Vivian Lee, FAIA, LEED AP
Rosalind Tsang, AIA, LEED AP BD+C
Kavyashri Cherala, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP BD+CMedia Communication
Arielle Lapp, AIAMedia Communication
Vasudha Mittal, LEED AP BD+CMedia Communication
Angelique PierreAdvisory Board
Kerry Nolan, AIAAdvisory Board
Sara Ngan, AIA, LEED APAdvisory Board
August 25, 2023
On the 16th of August, the AIA New York Women in Architecture Committee, in collaboration with AIA New York and nycoba | NOMA hosted a roundtable on Reinforcing Safe and Equitable Practice dedicated to highlighting resources and strategies towards attaining a positive workplace culture while acknowledging the persistent challenges women and minorities continue to face in our industry. The event was facilitated by Kavitha Mathew, AIA, Founder of Equity Co:LAB.
The attendees responded to the prompt questions prepared by Mathew from three scenarios provided in the AIA Guides for Equitable Practice & Workplace Culture and voiced their own experiences and opinions, measured against the women in the case studies who confronted poignant and disconcerting situations in their workplace. Case studies included “The profession has no room for me,” “Managing cultural expectations,” and “He touched me.” The scenarios challenged us to think about the architectural profession and how certain workplace cultures and values may support and foster systemic injustices. The conversation focused on helping cultivate a healthy, inclusive and equitable workplace culture on matters ranging from training and compliance to mentorship, allyship and fostering trust.
The support resources included a list of AIA workplace guidelines, code of ethics and professional conduct policies, information on HR and mental health issues, training platforms, contacts for mentorship and legal counsel, as well as reporting and complaint forms from AIA, New York City, and New York State.
You can find a compiled list of resources you can share with your peers and colleagues in the industry here.
Dr. Mahtab Moaveni, Psy.D. from the Thriving Center of Psychology, also shared her insights on her consulting services addressing cultural issues, racial trauma, depression, and trauma. Please join us at our monthly meetings, send us an email, or reach out on social media with any thoughts and feedback.
August 2, 2023
The AIANY WIA Committee hosted an incredible event at A’23 in San Francisco, sold out with 250+ attendees on June 9, 2023. A’23 Equity for Women in Architecture: A Coast-to-Coast-Exchange brought together Women in Architecture (WIA), Women in Design (WID), and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Committees from across the country to share their most effective programs and initiatives supporting women’s advancement in the profession. We were thrilled to have AIANY 2023 President Matthew Bremer, AIA, AIANY President-Elect Gregory Switzer, AIA, and AIANY Interim Executive Director Jesse Lazar join us!
The program kicked off with an introduction by AIA New York Women in Architecture Committee Co-Chair Vivian Lee, FAIA, who presented the history of the WIA Design Practice Exchange (DPE) and key statistics of female representation in architecture. The WIA DPE started in 2016 with 2 NYC firms’ women’s groups meeting in their board rooms to exchange resources and ideas for how to advance and support women in the profession. Since then, this grew into multiple DPEs between AIA Chapter WIA groups including New York, Minnesota, New Orleans, Austin, Miami, and New Jersey! We were reminded of the sobering statistics that women have remained around 25% of AIA Membership for a number of years, while FAIA female representation is at 18%. We have much work to do to achieve gender parity in our profession.
Following the introduction, presentations from AIA San Francisco Equity by Design Past Chair Rosa Sheng, FAIA; the Boston Society of Architecture 2020 BSA/AIA President Natasha Espada, AIA; and AIA New York Women in Architecture Committee Co-Chair Vivian Lee, FAIA, shared their chapter’s initiatives, programs, and events to promote, elevate, and advance women in architecture. Jenna Knudsen, AIA, from AIA Los Angeles Women in Architecture Committee, moderated a thoughtful dialogue, ‘Leading by Example: A Conversation on Equity,’ with insightful and valuable advice from the presenters. One key topic discussed was the perception that Women in Architecture groups are inherently exclusive. The presenters highlighted the importance of men as allies, sponsors, and mentors of women in helping to close the gender gap and barriers toward senior leadership and design roles. By working together, we can achieve greater inclusivity and diversity in our firms.
The program’s second half was a Roundtable Workshop with Co-Chairs and representatives from twenty-five (25) AIA chapters across the country as Table Leaders who facilitated a conversation about the most impactful strategies for supporting women’s advancement in the profession. The participants ranged from firm leaders, AIA leaders, practitioners, the academy, students, and more, all having a voice to contribute ideas and solutions toward more equitable and inclusive workplaces. Each table exchanged information, resources, and best practices to lay the groundwork for chapter programs and events to promote and elevate women in design and leadership roles. They also shared their experiences and initiatives on what they are doing within their organizations to advance women in the field. Ideas, comments, and suggestions were recorded under the four (4) WIA pillars: 1) Design & Leadership, 2) Professional Practice & Development, 3) Workplace Culture, and 4) Advocacy & Activism. We successfully generated over 100 thoughtful and original ideas to address issues impacting women under these pillars. We concluded the program with each Table Facilitator sharing their best-proposed solutions with the audience, crediting the idea’s originator within the group. The Facilitators were inspiring and passionate, reflecting the palpable energy in the room. Here are some of our favorite takeaways from the exchange:
Design & Leadership
- Provide leadership training programs;
- Recruit women and create intentional leadership opportunities;
- Encourage early participation in firm leadership from incoming practitioners.
Professional Practice & Development
- Research EDI metrics to create EDI policies ensuring equity in salary, promotions, opportunities
and access to resources and support;
- Practice transparency of EDI policies;
- Provide firm mentorship programs.
- Provide schedule flexibility without shame;
- Walk out on toxicity! Don’t work for employers or clients that persistently demonstrate lack of respect for your contributions, personal and professional boundaries.
- Curate team building exercises centered around shared interests in literature, arts, physical activities, mental fitness & food.
Advocacy & Activism
- Become active in local government, boards, and EDI policy-making bodies;
- Publicly recognize the accomplishments and ideas of others;
- Speak up! Advocate for a more enjoyable workplace when observing exclusive or unconscious bias by calling out bias.
You can view each table’s recommendations here. We are optimistic that the groundwork laid in presenting these ideas, taking them with us beyond the A’23 Exchange into our firms and workplaces, and taking them to our industry leaders will lead to the change we want to see. Thank you to everyone who attended and contributed to this successful event. A special thanks to the A’23 Coast to Coast steering committee, presenters, and roundtable facilitators for their hard work, handling all the logistics, communications, and behind-the-scenes preparation. We look forward to seeing you at our upcoming AIANY WIA events and in Boston at the AIA WLS on September 12-14, 2023!
July 24, 2023
Recent news has again brought to light the persistent challenges that women continue to face in our industry. AIA New York acknowledges that these news items serve as painful and traumatic reminders of experiences that many members of our community have been subjected to in their lives and careers.
As a professional organization, we are unwavering in our commitment to fostering equitable practices and upholding the highest ethical standards in all aspects of our operations and activities. Our paramount objective is to champion equity, diversity, inclusion, and cultural awareness within our profession, recognizing that these values are essential to cultivating a more cohesive community and enhancing our professional environments.
Our chapter, alongside the AIANY Women in Architecture Committee, would like to share relevant AIA resources that reinforce these principles, with the goal of ensuring the collective growth and success of all individuals:
- AIA Non-Discrimination, Anti-Harassment, and Complaint Policy
- AIA Guides for Equitable Practice & Workplace Culture
- AIA Women’s Leadership Summit
AIANY Women in Architecture is also planning to hold a forum in the coming weeks to facilitate inclusive discussions that highlight pertinent issues and support our peers and colleagues.
We are here to listen and welcome your thoughts and insights as we work together to improve our profession and culture.
June 3, 2023
Date & Time: June 9, 2023 @ 3:00 pm
Location: San Francisco, Moscone South, Room 304
Event Code: EV320
What are the most impactful strategies for supporting women’s advancement in the profession?
Women in Architecture (WIA), Women in Design (WID), and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Committees from across the country will share their experiences and initiatives on what they are doing within their organizations to advance women in the field at the A’23 AIA Conference in San Francisco.
This exchange of information, resources, and best practices will lay the groundwork to promote and elevate women in design and leadership roles. AIA New York, San Francisco, and Boston Society of Architecture will present their chapters’ most effective programs focused on four pillars: design and leadership, workplace culture, professional practice and development, and advocacy and activism. Following the presentation and a panel discussion, 20 WIA/WID/EDI committees will facilitate a roundtable workshop to determine the top takeaways and share the feedback with the participants.
June 2, 2023
To highlight women leadership and designers in small, medium, large, and extra-large firms in New York, AIANY WIA organized four firm tours on May 18, 2023, and visited Andrea Steele Architecture (ASA), MARVEL, Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R), and SOM. We are grateful to each firm for their generosity in hosting this event and showcasing their office and work. They presented extraordinary projects that contributed to the built environment and shared their initiatives to champion equity in their practice.
Andrea Steele Architecture (ASA)
Andrea Steele and her diverse community of practitioners welcomed WIA members into their Chelsea office to learn more about their unique approach to the firm’s many mission-driven projects. The Chelsea office is home to roughly 15 practitioners, including Andrea, in an open studio that is alive with beautifully crafted models and carefully considered materials. Andrea shared the process outline she and her team use to learn what is at the heart of each project’s objectives and how the ASA team can help clients to unlock more from their projects than originally imagined. With the help of Dichen Ding and Xinyang Chen, Andrea used the NASA Glenn Research Center, Casita, and Make the Road New York projects as examples to demonstrate how centering the end user in the design process translates to beautiful buildings that foster profound connections and community. Following the process-centered project presentations, the ASA team opened the office for drinks and conversations about the details of the projects, models, and materials in the works as well as managed to stay connected as a team while working mostly remotely.
MARVEL partners Lissa So and Annya Ramirez explained that 56% of the 160-people firm are women, and women leadership in the director’s position make up 50%. They foster a hands-on design culture and collaborative work environment and even offer a chef-prepared lunch for all the team members at their 7 Lispenard storefront location every Wednesday! Their biophilic office at 145 Hudson is filled with beautiful models that exude design and creativity. Jennifer Olson and Elisa Testa presented the design of Uris Hall, a complete renovation from an existing Business Building at Columbia University to a lively, light-filled Arts and Science Building. Sharon Kim and Emily Richardson talked about how empowering it is to work with an all-women team, including the client, consultants, and a large women construction crew, for the KIPP: NYC school, while Annya Ramirez and Carolina Cohen displayed their design passion on the prominent new entrance for the Bronx Museum Visitors Wing. Ishita Gaur showcased MARVEL’s planning process for Pier 107. Sami Sikanas and Yang Zhao wrapped up the firm presentation with their ongoing renovation design for the Norris and Pennyback Park Playgrounds. MARVEL hosted a lively reception at 7 Lispenard and even celebrated a birthday with a delicious chocolate cake! Joining us were Siete and Nueve, two friendly rescue cats, MARVEL’s permanent in-house guardians.
Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R)
DS+R was represented by women architects at every level of experience, several of whom started out as fresh graduates and grew within the firm. The evening was kicked off by co-founder and Partner Elizabeth Diller, who spoke about DS+R’s history and growth from a 12-person to a 100+ person firm. Associate Principal Zoe Small talked about the firm’s design ethos and project types comprising various disciplines, scales, and formats. Associate Principal Holly Deichmann and Associates Anahit Hayrapetyan, Bo Liu, and Katrina Collins discussed the firm’s culture and horizontal structure, enabling every team member to have a voice and a seat at the table. Furthermore, they introduced their internal mentorship program focusing on cross-pollination and encouraged attendees to identify mentors. Kaitlin Faherty, Anahit Hayrapetyan, Magdalena Sadykov, and Holly Deichmann then presented selected upcoming confidential projects, reflecting DS+R’s emphasis on excellence and innovation in design, engineering, adaptive reuse, accessibility, and community involvement. The evening continued with a tour of the office led by Rocio Brizzio, Maya Shopova, Susana Holguin-Veras, and Ana Goga. The tour was a journey through design and construction models placed around the office; including the notable High Line, Columbia University Vagelos Education Center, and Broad Museum; demonstrating the meaningful impact DS+R has made on the built environment. The horizontal structure of the firm was reflected in the fact that the Partners did not sit in enclosed offices. The evening concluded with stimulating conversations accompanied by drinks.
SOM welcomed WIA members into their new office at 7 World Trade, a building designed by SOM. Marisol Brito kicked off the evening, welcoming our visitors into their office forum space, a double-height space where SOM schedules many events. She introduced SOM Partner Carrie Moore, who spoke about SOM’s culture and its wide range of Employee Resource Groups, which include the Asian Alliance, SOM NOMA, the Women’s Initiative, SOM Pride, and SOM Arquitectos. Ellen Abraham talked about SOM’s Equity Design Lab, which keeps the firm accountable with the equity toolkit, a way of tracking the firm’s efforts and measuring progress on equity. Associate Principal Amy Garlock and Principal Yasemin Kologlu presented their projects, the restoration and renovation of the Lever House and Urban Sequoia, respectively. The Lever House project is unique in that SOM also designed the original building. Urban Sequoia is a carbon-absorbing building and showcased SOM’s efforts in materials research. Marti Gottsch ended the evening by giving the WIA group a tour through the firm’s two floors at 7 World Trade Center, focusing on the collaborative spaces located at the office’s perimeter. The tour went through SOM’s model gallery, which along with many of SOM’s famous buildings, included a rainbow tower that was built for Jonathan Van Ness of Queer Eye. Jonathan visited the office when he featured SOM on his show, Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness.
Thu, 9/21, 2023, 6:30pm
Thu, 10/19, 2023, 6:30pm
Thu, 11/16, 2023, 6:30pm
Mon, 9/18/23, 6:30pm
Wed, 8/16/23, 6:30pm
Thu, 5/18/23, 6:30pm
Wed, 5/10/23, 6:30pm
Sat, 4/29/23, 9:00am