles, Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles. Following these achievements, she had various big projects that raised her career.

The biggest achievement she was known for was becoming the founder of the biggest all-women architectural firm, the Siegel, Sklarek, and Diamond, together with two brilliant female architects, Marot Siegel and Katherine Diamond. This sparked the inspiration in every woman who dreamed to be in the same field.

After decades of victories and accomplishments, Norma Merrick Sklarek died on February 6, 2012, in Pacific Palisades, California due to heart failure

Denise Scott Brown

Denise Scott Brown

Equality in the architectural field was what Denise Scott Brown has been campaigning for. Known as one of the most important female architects in history, Denise Scott Brown has proven her passion in her profession by creating projects together with her collaborator and lifetime partner, Robert Venturi. Denise Scott Brown has always been coupled with one of the famous healthy controversies in the world of architecture, the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1991 which is equivalent to a Nobel Prize.

Denise Scott Brown  was born as Denise Lakofski on October 3, 1931, Denise dreamed of being an architect at the age of five. One of the five women in the class of 65, Denise graduated from the School of Architecture at University of the Witwatersrand in 1952. She then moved to London Architectural Association to further her studies and earn more work experiences.

She moved to Pennsylvania in 1958 to complete her masters at University of Pennsylvania. This was where she and Robert Venturi met, one of the male architects that also made history. They met at the same school while Venturi was already teaching architecture, they also worked for different projects until they married in1967. After their marriage, Denise Scoot Brown joined Venturi and Rauch, Robert Venturi’s firm that later on became Venturi and Scott Brown Associates.

The two had numerous wonderful and huge projects together such as art museums. Becoming the Principal in Charge of urban planning in 1987, Scott Brown worked on collaboration of two firms where she focused on huge master plans such as landscaping, public pathways, commercial development.  Some of her significant projects together with her husband, were the London’s National Gallery 120,000 square foot addition, the Children’s Museum of Houston together with Jackson & Ryan Architects, Seattle Art Museum, Fire Station #4 in Columbus, Indiana, and David Singer Architect gave the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.

In 1991, Robert Venturi won the prestigious Pritzker Prize, which was not attended by Denise Scott Brown in protest since their projects were made in collaboration. Venturi demanded for her wife to be acknowledged, as well as Women in the Women in Design organization at the Harvard Graduate School of Design gathered over 20,000 signatures for a petition, but to no avail, the Pritzker did not changed their decision for, during their time, the awards given are only for individuals and not partnerships.

In 2012, Venturi and Scott Brown retired after a path taking career for almost half a century. In 2018, Venturi died in a car accident while Denise Scott Brown continues to support campaigns for women in the architectural field.

Jeanne Gang

jeanne gang

You cannot mention Aqua Tower and not couple it with Jeanne Gang. By this year, the building is known as the second tallest woman-built building in the world. Her innovative environmental and ecological sustainability approaches have earned her international acclaim.

Born on March 19, 1964 in Belvidere, Illinois, U.S. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in architecture in Urbana-Campaign at University of Illinois in 1986.  While an ambassadorial scholar at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich, she studied urban design, an interdisciplinary program that combines landscape architecture, urban planning, architecture, and engineering. In 1993, she earned her master’s degree at Harvard University and was employed in the Netherlands as project architect and lead designer.

Carrying her best experiences and rising career, Jeanne Gang founded and led her very own firm, Studio Gang Architects in Chicago in 1997. She and her firm continued to be victorious in creating spectacular buildings and skyscrapers that people looked up to admire. Aside from the 82 stories of Aqua Tower, Jeanne Gang and the firm has designed and handled significant projects such as: Chicago River Boathouses, Brick Weave House, Nature Boardwalk of Chicao’s Lincoln Park Zoo, the Solar Carve, and educational facilities of Columbia College Chicago Media Production Center.

Named as one of the most influential people of 2019, Gang and her firm has been the recipient of multiple national and international awards, and they still continue to create international award-winning projects, They develop creating exhibitions, publications, and research that display the power of design to raise awareness and bring about change, which they call “actionable idealism.

Neri Oxman

neri oxman

Named as “Revolutionary Mind” by SEED Magazine, she excels not just in designing building projects, but as well as creating a remarkable impact in digital designing. Among her many contributions is her work in digital fabrication and construction, as well as in architectural and product design, and through innovative digital design technology, she strives to incorporate the influence of nature into her designs.

Born on February 6, 1976 in Haifa, Israel, Neri Oxman is an American-Israeli architect who first studied in the medical field in Hebrew University’s Medical School, and yet two years later, she decided to change her course to architecture at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.  Obtaining her master’s degree in London Architectural Association School of Architecture, she also obtained Ph.D. in architecture at MIT.

The mother of the term and pioneer of “material ecology” the study and design of products and processes that take an environmental awareness, computational, and form-generation approach along with digital fabrication technology into account, she also established the Mediated Matter research group, a group that conducts research and explorations on the intersection of digital designing, fabrication technologies, and building projects that does not compromise the environment.

Oxman’s team developed the first-ever 3D printer that is capable of printing transparent glass, the G3DP. The group has developed custom printers, including a prototype design for building outdoor structures with a robotic arm that can reach heights of eight feet. Neri Oxman’s other notable creations are the Silk Pavilion, Ocean Pavilion, Synthetic Apiary,  and Imaginary Beings.

Neri Oxman has been acknowledged and awarded by different prestigious awards for her great and remarkable contribution in the field of architecture, mainly digitally designing projects that helps blend nature without it being at stake.

Elizabeth Diller

elizabeth diller

Manhattan’s West side will never be the same without Elizabeth Diller’s important contribution in the High Line, an elevated train track that Diller transformed into a public park. Considered as one of the most influential women in the world, Elizabeth Diller is one of the leading and admired women in architecture.

Born in 1954 in Poland, Elizabeth Diller studied art at The Cooper Union but eventually took up architecture class and earned her B.A. in architecture in 1979. Her practice later spanned as she is known as a great urban planner, she also specialized in installation art, performance, digital media, print, and more. While at Cooper Union, she met her husband and lifetime collaborator Ricardo Scofidio.

Elizabeth Diller became a professor of different architecture schools including the Cooper Union, and Princeton University. She is the founding partner of Diller + Scofidio firm in 1979 that soon became Diller Scofidio + Renfro when they added a third party founder. Together with Ricardo Scofidio, and the firm, they have created notable projects and transformations other than the High Line:  the Lincoln Center’s art campus, The Shed,  expansion of Museum Modern Art, Blur Building Lake Neuchâtel for Swiss Expo, and Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston.

Over the years of her career, although she has not won the Pritzker Architecture Prize she was commended by male architects that have won the said prize, and she received multiple international awards and has been featured in many press websites and magazines,

Annabelle Selldorf


One of the sought after residential architects and the world’s favorite architect, Annabelle Selldorf’s designs are known to understand modern aesthetic and functional settings for art.

Born on July 5, 1960 in Cologne, Germany, she graduated with a B.A in architecture at Pratt Institute in New York, and obtained her Master’s degree at Syracuse University in Florence, Italy. Selldorf is not just an influential female architect but also a mentor and professor. In 1988, she founded her first ever studio, the Selldorf Architects.

The German-born architect has created notable projects together with her team such as cultural arts, residential, commercial and high-end projects. Her other notable projects include, the Sky Garage in New York, 10 Bond Street in New York, Sunset Park Material Recovery Facility in Brooklyn, and expansion of the Frick Collection, the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego.

Not only that Selldorf is known for her photographic influences, but also as a custom furniture designer, the talent in which she inherited from her family that owned a retail furniture business named Vica way back in Cologne, Germany. She then later on incorporated Vica into her launching line which includes furnishings, lightings, and accessories.

Aside from having multiple international awards, Selldorf is also a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 2009, the Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Architectural League of New York; the Design Trust for Public Space and the Chinati Foundation in Texas. She was also a recipient of a Gold Medal of Honor from the American Institute of Architecture New York chapter in 2016.

Anne Tyng

Anne Tyng

Geometry and designs are two combinations that can create spectacular designs. This urban designer has shown the world of architecture the greatness and importance of geometric architecture. She was one of the most underrated and overlooked female architects, whose projects made impact despite the fact that she wasn’t recognized, in her early years, as a female individual architect leader.

Born on July 7, 1920 in Lushan, Jiangxi province, China, Anne Griswold Tyng studied fine arts at Radcliffe College in 1938. Spending her senior year at Cambridge School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, Tyng graduated in 1942, and she went on to earn a Masters Degree in Architecture from Harvard University in 1944, becoming one of the first women to do so. She had several jobs in firms and handled projects after her graduation at Harvard until she met Louis Kahn in 1945, where they worked together and were engaged in a romantic relationship that soon resulted in an offspring, Alexandra.

Combining art and geometry, Anne Tyng pioneered the Space Frame Architecture, and Platonic Solids. These are the type of designs that Using interlocking struts, space frame architecture supports interior areas without visible supports in a geometric pattern. Space frame architecture creates the feeling of inhabiting geometry. This way, the subject or building seems to float. While Platonic Solids mainly tetrahedron, cube, and octahedron are the shapes  Tyng used.  Tyng’s designs and how she conceptualizes space are driven by these shapes. Her work creates an illusion of living inside a geometric space, which envelopes the occupant.

Though Tyng made a very significant role in the world of architecture, it was Kahn that was mostly recognized and acknowledged, leaving her as a mere shadow of her lover. But despite these unfortunate events, Tyng’s dedication towards art and architecture did not falter.

Some of Anne Tyng’s notable projects are Yale University Art Gallery, Tyng Toy (a kit interlocking wooden pieces that can be assembled in different designs), Trenton Bath House, Temple Public Housing Project in 1950, Walworth Tyng House in Cambridge, and many more. Because of her wonderful creations throughout her career, she was at least recognized and received awards of appreciation and became the first woman in architecture to receive a fellowship from the Graham Foundation Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts., next to a fellowship from the American Institute of Architects. She passed away on December 27, 2011.

Florence Knoll

florence knoll

This post-war legend is considered as one of the most influential designers and architects in America. Known as a great furniture architect and interior designer, it was her who introduced the modernist aesthetic to American design during her time with the Knoll Planning Group. A part of her work also involved revamping interiors of workspaces and offices, making them appear sleeker instead of the stuffy, overburdened look that was traditional in the 1940s.

Born as Florence Marguerite Schust on May 24, 1917 in Saginaw, Michigan, Florence was an orphan at a young age. Enrolled by a foster guardian in the Kingswood School in Bloomfield Hills, Eliel Saarinen, the head of the school, was intrigued by Schust’s fascination with campus buildings. The Saarinen family became Schust’s adopted family.

Schust went to Cranbrook Academy of Art for two years and continued her study of architecture at Columbia University, New York, she then pursued her studies at the Architectural Association in London then enrolled at the Armour Institute Chicago (now the Illinois Institute of Technology) to complete her degree in architecture which she obtained on 1941.

Florence worked in several offices after graduation before she landed to Hans Knoll, who founded his modern furniture company, with her suggestion to expand the company into interior designing, she became his interior specialist. In 1946, Florence and Hans got married and she eventually became his business partner. Florence founded the  Knoll Planning Unit, which is responsible for interior designing in the company.

Knoll Associates, Inc., had reached success despite Hans’ death in 1955 in a car accident. Florence Knoll took over the business until she remarried to Harry Hood Bassett and sold her interest in Knoll Associates at Metal Art in 1960.

Florence Marguerite Schust Knoll Basset’s talent in designing has brought pride in the history of America in interior and furniture designing. Some of her notable projects were the Rockefeller Family Offices, her works in the CBS offices in 1960, and some of the biggest American companies and offices such as IBM, GM, and Seagram.

The success of the company she was involved in is all thanks to her solid and dedication in everything she did. She gave life to the post-war offices and interiors. Florence was awarded with different recognition including the first award from American Institute of Decorators in 1954, the AIA Gold Medal for Industrial Design, and a long list of prestigious awards.

Florence Knoll’s introduction of post-war furniture and office interior designs played a huge and historic part in the field of designing and decorations in which history will forever introduce.

7 Modern Female Architects

Below are some of the most successful female architects that are known around the world. They have excelled in the architecture industry not just because of their skills, but also because of their dedication to their works and creative strategies towards modern architecture. They have been part of some notable projects and award-winning buildings. Let’s know more about these seven modern female architects and be inspired by their stories and how they proved that women in architecture are not overrated.

Erica Delak

Erica Delak

Erica Delak, also known as Erica Anne Delak, was aged 46 and was born in August 1975. Erica Delak is a Minnesota native. She is now happily living in Aspen, Colorado, and works as a Senior Project Manager in Charles Cunniffe Architects. Her responsibilities at the firm include generating design drawings, organizing and reviewing drawings with the design team and consultants, overseeing the construction process, and interacting closely with clients and ensuring the success of any project.

She is also involved in some of CCA’s most notable projects such as the Elk Peal Ranch and Willoughby Way. In a high school geometry lesson, she was introduced to the precision and symmetry of line drawing. She worked on a framing crew during her college summer holidays, which helped her comprehend the relationship between architectural plans and actual constructions.

For Erica, working in the architecture field really builds up her confidence. According to her, she was fortunate enough to get involved in projects that got her out in the field even though she’s still in her early career. After graduating from North Dakota University with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Design and a Bachelor of Architecture, she is now living and executing her dream, thirteen years later.

Throughout her career, Erica has had the opportunity to work on a variety of award-winning projects, including custom residential, resorts, and other commercial buildings. She enjoys directing projects from their design until their completion, as she did in her college days when she worked in a design studio and on a construction team. In her today’s work as a Senior Project Manager, Delak likes meeting with contractors and artists on construction sites to solve difficulties and explore different solutions.

Her goal is to recognize everyone’s talents and use them to enhance their projects. Delak said that every client is unique, every day is unique, and each project is unique. She also added that being able to listen attentively to the client’s desires, create a connection, and truly get to know the client that you’re building for, are some of the most crucial traits of an Architect. There are also other things that she’s busy with, aside from being a loving wife, and a mother of two beautiful kids.

She’s also a volunteer with state and local environmental organizations and an Aspen Mother Puckers’ defense player. Delak is also particularly interested in the wellness project, which goes beyond sustainable materials and looks at the interior space of each home that they build and how it affects their clients’ well-being.

Anne Mooney

Anne Mooney

Anne G. Mooney is a female licensed architect and a co-founder slash principal architect of her own architectural firm that bears her name, Sparano+Mooney Architecture. Mooney had no idea that Architecture was a career choice until she enrolled herself in a course at the University of Utah that pushed her to think differently about the natural and constructed environment. She earned a master’s degree in Architecture from the Southern California Institute of Architecture after attending Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture in New York City.

Anne Mooney also works at the College of Architecture + Planning as a Professor of Architecture where she lectures applied research design studios and seminars in modern design theory and professional practice.

Her work has been featured in several exhibitions and publications in North and South America, Europe, and Asia for its research-based conceptual approach to architecture. Community, cultural, and recreation initiatives, sacred sites, and private properties are among her current projects, which are spread across the Western United States. Only a few private residences are designed by Sparano + Mooney each year. They are dedicated to turning their clients’ concept into a legacy home that will stay in their family for generations.

Their architectural firm’s portfolio includes some of the state’s most innovative residences and well-known public spaces. An example of their work is the Emigration Canyon Residence, it’s the first home in Utah to receive a LEED Silver Green certification and was also featured prominently in an edition of Dwell Magazine. Mooney was also awarded by the American Institute of Architects a 2021 AIA Western Mountain Region Silver Medal in Architecture in October 2021, this is the region’s highest distinction, given to a highly acclaimed architect who has contributed significantly to the profession, the institute, and the community, as well as demonstrated impact beyond local borders.

Not only that but she was also nominated by the jury in the 2020 Top Women Architects and was chosen as one of the best practitioners in the Western United States.

Sally Brainerd

Sally Brainerd

Sally Brainerd established RKD ARCHITECTS, INC., together with her husband, Jack Snow and they are currently based in Edwards, Colorado. She is currently the principal architect and vice president of their own firm. She was raised in Denver and grew up with an artistic family, and was expected to follow in their footsteps.

When she was in high school, she discovered that she was good at math, from then on, she planted in herself that she was going to be a female architect. Brainerd eventually put her talents to good use, obtaining a B.A in Mathematics and Philosophy from Wellesley College before studying Architecture at the University of Colorado.

Brainerd used to fantasize about living in the city and designing structures, but as she gained experience, she understood that residential is where it’s at. In the late 1980s, Brainerd and Snow relocated to Edwards and have never looked back. Because of their dedication and hard work, their architectural firm became known for their inventive, mountain-contemporary art homes that blend well with the surroundings.

They create homes for people who are passionate about really one-of-a-kind masterpieces that combine eco-friendly concepts with cutting-edge style. The couple’s main goal is the creation of outstanding architecture.

One of Sally Brainerd’s notable projects is the Valhalla residence in Martis Camp, California. She designed it as a collection of sculptural, interlocking wedges to fully fit into its High Sierra environment. There’s an easy indoor-outdoor flow with walls and windows and patio access from most areas. This masterpiece was created and constructed by an all-female team, composed of a  female architect, general contractor, structural engineer, landscape architect, and a female designer.

Lori Ryker

 Lori Ryker

Lori Ryker was born in Arizona, grew up in Texas, then when she was in her early adult years she moved to New York City and Boston before she drove across Montana and fell in love with the state for its stunning beauty and wilderness. Lori Ryker is the principal and founder of her own architecture firm, StudioRyker. Ryker grew up in a wooded region north of Houston and was fascinated with the idea of houses tucked into the forest since she was little.

She moved to Montana after getting a Master of Architecture degree from Harvard Graduate School of Design and a doctorate from Texas A&M University, where she began designing her own modern interpretations of houses in natural settings. She is attuned to the art and poetry of architecture, and one of the pillars of her design philosophy is sustainability. Ryker enjoys the challenge of working with someone on their personal vision for how they want to live and then figuring out how to connect that vision to the land or landscape.

While responding to the selectivity of place is critical to successful architecture practice, Ryker’s own firm presumes that they must also integrate the vast wealth of global knowledge at their disposal, analyze and appreciate cultural cross-over, and larger environmental conditions that affect the planet, small or large, urban or rural, and wild.

Lori Ryker is also the founder of the non-profit Artemis Institute. Her design work has won national awards and has been featured in national and international publications. Her work has also been recognized by the Graham Foundation, the American Institute of Architects, the State of Montana’s Artist Innovation Award in the Visual Arts, and the National Endowment for Visual Arts.

She also lectures all across the country about architectural design, sustainable design, her own practice and works, and educational philosophy. She taught at a number of universities before being appointed to Montana State University as a tenured professor in 2005. One of her outstanding designs is the Wapiti Residence. It is situated in an exposed and revealing terrain.

The house, the gym, and the guest house were designed to fit in with the surrounding scenery, yet not completely disappear. The architectural forms, tucked amid seasonal drainages, native grass, and sagebrush, are as powerful on the ground as the China Wall itself, Above teak, rammed earth, and steel walls, a butterfly canopy hovers.

Sarah Broughton

Sarah Broughton

Sarah Broughton, a native of Portland, Oregon, obtained a Bachelor of Environmental Design degree in Architecture with honors from the Boulder’s College of Architecture and Planning, University of Colorado. She is one of the women architects who is also a member of the AIA. Broughton is also the founder and principal of Rowland+Broughton in Aspen.

Broughton seemed to have been intended for the architectural profession. Even when she was still a child, she recalls drawing blueprints and having a sense of spatial awareness, and her aptitude for arithmetic made her a good choice for the architecture program.

Broughton and her husband, John Rowland, returned to Colorado in 2003 and created their own firm after working in Australia and New York City. Their firm has studios in Aspen and Denver, and it offers architecture, urban design, and interior design services to a variety of residential and commercial clients. From residences to hotels, office buildings to restaurants, Broughton brings her distinctive passion and energy to every project.

For her, Architecture is a synthesis of contemporary art and daily life. Because of their hard work and great dedication to their works, their firm won AIA Colorado’s 2020 Firm of the Year.  She is also one of the eight women architects who is featured and awarded the 2020 Women in Architecture Awards.

Sarah Broughton has more than two decades of experience in the field of architecture and interior design. She holds licenses as a female architect and an interior designer. She was also designated an Outstanding Woman in Business by Denver Business Journal and received the Defy Ordinary Award from the City of Aspen Chamber and the Aspen community.

Both of these awards highlight Broughton as a community leader and a role model for her coworkers. Broughton also received a Distinguished Alum Award from the University of  Colorado at Boulder’s College of Environmental Design in 2021. One of her outstanding projects is the Lookout.

It boasts a spectacular view of the Elk Mountains. A customized copper pool adds a touch of refinement to the plentiful outdoor living areas, allowing access to the pure Colorado air. The new modern design helped to better connect the home with the sloping land and established a visual and acoustic connection between the two floors by replacing the previous antique house on the site.

Clare Walton

clare walton

Clare Walton, a co-founder and principal architect of Walton Architecture+Engineering, recalls her first architectural project vividly, it was a foam core home model with a pressed-paper terra cotta roof. She then set up a little studio there, using tracing paper, crayons, a triangle, and a T-square to create elevations. She really has the potential of becoming a professional architect in her early days.

Clare Walton has had a lifelong interest in architecture and has traded most of her toys for a Crayola drafting set before graduating from elementary school. She pursued her interest in architecture and graduated magna cum laude from the 3+2 cooperative program between Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York, and the Washington University School of Architecture in St. Louis, Missouri. She spent six months studying architecture in Copenhagen, Denmark through a program linked with Copenhagen University, and six months studying fine art in Bath, England through an Oxford University-affiliated program as part of her college work.

Walton is now a California and Idaho-registered female architect. She is also a licensed residential designer in the state of Nevada.

Walton was enthusiastic about home architecture as well as mountain living. She moved to the Lake Tahoe area as soon as she could afford it after graduating from architecture school. To begin, her firm worked on a range of small projects. Larger projects followed, often from second homeowners with a keen interest in architecture, as a result of her hard work in building strong relationships with her clients.

Long discussions about programs and aesthetic goals begin every new-client appointment. Then there are visits to the construction site to learn about the vistas, trees, sun trajectory, and other key elements. Walton’s goal is to incorporate energy efficiency into every project she works on.

Walton together with her husband, also the co-founder of their firm, Steve Walton, and their two daughters are now living in Tahoe City. Cycling, mountain biking, alpine and Nordic skiing, trail running, and swimming are some of her favorite activities in the mountains. She is also a member of the Tahoe Basin Design Review Committee and served on the Board of Directors of the Tahoe City Downtown Association for two years.

Sara Tiedeken O’ Brien

Sara Tiedeken O' Brien

The 33-year-old Wyoming native, Sarah Tiedeken O’ Brien, earned a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from the University of Oregon before relocating to Colorado in 2011. After graduating and spending nearly a year traveling in Australia, she obtained a job at Vertical Arts Architecture in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, where she has worked ever since.

And in 2019, she was promoted as a partner slash owner, where she wears multiple hats, including, marketing, architectural design, interior design, furniture selection, and landscape architecture concept.

Since joining Vertical Arts in 2011, O’Brien has progressed from entry-level employee to project architect and interior designer and is now the firm’s youngest executive team member. She supervised architectural details and upfront coordination during her time at Vertical Arts, and she became a vital part of the creative interior design process, handling fixed finishes and furnishings. She supervises staff, budget, and scheduling as a team leader.

And now, she will join Vanderbosch, the Vertical Architectures owner, in guiding and directing the future of the architectural firm. She is also in charge of the marketing department at the firm. O’Brien is just getting started. She shies away from the concept of a “signature style” preferring instead to create a “great clash of styles” that truly speaks to that customer. It’s close cooperation aimed at achieving a perfect, personalized fit.

One of O’Brien’s projects is the Perry Park Custom Home in Larkspur, Colorado. She designed the sleek steel and glass-house and its adjacent equestrian facility to perch on a rocky slope in a remarkable marriage structure and surroundings. The home’s handmade Moroccan-patterned screens were laser-cut and are a nod to the homeowner’s heritage.

Outside of work, she is the captain of the Charging Heifers, a local women’s rugby team that has helped clean up the Yampa River and aided the Girls on the Run of Western Colorado. She served as a mentor for a Vertical Arts intern and assessed projects for Colorado Mountain College architecture students.

Final Thought

The architecture field is full of myths meant for men, and though machismo is undeniably strong and dominant, these women proved that talent and passion has no gender, and that a girl can also be an officially licensed female architect. They have transform architecture not only on the same level as men do, but have marked legacies and shaped a spot on history that every female architect will look up to as a bundle of inspiration. There are still more female architect that is underrated and unrecognized in the path they have chosen, but with the help of the female architects listed above, many women are becoming motivated to take architecture in different level–the female way.


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