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OWA/AIA Mentoring Group on Walking Tour

Newsletter | Jul/Aug 2014

Volume 42:4
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In this issue:
Julia Morgan's 2014 AIA Gold Medal Conferral - Sandhya Sood and Jean Nilsson, Ed.
July Panel / Discussion on "Aging in Place" - Janet Crane and Patty Haight

Register Now -- Missing 32% Symposium 2014!

by Jean Nilsson, Ed.    |    Share #963

On October 18, 8am-5 pm, the 3rd annual symposium by The Missing 32% Project and AIA San Francisco sponsored by OWA and other local organizations and firms will be held at the San Francisco Art Institute, 800 Chestnut Street, San Francisco.

Many OWA members have participated in the project and its events, and we highly recommend attending this symposium. OWA member Rosa Sheng (a Board of Director for AIA San Francisco and Senior Associate at Bohlin Cywinski Jackson) is the Founding Chairperson for The Missing 32% Project Committee to address the issue of Equity in Architecture. Member Eliza Hart was on the first 2012 Panel.

The project's website describes The Missing 32% Project as "a call to action for both women and men to help realize the goal of equitable practice to advance architecture, sustain the profession and communicate the value of design to society."

The Equity by Design: Knowledge, Discussion, Action! 2014 symposium will include sharing of the data gathered in the recent Equity in Architecture Survey and "learning-by-doing", utilizing the studio environment of the San Francisco Art Institute. Panel discussions will focus on 3 major topics: Hiring & Retention, Growth & Development, and Meaning & Influence, followed by break-out sessions. Participants will choose from among several break-out session options.

•We will hear from thought leaders and then use our design thinking skills to generate creative solutions to challenging practice issues that confront architects, emerging professionals, and firm leadership.

•Our goal is to inspire and empower participants to generate actionable takeaways that will be collected and shared as Equity by Design [EQxD] Best Practice Guides as an open resource to transform the future of the profession. (from the website)

For registration and more information, visit their website
The Missing 32% Project, which is full of information and inspiring stories, such as the following two recent blog posts: No Longer Missing. Pamela Tang's Return to Architecture and How to Advance Women in Architecture? A Chat with Rosa Sheng at BAR Architects. You can also view early results of their Equity in Architecture Survey.

The Missing 32% Committee meets the 3rd Thursday of the month, 12:30-2pm at AIA San Francisco, 130 Sutter Street, Ste 600.

Symposium registration, limited to 250, is already half full and is expected to sell out, so Register Today. Join us at this important event on October 18.

Sept 12-14 Weekend -- 2014 Annual Retreat

by Jean Nilsson, Ed.    |    Share #960

We're lookng forward to enjoying another annual weekend retreat at the beautiful Westerbeke Ranch in Sonoma September 12-14, with a theme this year of "Empowering Improvisation". Participants, please take time to fill out your Questionnaire (in the information packet Janet Crane emailed us) and bring copies for everyone.

Also, please remember to bring back your completed, or in-progress, sketchbooks to share. Last year's 40th anniversary retreat, "Celebrating our Work and Ourselves", was especially memorable as many OWA members presented their own work and professional journeys. Long time member Judy Rowe encouraged us all to continue drawing (hands-eyes-minds) and provided each of us with a lovely sketchbook and pen, as well a thought-provoking article on the role of drawing as a critical part of the thought process of architectural design.

Remembering Architect Mary Laleyan

by Wendy Bertrand    |    Share #968

Architect Mary Laleyan has a super special spot in OWA.

I had just graduated from the Master’s Program at the University of California in 1972 when I met Architect Mary Laleyan. An active member with the San Francisco Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, who had practiced internationally for ten years, she realized many of the problems American women in architecture were facing and that we needed to work on solutions. She had experienced a better working environment in her country of origin, Bulgaria.

Mary Laleyan, Mui Ho, and I joined forces in 1972 to trigger the founding of the Organization of Women Architects. Mary convinced those of us present when we voted on the name at an early meeting in 1973, that the name of the organization should be as women architects, not women in architecture used by some groups.

OWA Booth, AIA Convention 1973 (top) Mary Leyalan (inset)

Due to her connection to SFAIA President Howard Friedman, OWA was offered a booth, at no cost, at the 1973 AIA National Convention, and she was influential in getting the first big article about our organization into the San Francisco Chronicle (May 8, 1973), "Women Architects in the Flesh", just months after our founding (article saved in our OWA June 1973 Newsletter by editor Mui Ho). Mary was super active at the national level of the AIA and, thus, after several years grew less active in OWA.

I hold great respect and kind memories from knowing and working with her. I tried to link up with her a few years ago, but I am sorry it didn't work out; I wanted to know her perspective on the situation of women in the profession. I recently learned that she died on January 21, 2014.

Mary's archive is part of the International Archive of Women Architects at Virginia Tech. I edit here from IAWA website's biographical notes:

"Marie-Louise Laleyan (1935-2014) was a San Francisco based architect with 48 years of experience including 30 years as principal of Laleyan Architects (1977-2007), formally Laleyan Associates.

"Born and educated in Bulgaria, Laleyan arrived in the United States in 1964. Laleyan has practiced architecture in Sofia, Bulgaria; Paris, France; and the United States. Before establishing her own practice she worked with the following firms: Hart & Turner Architects (Sacramento, CA), Richard Neutra (Los Angeles, CA), and the San Francisco, CA firms of Claude Oakland and Associates, Anshen & Allen, Mario J. Ciamp, FAIA, and Paffard Keatinge Clay.

"An active member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) she has served on the Northern California Chapter's Board of Directors, as co-chairperson of the national AIA Task Force of Women in Architecture, and coauthor of the AIA Affirmative Action Plan. Besides her instrumental work getting OWA started, she represented the interests of women architects at numerous conferences and seminars. Mary cared for her parents who lived with her in San Francisco for many years. She never married.

"The establishment of Laleyan Associates in 1977 was the culmination of a lifelong career intention and in her words a 'family tradition.' Laleyan was committed to keeping the firm small so that she would be able to provide quality service and personal attention to each project and client. In 2001, Laleyan began providing Physical Needs Assessments (PNA) and Construction Monitoring services for the California Housing Finance Agency (CHFA), a state housing acquisition lender to non-profit and for profit developers. She was highly respected in the field of affordable housing.

"Projects undertaken by Laleyan Architects included light commercial, medical, institutional, residential, and public buildings with construction costs ranging from $25,000-3.4 million. She generously helped many public non-profit organizations with their projects."

Julia Morgan's 2014 AIA Gold Medal Conferral

by Sandhya Sood and Jean Nilsson, Ed.    |    Share #967

Sandhya Sood's Tribute to Julia Morgan

OWA member and Principal of Accent Architecture+Design, Sandhya Sood, AIA, a member of Julia Morgan's AIA Gold Medal nomination team, was invited by the AIA California Council to write a tribute to Julia Morgan, FAIA, at the occasion of her AIA Gold Medal Conferral at the 2014 AIA national convention in Chicago on June 28. Sandhya's interview and insights on Julia Morgan's work were also featured in the video Celebrating Morgan's Enduring Legacy.

In her tribute "Julia Morgan, FAIA: California's Gold", Sandhya writes, "Morgan focused on climate responsive design, material conditions and spatial efficiency. In her mind, this approach could facilitate essential qualities that make buildings work, adapt and endure. . . By incorporating passive design, Morgan created sustainable spaces that benefit human lives through wellness, good indoor environmental quality and adaptability to changes in use."

I especially appreciated Sandhya's concluding remarks that "Modest, quiet, unassuming women do not make history, they say. And now, as the first woman to receive the AIA Gold Medal Award, Morgan (1872-1957) has once again shattered a barrier, welcoming others of her kind to follow suit."

Beverly Willis: "I Express Our Collective and Respectful Anger. . . I Express our Collective Joy"

by Jean Nilsson, Ed.    |    Share #966

At the AIA's 2014 annual convention in Chicago, Architect Beverly Willis spoke out to remind us of the AIA's history with women architects while also graciously acknowledging its posthumous honoring of Julia Morgan, "Would you believe that as recently as 1978, the President of AIA declared to the press that he would never hire a woman architect?...

It would not be until 1988, thirty-one years later [after Morgan's death], that Sara Holmes Boutelle, an architectural historian, would write the first monograph on Morgan's work. We women, who graduated in the '50s, '60s, '70s and '80s, were denied a phenomenal role model, of an incredible designer and successful practitioner."

And Willis' closing remarks: "On behalf of these women practitioners, I express our collective, and respectful, anger. Historically important women designers are still not in the history books. But at this moment - on this day - in the history of the AIA, I express our collective joy."

Beverly Willis worked as an architect for many years in San Francisco and now heads the Beverly Willis Architectural Foundation in New York CIty. See her BWAF website for full text of Beverly Willis' speech.

Julia Morgan Facts from AIA:
2014 Julia Morgan is the 70th AIA Gold Medalist.
1921 Julia Morgan joined the AIA, becoming its 7th woman member.
1904 Julia Morgan became the first women licensed to practice architecture in California and opened her own firm.

For the past year, I have been a mentor with OWA's mentoring program, which I find an exhilarating and rewarding experience. Last summer, I was matched up with two young OWA members, and a third joined our group after the retreat in September. As our mentoring group began our second year together, we added new members from the AIA mentorship program, an ongoing program at the SF chapter, on which the OWA mentoring program is patterned.

Our group is a dynamic mix of AIA and OWA members, within the two mentorship programs. It seemed a natural progression for our group, since several members, including myself, are members of both the AIA and OWA. Our mentoring group meets once a month for a design-related event or activity.

We take turns to identify the next month's event - it may be a gallery show, a museum exhibition we'd like to see, or perhaps a walking tour. Following the event, we find a café nearby to talk about what we saw and discuss work/life issues. We all contribute to the discussion, providing a sounding board and support within a respectful confidential environment.

Visit to "Tilted Plane"

One of my favorite mentoring events in 2013 was our visit to a lighting installation by the artist, Jim Campbell at the Hosfelt Gallery in the city. The exhibit was titled "Tilted Plane" - an entirely black room with rows of single light bulbs hanging from the ceiling on black cords. The lengths of the cords varied across the room, to create an illusion of a diminished perspective, a tilted ceiling plane. We were able to walk between the rows to experience the change in perspective as the ceiling plane changed.

This past May, our group met up at the Berkeley Heritage Alliance's Bernard Maybeck walking tour, for a fascinating look inside homes along Maybeck's Rose Walk development in the Berkeley hills.

The OWA organization has been a source of inspiration, support, and friendship over the years that I have been an OWA member since the late 1980's. So it seems appropriate to support the future of the OWA, by participating in the mentoring program. I believe we long-time OWA members are each responsible for doing what we can to help the next generation of design professionals succeed.

If you choose to participate, there is much to gain as a mentor. You will enjoy the exuberance of OWA's mentees, while staying current with the latest local design trends and local events. I can attest to the value that we mentors gain from our younger colleagues; participating as a mentor in the mentoring program continues to be an inspiring, exhilarating, and rewarding experience.

July Panel / Discussion on "Aging in Place"

by Janet Crane and Patty Haight    |    Share #961

Our July event, a well attended panel discussion, focused on three aspects of aging in place and led to a lively group discussion. The meeting began with three excellent speakers addressing aspects of Aging in Place from the perspective of how communities can support this concept and how families and individuals can address its realities.

Jacqueline Zimmer Jones, Executive Director of NEXT Village San Francisco, introduced the concept of Villages, a national grassroots movement of neighborhood networks designed to enable seniors to age in their communities by offering engagement, connection and support. Next Village, based in northeast San Francisco, has been growing for about 4 years. Jacqueline underscored the benefits of NEXT Village, in reducing isolation, encouraging social interaction, and offering volunteer assistance when requested, for such tasks as getting to appointments, grocery shopping and attending NEXT's social and informative events. A neighbor within a few blocks' radius can take care of an errand and there is really no other service with this kind of flexibility.

The Villages are membership organizations. NEXT has received a grant from the City of San Francisco to encourage self-help models for the rapidly increasing senior demographic that doesn't qualify for services as low-income residents. NEXT Village's web site is

Janice Wallace is a consultant, "The Caregivers Coach", who helps families organize and manage the care of seniors who need assistance with their daily lives, including those with dementia. She talked about the stages of addressing the challenges of aging, getting realistic about the aging process, discussing it with affected family members over time, even in advance of need, and planning for the appropriate care. She stressed the all-important topic of avoiding burnout for caregivers, noting that it is impossible to do everything for a loved one with no respite. Her web site is

Architect Janet Crane discussed housing options for seniors facing the challenges of Bay Area housing: empty nest houses, expensive rentals, buildings on steep hills and with many stairs, rental units where Landlords are not amenable to adding features to help seniors. Janet touched on the simple improvements that anyone can make for safety; but at a certain point, moving may be necessary to smaller homes, special models like co-housing or senior housing of various models. There are a number of housing options developing, with the help of internet communication, such as shared housing. Groups are forming to brainstorm housing options for those looking for alternatives such as TTN Home, an East Bay group run by The Transition Network. San Francisco's Community Land Trust is looking at buying residential properties with generally low-income tenants to provide a way to maintain affordable rentals.

A lively discussion followed - showing that everyone has stories and experiences relevant to this topic - and a follow-up meeting will be proposed. Some exciting connections also resulted from the mix of attendees and presenters. Ricardo Gomes, Professor in the Design & Industry Department at SF State University, who attended, now plans to meet with Jacqueline Zimmer to collaborate on related projects for his class.

Many thanks to Andrea Lucas's husband, Tobin Kendrick, a partner at Gelfand Associates, for hosting the meeting at their very interesting office housed in the historic James Lick Bath House, a former community bathhouse south of Market. Tobin also generously offered us a tour of the space at the end of the evening.

Thanks to member Janet Crane for organizing the topic and speakers, and thanks to our Steering Committee Events Coordinators Patty Haight and Carolyn Orazi for coordinating all of our excellent events this year. ~Ed.

Brief Update from the Steering Committee

by Jean Nilsson, Ed.    |    Share #962

2014 Steering Committee

The Steering Committee has been working on a variety of fronts in addition to this year's events, which happily, we find have all been well attended and enjoyed. For next year, we are considering adding a series of informal gatherings to compliment the presentations and tours. Please feel free to contact any Steering Committee member with your thoughts or questions (click on our photo here to go to the Jan/Feb issue in which we introduced ourselves).

Among our PR efforts to make our organization more visible and helpful to women in design professions, we are continuing with plans to update our logo and website, which we will discuss at the annual business meeting in October, and discussing initiating a blog instead of, or in addition to, our bi-monthly newsletter.

We continue our connections with the AIA, particularly joining efforts with SFAIA's Missing 32% and Mentorship Committees, whose concerns and members overlap those of two of our "pods" (does anyone have a better term than "pod"?) See articles in this newsletter on Mentorship groups and the upcoming "Missing 32%" Symposium, which we again are sponsoring.

Membership renewals, however, are down this year, partly due to less need for the health insurance long-offered as one of our membership benefits. PLEASE RENEW to support our group's mission and goals!

Naomi Horowitz launches nih architecture

by Naomi Horowitz    |    Share #964

OWA member Naomi Horowitz is pleased to announce the launch of her new architecture practice. nlh architecture will be focused on smaller projects in the Bay Area, including residential remodel and commercial tenant improvements. I am also happy to team up with other firms and take on partial scope for larger projects, including predesign services. Let me know if I can help!

Lian Eoyang Wins Marvin "Architects Challenge"

by Jean Nilsson, Ed.    |    Share #965

Eoyang's Entry

Lian Eoyang, Associate AIA and Principal of San Francisco-based design firm VIFStudio, won the Marvin Windows and Doors Architects Challenge 2014 Showdown for her "Summer Cottage", receiving the most public votes of the 150 entrants.
The winning two-story home, featuring hand-cut fieldstone and Marvin windows and doors that provide 180-degree panoramas of the Boston harbor and skyline, replaced a dilapidated hillside cottage. Eoyang will receive a trip to the 2015 Reinvention Symposium in Washington D.C., a high level design conference for housing professionals produced by Residential Architect magazine.

Sculptor Looks to Women's Groups

by Jean Nilsson, Ed.    |    Share #970

Nigel Binns, sculptor of the 1996 Mother of Humanity bronze statue in LA and President of Nijart International, recently wrote to us about an architectural project she envisions in Africa, an observation tower and mixed-use building based on her Mother of Humanity theme. She is looking to members of women's groups for support for establishing a non-profit organization and assistance creating preliminary designs and renderings. For more information, contact Nigel at or visit her website:
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