New Steering Committee Members
by Suzanne Stewart
It is my pleasure to introduce you to our newest Steering Committee members: Leslie Allen, Caroline SooHoo, and Stacy Webb. We are delighted to have these terrific women join us and we thank them for their commitment to OWA. Please join me in welcoming them and be sure to introduce yourself at our next event.
Leslie Allen, Architect, has joined the OWA Steering Committee. She first started attending OWA meetings while president of San Diego's Women in Architecture group in the late 1980's, as the California Women in Environmental Design (CWED) was forming. Leslie's range of professional experience includes architecture, historic preservation, landscape architecture, urban planning, and teaching art. Ms. Allen is self-employed and does both architecture and art commissions.
Sustainability and green design and construction practices are of fundamental concern to Leslie, both for the health of building occupants and for the global environment. While working toward her B.A. in Social Ecology (1980) at UC Irvine, Leslie adopted an ecological framework and environmental psychology into her design process. Passive solar building design, alternative energy technologies, and intentional communities were part of LeslieÃs Master of Architecture (1984) education in New Mexico.
In addition, Ms. Allen is an artist who works in fine and applied art media. She blends art, craft, and architecture with an integral approach to design and life. Commissions include a pair of sculptural stoneware tile murals and a bronze wine cellar door for a guesthouse on the coast of Big Sur. A one-person painting show last August featured large landscapes of Tennessee Valley and beach, just south of her home in Mill Valley. Leslie recently completed a welding course; her hands-on experience making things and using tools informs her design work.
During the last year, Leslie organized a group of Mill Valley Architects to contribute to the development of the new plan for the major commercial boulevard into her town, including changes in zoning and the development of design guidelines.
Caroline SooHoo, an architect, is presently a project manager for planning, design, and construction of new and renovated facilities at City College of San Francisco.
In her 'free' time, she enjoyed spending time with her friends and family, painting, and playing guitar. As a new OWA Steering Committee member, she would welcome hearing from the members about the kinds of activities, seminars, trips, etc. that the OWA could organize to support the creativity and interests of its members. This year she is looking forward to the possibility of an OWA trip to Russia, spear-headed by Larissa Sabsay.
My interest in architecture began, while in grade school, when I visited an architecture firm. Since I have always been interested in Art, I immediately fell for the models and drawings of buildings that I saw there. I was fortunate enough to spend a year in Belgium as an exchange student in high school and four months in Japan during college. During these stays I learned about new cultures and sought out interesting vernacular, classical and avant garde architecture of Belgium, Holland, France, Germany, Austria and later, the beautiful Eastern architecture of Japan. I studied architecture at the University of Washington in Seattle, where I was awarded the Calison and Eberhard Scholarships and earned a BA in Architecture.
I moved to Oakland nearly ten years ago to work at Pyatok Architects, where I have been committed to the firm's goal of helping to provide high quality, affordable housing. I have worked on many exciting projects, including the recently completed Vineyard Crossings and some award-winning housing, such as Channing Bowditch student housing for UC Berkeley, the historic rehabilitation of Altenheim Senior Housing and the renovation of Lord Tennyson Apartments.
Over the past year, I was the chairperson for the Women in Architecture Forum of the AIAEB. The ForumÃs goal is to create a comfortable place for women to meet and to encourage people to get more active, network, present their work and find opportunities to mentor or to be mentored. It was through looking for women to present at the Forum that I had the pleasure of meeting Mui Ho. James E. Vann gave me Mui's name, and I learned that there is an entire organization dedicated to women in architecture and design. Who knew? I approached Mui to see if she would present to the Forum, and she invited me to the OWA's presentation at StopWaste.Org. I was so impressed with how supportive and egalitarian that Mui, the OWA and its members are, that I went to the retreat and there volunteered to be on the Steering Committee. I am honored to be a member of the OWA, to be amongst so many empowering women and to be on the Steering Committee. I am thankful to all those who started the OWA and to those who have nurtured it along. My only regret is not having heard about the OWA sooner, so I will spread the word and show others just what they have been missing!
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