Newsletter | Jul/Aug 2003Volume 31:4 | Search
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Editor's Noteby Mui Ho | Print | Email
Starting January 2004 we will be sending our Newsletter to all our members through e-mail to ensure that programs and news reach our members on time. You will also still be getting our Newsletter in paper form.
Please e mail our Administrative Assistant Tara Lane your e-mail address as soon as you can. We would like to have all our members' data put into our master roster to be completed by the end of this August 2003. Tara's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
OWA Program - Tour of Berkeley Central LibraryPrint | Email
Date: Tuesday 19 August 2003
Place: Berkeley Central Library, 2090 Kittredge, Berkeley (corner of Kittredge & Shattuck and one block from Berkeley Bart Station.)
The tour will be guided by architect Cynthia Ripley. This project involved renovation and expansion of the 1931 library from 30,000sf to 100,000sf. The historic reading room, reference room and children's library were realized in their historic brilliance with new lighting, painted ceiling and restored woodwork. The reading room is 45 feet high with four-story windows that allow the lighted library to be a major feature on an important downtown corner. The new addition provides a new entry, reading and study area with electronic technologies, offices and public meeting rooms. The new design respects the original structure by stepping back, utilizing similar materials and observing the rhythms and proportions of the original building. In addition to increasing the shelf capacity by 40%, the library have increase capacity of their classroom and meeting rooms.
Anniversary Ecuador Tripby Mui Ho | Print | Email
Ten of us just returned from our delightful Ecuador trip organized by Gilda Puente-Peters and Marda Stothers. The pace of this trip was leisurely fluid and we managed to covered quite a bit. Gilda had arranged for us to stay at interesting places like old colonial mansions or Haciendas made into boutique hotels. In Quito we stayed at Hostel Santa Barbara and Hotel La Rabida - both have beautifully furnished public parlors and courtyards.
Ecuador is very mountainous with deep gorges, waterfalls and volcanoes. What impressed me most was how people built their houses and farms on steep slopes. In Quito, most housing is built on hillsides with wonderful views and the Indian farmers farm their land on a 45 degree slope.
One of the highlights of our trip was the visit to Marcello's ranch. Marcello is an old friend of Gilda's. He left his architectural practice to become a gentleman rancher. He has cows to produce milk and green houses to produce roses. To our surprise, he ships his roses weekly to Russia via Amsterdam. To get to his ranch was quite an experience. We had to drive on a narrow rugged twisty dirt road for miles. It did cross our mind that we might not get there! But we did and it was worth every penny of it, because the hacienda was quite special. I particularly loved the forlorn garden with lovely untended trees and flowers - very romantic as if I had walked into another century.
Another highlight for me was meeting Gilda's family and friends and spending time with them. They showed me how close families and friends are in Ecuador. It made all of us very envious. Everyone we met on our trip was kind, warm and gentle.
The group will be presenting their Ecuador trip in our coming September Retreat.
History of the OWAby Inge Horten | Print | Email
Presentation on the History of OWA at The Colegio de Arquitectos in Quito, Ecuador
26 June 2003
In the early 1970's, the Women's Movement in the United States gained momentum and helped women to become aware of their unequal status in society and pursue change. Women's studies courses at universities, popular magazines like Gloria Steinem's Ms. for Women, and demonstrations for equal rights all caused women to question the validity of male role models and rules in society and to demand equality.
The unequal situation of women in the male-dominated field of architecture was brought to light in a long and well-researched article by Ellen Perry Berkeley in the respected architectural magazine, Architectural Forum, in September 1972. The article gave many examples of overt and covert discrimination of women in architecture, landscape architecture and planning, most noticeable in lower pay and less opportunity for promotion than for men. Encouraged by the examples of other women's professional organizations around the country, women architects started to get together in support of each other and to overcome their second-class professional status.
In California, some 12 women architects, among them Mui Ho, began informal gatherings in November of 1972 to discuss their experiences at the university and in the workplace. Initially, one-page information sheets, then newsletters, were mailed to potential members announcing the meetings. Among the first speakers was Dolores Hayden, who shared her experience of founding a similar organization for Boston women architects.
Members called the group the Organization of Women Architects and developed an organizational structure, drafted by-laws and became incorporated in 1973. Influenced by the women's movement and its emphasis on equality, they chose a horizontal structure. The traditional hierarchical organizational structure of a president, vice president, secretary and treasurer was replaced with a steering committee working cooperatively and making decisions by consensus. The five areas of shared responsibility were Public Relations, Education, Employment, Finance and Newsletter Production. They were originally assigned to two women each with overlapping two-year terms.
The goal of OWA is to support women as a whole person and not only their careers. We scheduled meetings with presentations about our own work or other women architects' work, job-sharing, flexible work schedules, and childcare. We organized seminars to review our portfolios necessary for job interviews and to improve our public speaking skills. We arranged financial seminars to learn about money management and health seminars to educate ourselves about women's health and occupational hazards. We also organized field trips to recently completed buildings as well as to construction sites. Many members found new and often better jobs through the OWA job referral service.
Our programs vary with the interests and talents of the Steering Committee members. In the mid-eighties, OWA gained much publicity with its House Tours which showcased buildings and landscapes designed by women. The tours were a huge success as people love to visit private homes and gain ideas for their own places.
Another important program is the annual weekend retreat at a lovely ranch in the wine country north of San Francisco. Marda Stothers initiated it in 1988 for women in mid-career but it is now valued by all members as a time for renewing friendships, relaxation, reflection and learning about personal and professional issues.
Besides providing opportunity for lifelong friendships and career support OWA has created many important programs and actions for the benefit of architects and design professionals in general, not only women. For example, one of our outstanding contributions was the development of the Mock Exam intended to prepare and train young architects for the difficult California State licensing exam. The mock exam was so successful that OWA sold it after some years to the American Institute of Architects.
Another significant contribution is providing health insurance to uninsured professionals. In 1976, after lengthy investigations, Janet Crane set up a health plan for OWA members. Making it available to all architects and designers in small offices and unemployed architects is a great service to the community because affordable health insurance is not easily available in the United States.
OWA cooperated with many other organizations and institutions and, for example, was instrumental in establishing a new umbrella organization in California which joined forces with several existing women architects' organizations. The goals of this group, called California Women in Environmental Design, were to lobby governmental agencies and provide designing women with public exposure through outstanding statewide conferences and exhibitions of their work. One of the achievements was the development of a new set of design evaluation criteria based on environmental and human values.
Naturally, over the years, OWA grew into a mature organization with a membership ranging from students to active practitioners and retired professionals. In response to a changing society and architectural practice, OWA varies the services it offers to its members. OWA proudly looks back on its 30 years of successfully promoting and furthering women in architecture and related design professions and confidently looks forward to many more years of active involvement in issues concerning women's advancement in design.
The OWA Symposium - Toward an Engaged ArchitecturePrint | Email
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