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OWA Founding Membership at the SF Art Institlute 1973 (photo: Jeremiah Bragstad)

Newsletter | Mar/Apr 2015

Volume 43:2
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If you would like to see corrections to this newsletter or to submit articles or suggestions for future newsletters please contact the Newsletter Editor.

In this issue:
Julia Morgan Tour of Chinatown - Northern California Chapter Society of Architectural Historians
In Memory of Sigrid Lorenzen-Rupp - Uta Lorenzen-Rascon
Sheila Kennedy, 2014 Recipient of the Berkeley-Rupp Prize - adapted by Lucia Bogatay from the Berkeley-Rupp Prize website

The Origins of the Steering Committee

by Lucia Bogatay    |    Share #1023

The following is an article about the thinking behind the organizational system we use for the OWA/DP, and how it came about. This editor actually wrote the article which was published in the January, 1974 issue of the OWA Newsletter. Since this was written before spell check, I have taken the liberty of correcting the spelling. Note that ESCMT is the Engineering Society Committee for Manpower Training.

“The Steering Committee” is familiar to most of our members, but since there is an election this month, we felt this was a good time to explain how it came about, and the reasons for its peculiar design.

Last spring, before elections were held, there was a meeting of people interested in the development of OWA’s government. Like me, they were mostly people with a distrust of “Executive Committees” as they are conventionally formed, and felt that in order to keep our interest in the OWA we might try to design a system that we would be able to enjoy.

We knew, first of all that we needed some kind of organization because of the experiences of Boston’s women’s group as related to us by Dolores Hayden. Her warnings to us last winter made some of the members argue for a leadership as broadly based as possible to make sure it represented a consensus of the membership. Others felt that the offices should be of a specific rather than a ceremonial character; i.e., not “President” or “Sargent-at-Arms.”

So the Steering committee was created with five equal members and five alternates. The five original tasks were Treasurer, Education Coordinator, Publicity coordinator, Employment Coordinator, and Publisher. Members were duly elected and meetings began. We soon discovered the advantages of having the alternates function as regular members. Finally, we added two student members and wrote up the By-Laws in the form approved in December.

The Committee functions very well and so far the original goals have become fact as explained below:

    1. Administrative duties are shared in rotation among the Steering committee members, who occasionally delegate things to others from the general membership. Each Committee member acts as chairman and organizer of one general meeting, arranges for food. Each member generally offers her house for one of the meetings. Each member is editor of the Newsletter for one month. Each member volunteers (hopefully) to take notes at a meeting.
    2. There are always plenty of ideas and all sides of any question are aired, much as at general OWA meetings. Decisions are made, after discussion, by consensus.
    3. Each Committee member has a special on-going project in addition to shared administration. Some of these jobs will probably expand into task forces as OWA gets older. New projects will arise, such our calendar and the board Membership in ESCMT.
    4. No one is really overworked, though many work very hard and each project is potentially time consuming and we all feel that more could be accomplished.

A great deal of help has come from OWA members and our group depends on members contributions to the Newsletter. As more members become ex-members of the Steering Committee, they will surely continue to be helpful.This design can accommodate a large membership. As of this moment the Committee constitutes about one third of the membership. Thus a high proportion of OWA members are deeply involved which should continue to keep it alive and growing.

Julia Morgan and Feminism: Letter to the OWA/DP Editor, April 1974

by Peggy Woodring    |    Share #1024

Responding to a review of the Berkeley lecture by Richard Longstreth in an earlier issue, Ms. Woodring had the following few choice words to say:

Dear OWA,

First, many thanks to all those responsible for the OWA Newsletter. It is not always possible for me to come to meetings, so I depend on the Newsletter to keep me informed.

Second, you may remember the review of Richard Longstreth’s lecture on Julia Morgan in the December issue. I would like to give another view of the Longstreth lecture which I heard at the Heritage Lecture Series in San Francisco.

My suspicions were aroused when Longstreth gave a short biographical sketch which included the following statement, “Julia Morgan was the son of an engineer.” SON! The fact that Julia Morgan’s father was not an engineer should not concern us here. What does concern us is the worldview which is represented in the lecture.

Mr. Longstreth made reference several times in the evening to his notion that Julia Morgan should not be considered interested in Women’s Lib. His insistent allusions that Morgan was not a proponent of feminism must be questioned. In fact, the statement tells us more about Mr. Longstreth than it does about Julia Morgan.

The slide material presented at the lecture said more about Julia Morgan’s interest in women than any amount of rhetoric could. Julia Morgan did buildings, not words.

Many buildings done by Julia Morgan were for women – women as clients, and women as users. Her relationship with women as clients has never been documented to my knowledge, but the clients ranged from women’s clubs, colleges and the YWCA to residences. Her contribution to the communal life style offered to women by the YWCA has never been documented. She did many residences for the YWCA; one can only assume that the users and the clients were pleased with the buildings produced by Julia Morgan.

Julia Morgan interacted well with other women from college presidents to Phoebe Apherson Hearst, from her model-maker to others on her staff. She designed good building, some even great buildings for women and was by all these means supportive of women. Julia Morgan was interested in action. She contributed to women what she could do best.

Judged in this light, Julia Morgan simply cannot be seen as indifferent to feminism.

The pool at Hearst Castle (from the Web)

Julia Morgan Tour of Chinatown

by Northern California Chapter Society of Architectural Historians    |    Share #1031

Julia Morgan finally gets her due from the AIA which is giving her a posthumous Gold Medal. To celebrate, Northern California Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians is giving a tour, led by historian and architect Phil Choi, of Chinatown, specifically of Julia Morgan’s buildings there: the former Chinatown YWCA (now the Chinese Historical Society headquarters) the Gum Moon residence, and the YWCA residence. There are two tours offered. The information and the form (copied from a PDF of the NCCSAH) is below. The Society does not appear to have a website.

Gum Moon House. Photo: Don Andreini

“In observance of the AIA’s posthumous Gold Medal award to Bay Area architect Julia Morgan, in long-overdue recognition of her distinguished career, the NCCSAH will present a two part program of events. The first of these, taking place this spring, will recognize her works in San Francisco’s Chinatown. These are the Chinese YWCA, 965 Clay Street, now home to the Chinese Historical Society of America Museum; the YWCA Residence (940 Powell St.) and the Gum Moon Residence (940 Washington St.). We will view these within the context of a comprehensive tour of Chinatown’s historic architecture. We are pleased that San Francisco- born Philip Choy, who was raised in Chinatown, will lead our program. Mr. Choy, a retired architect and historian, is author of San Francisco Chinatown: A Guide to its History & Architecture (2012). After service during WW II, he earned a degree in architecture at UC Berkeley and in a fifty-year career did residential and commercial design. Mr. Choy has devoted much effort to the cause of researching, preserving and telling the history of Chinese Ameri- cans. In 1969, he co-taught the first college-level Chinese American history course in the nation, at San Francisco State. He vigorously advocated the preservation of Angel Island Immigration Station, the point of entry for thousands of Asians, be- tween 1910 and 1940, and produced the case report that resulted in its designation as a National Historic Landmark (1997). Mr. Choy has served five times as president of Chinese Historical Society of America and served on the San Francisco Landmarks Board and the California State Historical Resources Commission. Awards he has received include the Oscar Lewis Award for Western History (2011).

“We are offering identical programs on two successive Saturdays, May 30 and June 1, in order both to limit each group to a size that can be easily managed in a dense and busy neighborhood and meet what we expect will be a high level of interest. We are grateful to Philip Choy for generously agreeing to lead both tours.

"Morgan - Chinatown Tour Registration
The cost, $35 per person for NCCSAH members, includes an introductory overview by Mr. Choy, beginning at 9:30 a.m., at the CHSA Museum, and an approximately four-hour walking tour with time out for dim sum lunch at City View Restaurant, at 662 Street. A charge of $55 for nonmembers also includes a one-year NCCSAH membership. Driving and parking in and around Chinatown are challenging. We recommend taking public transportation. Muni lines 1, 8X, 10, 12, 30, 45, and the Powell and California Street cable cars all will take you within easy walking distance of our meeting point, at 965 Clay. If you do choose to drive, best choices for parking are the Sutter-Stockton Garage and the garage at Portsmouth Plaza. To register, print the form below and send with a check.

Former YWCA, Chinatown Photos: Don Andrieni

Name _______________________________
Affiliation ____________________________
Address _____________________________
City/State/Zip _________________________
Email address ________________________
Registration: $35 members / $55 nonmembers
Check preferred date:
____ May 30 ____ June 6
Total Enclosed ____________
Please make checks payable to NCCSAH and
mail to:
Ward Hill
NCCSAH Chinatown Tour
3124 Octavia Street, #102
San Francisco, CA 94123
For more information please contact Ward Hill
Nonmember cost also includes one year’s
membership in NCCSAH.
Space is limited; reserve your place now!
An e-mail notice around May 1 will provide registrants
with additional tour information.

Book Review of Gender Intelligence by Barbara Annis and Keith Merron

by Wendy Bertrand    |    Share #1020

Men architects often ask women, What Will You Bring to the Table?
Well now a woman can say I will bring not only my whole self, but my female brain. Barbara Annis and Keith Merron explain the gender intelligence tucked into the male and female brain…how they are different and equally valuable.

Neuroscientists have determined biological sex difference in brain structure, chemistry, and function. Not every female brain or male brain fall perfectly into the gender differences but the tendencies show that 80% are dramatically predictable and different in the ways men and women communicate, listen, solve problems, make decisions, handle emotions, deal with conflict and manage stress.

The authors go on to explain how 7 parts of the brain structure can be used to predict patterns of behavior. They begin with the corpus callosum, the thick bundle of nerves connecting the right and left hemispheres of our brains. It is larger in women than men, has a different shape and contains more nerve fibers that enable women’s thoughts to travel back and forth between the left side (linear, logical and serial thinking) to right side (basis of intuitive, holistic and creative thought). Men use their brains in sequence while women use their brains simultaneously jumping back and forth from right to left. That is why a man is more likely to see one idea and focus on it with few interruptions. He is less likely to tackle other points of view; his thinking is like on a railroad track, switching back and forth is not the norm. While the female brain uses the two sides of the brain in parallel, jumping back and forth considering all sorts of variables and consequences with ease.

Men often get inpatient with women’s approach and may say, “Can we just stick to the point, please? with some anger - while she is thinking of many variables.” “The size of the corpus callosum also enables her to decode the unspoken components of a meeting or exchange, such as body language, tone of voice and facial expression. This is described as context thinking, or an inclusive or interconnected approach.” Other parts discussed are the anterior cortex, insular cortex, hippocampus, amygdala, prefrontal cortex, cerebellum, as well as three hormonal elements.

Chapter after chapter emphasizes the importance of knowing the differences between male and female hard wired behavior because each brings valuable attributes that work well together. Also the erosion of groups that are predominately of men or women.

Annis & Merron claim that businesses that practice gender intelligence (have both men and women at every level, especially the top) do better financially. “Most persuasively for some, companies practicing gender intelligence with the highest financial performance in there important measures: return on equity, return on sales and return on invested capital (page 169). Some of this coming from performance due to neither men nor women feeling forced to fit into a gender behavior that doesn’t fit their comfort level. Being your authentic self has been much more difficult for women because of the male dominance of institutional leadership, rewards, expectations, some of which comes from the how the male brain is hard wired and has build the structures to reward the way they think.

Annis and Merron write that women often are not satisfied when they are pressured to act like a man, their authentic self suffers and they don’t feel comfortable after a while. Since leadership style that is rewarded is most often masculine, women are more aware of this discomfort, while many men, especially successful men at the top think everything is fine. It is much harder for men to have the “aha” moments needed to understand gender intelligence.

There is much to read. Part two gives some history of why gender intelligence is the next evolution, the natural appropriate step considering other contemporary vectors in society. Part three talks about how gender intelligence affects the organization. They describe the five steps for top management to get the message. They insist that conditions need to be created by top management where uniquely masculine and feminine strengths can be blended and utilized to their best effect. If not women don’t feel valued and leave in or before top levels.

There is lots about leadership. I would suggest that architects might suffer from what they term, enlightened denial, a resistance to talk through or even consider gender difference (page 113). The difference between sameness and equality comes up again and again. Often there is a gap between intention and behavior, or a fear of appearing politically incorrect and prejudiced. Many CEOs think they have it down pat and give themselves a 5 rating when they are really only at a one, the starting point.

Part four highlights conditions for success. I have not read all of that yet, but I am seeing my own female brain patterns, and patterns in the men I observe. I am hoping men will embrace some of all this without their competitive nature taking over. I truly believe working together is the best way and look forward to some interesting discussion.

The thrust here is not fairness, but making money which is a little disturbing because there are many areas where gender intelligence is needed where money is not the goal, like producing better architecture, taking care of the planet, care giving, social and political justice, drastic inequality and peace, to name a few that come to mind.

Open not only to OWA members but to anyone (male or female)interested in discussing this book should let Wendy Bertrand (415-648-2713) know as she will announce the Book Circle #11 date and place in April on the OWA website and to you if you call. If your firm would like to host this event please let her know. In the past we have had between 20 and 30 people

In Memory of Sigrid Lorenzen-Rupp

by Uta Lorenzen-Rascon    |    Share #1025

In Sigrid’s own words, "I'd like to be remembered for dissenting when everyone else thought it easier to go with the grain even when the grain was wrong. I'd like to be remembered for being a competent architect who did competent work, a competent painter who did competent painting and someone who told good stories. I've enjoyed almost everything I [did], but nothing is enough and time (life) is too short."

Over 10 years later since her passing and Sigrid is still present in our memories, and I think of her daily. Even more so now that I've started working at UC Berkeley as an academic advisor for undergraduate architecture majors. Every morning I walk up the steps of Wurster Hall and I pass by her name etched on the wall. I remember her as an inspiring, humorous, strong-willed, creative and passionate Aunt that served as a strong role model.

She had an inspiring sense of design and creativity, and always had amazing stories to tell about a far off location she had just returned from. Please take a moment and reflect on Sigrid’s life and work, and perhaps toast a glass of champagne in her honor (Sigrid’s favorite!).

As Sigrid noted in her one of her many travel journals, “Buildings speak for themselves, the people are secondary . . . indeed, as the original builder of Chenonceau pointed out: ‘If I build this – and finish it – I will be remembered,' and so he is, and so he is.” And so she is, and so she is.

Chateau de Chenonceau, Photo from World Castles Wallpaper

The Berkeley-Rupp Architecture Professorship and Prize

by From the UCB website    |    Share #1027

In an effort to foster a holistic approach to architecture and professional practice, Sigrid Lorenzen Rupp created the Berkeley-Rupp Architecture Professorship and Prize. The intent of the Berkeley-Rupp Prize is to give recipients the resources and time necessary for reflection, and to share their knowledge and passion with students of architecture. Ms. Rupp’s generous bequest to UC Berkeley makes possible the Berkeley-Rupp Prize at the College of Environmental Design on the University of California, Berkeley campus.

Ms. Rupp believed that practitioners would benefit greatly from an opportunity to engage in creative and scholarly work away from traditional practice, research and/or teaching. Ms. Rupp was a champion of women’s rights, especially in the profession of architecture, and was a mentor to many women and minorities wanting to succeed in the field. She believed that women bring special values to architecture that emphasize a “triple-bottom-line,” which includes economic, environmental, and social approaches to design and a commitment to sustainability and the community.

Sigrid Rupp was a Palo Alto-based architect. Her fascination with architecture dated back to her childhood in postwar Germany where she witnessed an intensive building boom under way. She later studied architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, where she was mentored by Joseph Esherick, Harold Stump, and Donald Reay. After graduation, she went on to work for several Bay Area firms.

In 1976, Ms. Rupp founded her own firm, SLR Architects, for which she served as president until her death. Some of her significant projects include the Press Building and Storey House at Stanford University; a testing facility for Apple Computer that won an American Institute of Architects (AIA) Honor award; and a factory retrofit and rehab for Raychem Corporation. Her work also included retail stores, offices, private residences, and remodels of older buildings.

Ms. Rupp was a member of the Organization of Women Architects, the AIA, and the Union Internationale des Femmes Architectes (see website at In 1998, the International Archive of Women in Architecture honored Ms. Rupp by including her body of professional work in their collection. See the website

Sheila Kennedy, 2014 Recipient of the Berkeley-Rupp Prize

by adapted by Lucia Bogatay from the Berkeley-Rupp Prize website    |    Share #1029

The faculty position and prize created by Sigrid was awarded last year to Sheila Kennedy, who will be in residence and whose interesting work will be on display.

As a recipient of the Berkeley-Rupp Prize, Sheila Kennedy will present an exhibition of her work along with a public lecture (which was given on March 4th) at the College of Environmental Design. She will also teach a series of interdisciplinary workshops at CED.

On Wednesday, March 4th, Sheila Kennedy gave a public lecture at Wurster Hall Gallery on soft infrastructure including her work on the Portable Light Project—a Matx non-profit design, research and engineering initiative that builds upon the skill sets of women makers in the developing world by integrating clean energy and lighting with textile craft traditions.

From April 8th through April 29th, 2015, in Wurster Hall Room 108, Kennedy hosts the exhibition HERE THERE —Urban Infrastructure Goes Soft, an interdisciplinary design initiative launched at the College of Environmental Design. The HERE THERE exhibit will include recent projects by KVA Matx, and full scale design prototypes by Berkeley students for pop-up solar streetlights, portable vaccine carriers and dispensary kits. New materials, fabrication techniques and project delivery methods for urban infrastructure in energy, global health and water will be explored. See the website

Here work looks fascinating, and I highly recommend visiting the Rupp Prize website ( for a preview of it, which will surely make you want to see the exhibit!

For the Spring 2015 semester, Sheila Kennedy will lead UC Berkeley students in computation, architectural design, engineering, and city planning in a series of hands-on design workshops exploring new urban infrastructure. Using soft materials—from paper to wood to bio-plastic—the group will develop open-source digital fabrication techniques and create adaptable prototypes such as pop-up solar streetlights, soft refrigeration kits for bicycle vendors, and public benches that collect and clean fresh water. These prototypes will be exhibited at UC Berkeley and fabrication kits will be shared with NGOs and the public online.
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