The New OWA+DP Website is Alive! Click Here
Become a Member! | Login

Newsletter | Nov/Dec 2016

Volume 44:6
Previous | Next | Current | Archive

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:
After the Election, A Conversation - Naomi Horowitz, with input from the Steering Committee
Editorial - Naomi Horowitz

Get to Know a Member in 5 Questions

by Sandra Vivanco    |    Share #1166

Sandra Vivanco is Professor of Architecture and Diversity Studies at California College of the Arts (CCA) in San Francisco. A former Fulbright Fellow, she has written several articles on 20th-century Latin American architecture, focusing specifically on postwar Brazil and Mexico. Vivanco has contributed to Transculturation: Cities, Spaces and Architectures in Latin America (Editions Rodopi, 2005) and Baroque New Worlds: Representation, Transculturation, Counterconquest (Duke University Press, 2010).

In 1994 Vivanco founded A+D, Architecture+Design, a firm widely known for design excellence and her commitment to innovative community-based design. Published widely, the work of A+D continues to be recognized in the US and abroad. In 2013, A+D won the commission to be the Architect of Record for a major civic building in San Francisco: the new Mexican Museum at Yerba Buena Gardens. In 2010 Vivanco was also selected as one of Ten Architects to Watch by California Home & Design for her community-based arts and cultural center in the Mission district: Plaza Adelante.

1. What book has changed how you look at the world?

There are a few and for different reasons:
- Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (The New Press, 2012) confirmed the ingrained racism in our society and made me spring to action.
- Hannah Arendt's The Human Condition (The University of Chicago Press, 1998) made me forever conscious of the difference between semblance and appearance.
- Alfredo Bryce Echenique's A World for Julius (University of Wisconsin Press, 2004) is a poignant critique of Lima's society in the 1950's and it completely transformed how I looked at the city where I grew up with its latent issues of class and racial division.

2. How has someone’s mentoring made a difference in your life or career?

I was Kenneth Frampton's RA as a graduate student at Columbia. He encouraged me to research and write about modern architecture in Latin America and emphasized how little had been published in English about it. He also impressed on me how crucial it was for me to be bilingual and bicultural and that my hybrid identity coupled with my multi-cultural life experiences provided me with a unique critical point of view.

3. What is your next big goal for yourself, personally or professionally?

To write a book about Gender and Modern Architecture in Latin America. I am interested in how the female gaze and women’s particular interest in craft, place, and experience transformed the architectural production of the twentieth century.

4. In a parallel life, what would be your line of work?

I would have loved to be a professional dancer and choreographer or perhaps a film maker. I'm extremely interested in the temporal as it relates to a work of art or to an architectural space.

5. What has changed since you started in your field?

The most obvious change is the role of the digital and how it might redefine authenticity. Even the fact that we routinely differentiate between analog and digital reality is very telling.

Mission Navigation Center

Welcome New Members

 Share #1168

We welcome these new members who recently joined the OWA+DP:

Megumi Yamanoha
Rachel Luhrsen
Kasey Elliott
Susan Friedman

We hope you will get involved, come to events, and get to know your fellow members.

We also thank everyone who has renewed their membership in the last two months.

News from Our Members

 Share #1169

In November, Wendy Bertrand attended ARCHITECTURE & FEMINISMS: Ecologies, Economies, Technologies, a conference sponsored by the UK based Architectural Humanities Research Association ( This, their first conference outside the UK, was held at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, Sweden, November 17-19, 2016. Over 200 international researchers, academics, practitioners and advanced degree students gathered to share a range of keynotes and parallel panel discussions. Wendy was in Sweden for two weeks, which gave her time to visit a long time Swedish girl friend (since 1964) and enjoy Swedish winter culture.

A flier about the conference with reading recommendations is here

Stopped for a coffee here

Stars of Sweden

After the Election, A Conversation

by Naomi Horowitz, with input from the Steering Committee    |    Share #1172

Many of you are probably familiar with the controversy around the post-election statement released by Robert Ivy, CEO of the American Institute of Architects. There was outrage not only about the tone and content of the statement, but also about the lack of an inclusive process. Many felt that the national organization was not in touch with its members. If you’d like more information about this, we recommend the review by the AIA San Francisco chapter, which you can read here.

This newsletter is aimed primarily at our members, and not likely read by those in power. We are also limited, like other 501(c )3 organizations, in what we can say on partisan political matters. So rather than making a statement on behalf of our members, we would rather engage you in a conversation. This is your OWA+DP. Are there positions or actions that we should take collectively? Are there ways we can better support each other?

One place to start may be to revisit our mission statement. It currently reads as follows:

The Organization of Women Architects and Design Professionals supports and promotes women in design-related field in all phases of their professional lives. We seek to:
• Improve the professional standing of women in architecture and design-related fields.
• Promote networking opportunities among our members and related professional groups.
• Provide support for women entrepreneurs and business owners in the design industry.
• Advocate young women and students entering design-related fields through mentoring, education, and employment opportunities.
• Support women in creating a healthy balance between their professional and personal lives.

Is there interest in revising or expanding on this statement? Here are a few options:
1. We could be more explicit about our inclusiveness: “The OWA+DP supports and advocates for all women in the design professions, regardless of religion, immigration status, or gender assigned at birth.”
2. We could commit to resisting attempts to lower the status of women: “The OWA+DP is committed to standing together against words and actions by elected or appointed government officials that discriminate against or disrespect women.”
3. We could also focus attention more generally on amplifying women’s voices: “The OWA+DP acts to amplify the voices of women in public and well as professional spheres.”

To share your thoughts on the mission statement, suggest other actions, or share your thoughts and feelings on the current political climate, please join the new discussion thread on our Forum. We have posted this statement there and welcome your comments. This discussion will be open only to logged-in members.

For a more personal response to the election, please read the Editorial also contained in this newsletter.


by Naomi Horowitz    |    Share #1173

This organization was founded in 1973 by women beginning their professional lives who found a field and a profession that were often unwelcoming to them, that failed to take them seriously or treat them as equals. It has been sustained in the decades since by the involvement and dedication of its members.

The health of our democracy is similarly sustained by our participation, which does not begin or end with our vote on election day. Our voices matter. Our actions matter. I encourage us all to find the issues that we care about passionately, and act on them. Write, call, stand, march, teach. Be generous. Be brave. And remember that you are not alone. Reach out to each other. Inspire each other. Comfort each other.

I was inspired by the letter, signed by over 1500 tech employees (see, pledging to resist the creation of discriminatory databases or registries. The areas where they commit to taking action include refusing to participate, advocating within their organizations, and addressing misuse of data. They commit to actions up to and including whistle-blowing and resigning from their positions.

We should also think about the role of our profession in serving the causes either of human betterment or of oppression. What is our equivalent of the Muslim registry? Where is our resistance relevant? I personally commit to resist in the following ways:

I will not participate in the design and construction of the following types of facilities:
- Border walls
- Facilities used for the detention of any group on the basis of anything other than criminal prosecution. This includes facilities for detaining groups based on immigration status, country of origin, religion, ethnicity, or any similar category.
- Facilities to be used for torture, no matter what it is called, and no matter where they are located

I will resist these by refusing to contribute my time and expertise, by speaking against them, and by resigning my position if necessary.

Do you have ideas for other types of work that should be resisted? Other methods of resistance?

Like the OWA+DP statement sbove, I am posting this editorial as a new thread on the Forum, to make it easy for everyone to contribute ideas.

This is my last issue as newsletter editor. However, I would also love to see more in-depth analysis of how our professions will be affected by the new administration. In addition to malignant projects to be resisted, we should consider broader implications for the building industry. If anyone has the expertise to write about anticipated impacts on affordable housing, infrastructure, or other areas, I am confident the incoming newsletter editor will be interested in hearing from you in the new year.

Please note that these are my personal thoughts, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the OWA+DP or its members.

Holiday Party

 Share #1174

And now, on a lighter note: Thank you to Kathleen Cruise for graciously opening your home for the party. Thank you to Mui Ho for sharing these pictures of members and friends in our finest plumage, enjoying each other’s company.

Contact us at
Follow us at  

by check or PayPal