Newsletter | Nov/Dec 2010

2009 OWA Holiday Party

Notes from the Editor

by Leslie Golden
I am delighted to inform everyone we had a very productive steering committee meeting on Saturday November 6th between 10am and 3:30pm. We accomplished a great deal and are so delighted to welcome our new steering committee members and appreciate their enthusiasm and eagerness to volunteer for many positions.

Gabriela will be assuming the newletter responsiblities next year!

OWA Holiday Party and Gifts to the Hamilton House

by Leslie Golden
Everyone is invited to attend the annual OWA Holiday Party hosted at Spring Friedlander's house in Berkeley between 6pm to 8:30pm.
Please stay to cleanup between 8:30 – 9pm.

Please bring an unwrapped gift or gift cards for donation to the Hamilton House in San Francisco. The Hamilton House is a non-profit organization which matches these gifts with low income familes in need.

more information is here

Fri, Dec 10, 2010
6pm - 8:30pm
OWA Holiday PartySpring Friedlander's house
66th Street
Oakland, CA 94609

Location and directions are here

Public Relations and Group Outreach Project

by Susan Aitken

Public Relations and Group Outreach Project
By Susan Aitken

Proposal: Identify other professional groups, who are either women professionals or
members of related design and engineering fields who have relevance to OWA. Evaluate
appropriate groups for cross-interaction and support.

Identify outreach and cross-interaction goals including:
• Joint meetings or presentations opportunities
• Links to Websites
• Provide OWA members as speakers for their organizations.
• Tap their organizations for speakers for OWA functions.
• Negotiate discounts for OWA members for services or training offered by that
• Add groups to OWA invitation lists for exhibits and similar
• National as well as regional recognition

OWA Objectives Supported:
1. Increase OWA visibility with public, professional groups and other groups with
similar goals.
2. Contributes to arrangement of Speaker and presentations.
3. Contributes to more interactivity on OWA web site
4. Identifies organizations that are already providing services OWA would like to
provide to our members, but avoids duplication (and the organizational effort that
goes into planning them).

How you can help: Are you a member in another women’s professional group? Are
you aware of or familiar with another organization that seems to fit the bill? Send your
suggestions to me at I’ll update my progress in future newsletters.

October Annual Business Meeting

by Joanne Chow Winship
The annual business meeting of OWA was held on October 19 at Shaw Contract Group in the financial district. Mary Hoska of Shaw carpets graciously opened the showroom and provided refreshments for the members who gathered to socialize and participate in the meeting. On the agenda was the approval of policies and procedures in order to provide a working process for the steering committee that would be consistent from year to year. New steering committee members were voted in for 2011. They are Susan Aitken, Gabriela Chamu, and Dede Tave. We are excited to have the involvement of seasoned architect, Susan, and the perspective of two design students, Dede and Gabie.
There was a good discussion on the goals and objectives of the OWA and agreement that they needed to be revised and looked at in more detail in the near future. (Since that discussion, a professionally facilitated planning retreat/visioning workshop has been scheduled for Spring 2011 where all members will be invited to review and recommend for adoption, revisions to the goals and objectives of OWA. The organization, the membership, and the profession have evolved over the past 37 years, and it is time to take a fresh look at how OWA can remain vital today and into the future.)
Activities and programs for 2011 and The 40th Anniversary in 2013 were prioritized and recommended for consideration to the Steering Committee and the 40th Anniversary Committee. An OWA Member Survey was passed out at the meeting and sent via email to the membership. The results will also be factored in for consideration. More information about the meeting is found under Steering Committee Minutes on the OWA website.

2010 Membership Survey Summary

by Karlene Gullone
Thank you to all of those who took the time to respond to the member survey this year, either online, on paper, or via e-mail. We only had 22 respondents (a mere 11% of the membership). Yet, there were quite a wide range of opinions offered, regarding OWA, the purpose of the organization, and the programs that it should offer. Some felt that OWA should provide more services, more focus on women’s issues, and more publicity for women designers. Others felt that the organization is trying to do too much. There are many other organizations that provide continuing education, youth programs, and exam study groups, for example. Perhaps OWA should focus on its mission and not try to support the members in every aspect of their professional needs? Susan Aitken has made it her goal in 2011 to work on making connections with other organizations, in order to minimize this kind of duplication of effort.

The complete survey results are posted on the Forum, in the comment fields below the original request for input:
A summary of the actions taken by the steering committee as a result of the survey are below:

The steering committee took note that 47% felt that the organization supports women in design fields only sometimes or never. As this is the core of our mission statement, we have given this some thought. While 70% felt that OWA promotes women professionals through mentorship, only 23% felt that the overall support for women in design fields was adequate. The majority was uncertain or felt the OWA was doing an inadequate job supporting women through scholarships, special research grants, internships, educational programs for youth, or pro-bono design/construction work. Yet, due to lack of time or other resources, members were hesitant to take on too many of these projects. The steering committee would therefore like to establish a scholarship and more formal mentorship program in the upcoming year. (76% of the membership thought a more structured mentorship program was a mid-to-high priority; for 57% providing scholarships to aspiring designers was also a mid-to-high priority.) As the 40th anniversary approaches, we also have long-range planning programs in place for a Symposium (a high priority for 70% of survey respondents), Exhibition (a high priority for 58%), a Gala Celebration (a high priority for 55%), Awards & Nominations (a high-to-mid priority for 68%), and Community Service Projects (a high-to-mid priority for 63%). Please contact Gilda Puente-Peters if you are interested in helping us achieve these goals.

Based on the survey results, the Steering Committee with the help of our program coordinator, Leslie Golden, has chosen a line-up of events next year. We noted that 84% said they appreciated the Business Support programs, 75% voted for Design Tours, and 66% Green Building Presentations, and have scheduled at least one event focused on each of these topics. We have also chosen other programs which promote women designers or seem pertinent due to the current economic situation. Joanne Winship will continue to work tirelessly on OWA’s Policies & Procedures. Look for a special one-day planning retreat in the late Spring where we will work on fine-tuning the language for the goals and mission statement of the organization, and discussing how to better meet these goals for the membership.

An overwhelming number (70%) said they are not interested in allowing members to mass e-mail the membership. We will continue offering the website forum and newsletter for disseminating information. Please send your newsletter contributions to Gabriela Chamu, starting in January 2011. At the same time, 55% would like OWA to increase our web presence. Bill Hocker, Karlene Gullone, and Dede Tave will continue upgrading the website and new Facebook page. Finally, 83% would like OWA to provide more continuing education programs. Gilda will continue to offer her accessibility seminar to satisfy the continuing education requirements for the architecture license. Please contact us with your suggestions for other programs or events you would like to see in the future.

The majority of members are willing to pay a little more to accomplish OWA’s mission. The steering committee recently voted on this and may consider increasing the fees for some special events. We do not plan to increase membership dues at this time, but encourage those who are interested in contributing more to consider becoming supporting members.

The steering committee was pleased to discover that an overwhelming amount of the membership was willing to help out with OWA programs from time to time. We pledge to put more effort into member outreach next year, and involve all who are interested in supporting OWA’s mission.

Thanks again for your suggestions. Please don’t hesitate to contact a steering committee member or post on the website forum if you have questions or concerns. We appreciate your feedback throughout the year.

November Steering Committee Summary

by Joanne Chow Winship

The current and new steering committee members and officers met on November 11 for the day to plan the programs for the 2011 year. They took suggestions from the September Westerbeke retreat discussion, the October annual meeting, and the membership survey and sorted them out into long term and short term objectives. The short term objectives guided the meeting content for 2011. The long term objectives would require more discussion and information. One of those is the subject of scholarships which will be taken up at the January steering committee meeting. Information that is needed to inform the discussion are the following:
a. Eligibility for scholarships
b. What do the scholarships fund?
c. Do the scholarships go to the institution, organization, program or the student directly?
d. How much for an individual scholarship and what is the time period?
e. Do we want to see any sort of report after the scholarship period from the student or program?
f. What programs are already established for scholarships and what is their purpose? Do we contribute individual scholarships to their program or some other alternative?

The Steering Comittee voted to subsidize the Book Circle Proposed by Wendy Bertrand in the amount of $1,000 and agreed to look into a video history of the OWA for use on our web site and at the 40th anniversary. Leslie Golden will be working with the Women's Group of the EB AIA to schedule one or two group events which are mutually beneficial. Future details will follow and the complete Steering Committee minutes will be posted shortly.

The group also divided up responsibilities with the following coordinator
Membership - Dede Tave
Finance - Judy Rowe
Newsletter - Gabriella Chamu
Programs - Leslie Golden
Policy and Procedures - Joanne Chow Winship
Information - Karlene Gullone
Public Relations - Susan Aitken
40th Anniversary - Gilda Puente-Peters

Judy Rowe will be going off the Steering Committee, but maintain her officer position as Treasurer. We will try to encourage her continued meeting participation as her reasoned voice and excellent facilitating skills have been a great asset to the meetings.

The committee decided to postpone to a membership planning retreat, the discussion of any revisions to the goals of the organization. There has been much interest in participating in this discussion which will be held in May on a Saturday with a professional facilitator. It was agreed to give ample notice to the entire membership of this planning retreat once the date and location are finalized.

The tentative schedule of activities for 2011include:
February 15 - Sales in Architecture by Anna Scott
April 19 - Healthy Alternatives for Interior Finishes & Materials by Jean Hansen
May (TBA)- Members' Visioning Workshop
June 7 - Personal Finances: Impact Investing by Lisa Kleissner
August - (TBA) - Women Architects by Inge S. Horton
September 16-18 - Westerbeke Retreat
October 18 - Annual Meeting
December - Holiday Party

OWA Book Circle

OWA 2010-2011


Facilitator: Wendy Bertrand
Place: Noe Valley, SF
Budget $1000 (as approved Nov 6, 2010)

INTENT: OWA members read and discuss three books linking women & architecture and donate books to environmental design libraries at the end of one year, leaving time for OWA members not in circles to read them by request.

CONCEPT: Small groups (minimum 5, maximum 7 OWA members and 1 potential member) to meet three times in 2011, January, March, and November to discuss books about women and architecture (the profession, the built world, the history, the education, the theory, and the cultural impact).

Sign-up now!

You must let Wendy know if you want to be a member of the book circles at or 415-648-2713
There are a few places, and a waiting list will be started.

December: Members get 1st book to read

January First Circle:
6PM- 8:30PM Tuesday, January 20

March Second Circle
6PM-8PM Tuesday March 17

November Third Circle
6PM-8PM Tuesday, November 10

First book for OWA Book Circles: Early Women Architects of the San Francisco Bay Area: The Lives and Work of Fifty Professionals, 1890-1951 by Inge Horton, McFarland & Company, North Carolina, 2010.

Possible titles to be decided on by members for circles 2 and 3:
Building Sex: Men, Women, Architecture, and the Construction of Sexuality by Aaron Betsky (William Morrow and Company, 1995) A good introduction to why architecture is so masculine.

Discrimination by Design: A Feminist Critique of the Man-made Environment by Leslie Kanes Weisman (Urbana: University of Chicago Press, 1992). Weisman teaches and writes about new social values related to woman’s issues and social justice, in great need of being reflected in our buildings and places.

THREADS: Insights by Women Architects, editors, Celine Pinet and Kimberly Devlin (Center for Architecture and Urban Planning Research, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 1991). Scholarly essays about planning and architecture

Architecture and Feminism by Debra Coleman, Elizabeth Danze, and Carol Henderson, editors (Yale Publications on Architecture, Princeton Architectural Press, 1996), with an introduction and nine interesting essays.

The Architect: Reconstructing Her Practice essays edited by Fancesca Hughes (The MIT Press, 1996). Twelve authors teaching and practicing architecture tell what it is like for them at the cutting edgeof design.

Architecture: A Place for Women, edited by Ellen Perry Berkeley with Mildred McQuaid as Associate Editor (Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989) collected real stories by twelve women in architecture.

Thu, Jan 20, 2011
6 pm
Book Circle Women+ArchitectureContact Wendy Bertrand or 415-648-2713

New Website Features

by Bill Hocker, Webmaster

Members now have a greater presence on the OWA website. As members, you may now create an OWA Portfolio of your work, maintain an OWA Journal and and link directly to other OWA members' pages. Have a look at my profile page and its links to my portfolio and journal to get an idea of how these pages might be used. Note that these pages are in a continual state of 'beta' development and that your feedback about desired features and bugs is very important. Please contact me.

Also, we have created web pages for this year's OWA Urban Vitality Exhibition and last years Building the City Exhibition both held at ARCH in conjunction with the AIASF Architecture and the City Festival. These pages can also be accessed through a link at the bottom of the programs/events page. As you can see, each project photo in the exhibits is linked to that member’s new Portfolio page. ( I have taken great liberties in starting member's portfolios using the photos from their exhibit submissions - hopefully they are just starting points .)

And, given the quantity of photos available from these exhibitions, we are now able to have randomly generated project photos on many of the site pages without undue repetition. The photos include links to your portfolio pages and to your own websites. Even more photos would be that much better. If you wish to be represented on the community pages of the site, please send me your project photos.

In Memoriam: Milka Tscherneva Bliznakov

by Inge S. Horton
Milka Tscherneva Bliznakov (1927-2010)

It is with great fondness and deep sadness that I write to you that my dear friend Milka Bliznakov passed away on November 4, 2010 in her home at Blacksburg, Virginia, shortly after reaching her 83th birthday. Milka, the founder and driving force behind the International Archive of Women in Architecture (IAWA) at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, was indeed the friend of all women in architecture. Her passionate energy and strong dedication to the cause of recognizing the contribution of women to the field of architecture and related design fields will live on in the Archive. Milka did not only recognize the need for collecting and preserving documents of women’s work but also stimulated the use of the collection by launching an annual research prize with her own funds. It was named in her honor the Milka Bliznakov Prize.

I feel honored to have known Milka, to have had the opportunity to learn from her and support the IAWA. So many happy memories surface when thinking of her. In 1987, even before I really knew her, she invited Wendy Bertrand and me to stay in her house while she was at a conference when we visited to get to know the Archive. “Just open the sliding door on the terrace and make yourselves comfortable inside,” she told us without hesitation. I remember with fondness her generous hospitality, inviting me and other board members to stay at her home in Blacksburg when attending the annual meetings of the IAWA. We often passionately discussed the direction and the future of the Archive late into the night.

She also hosted wonderful concerts with music by women composers at her house. The board was amazed when she told us that she, then in her late seventies, carried several suitcases with drawings by Bulgarian women architects back to the United States after a trip to her homeland. She loved Bulgaria and organized an unforgettable trip for some of her friends to experience the beautiful country and the work of Bulgarian women architects. I am thankful for encouragement she gave me for my own research on Bay Area women architects and her call congratulating me when she received my book this summer. I will miss her cheerful voice and upbeat attitude when answering my calls. In her last years, she was troubled by the loss of her eye sight due to macular degeneration and not being able to read or drive her beloved historic Mercedes but she never complained.

Educated in architecture at the State Polytechnic University of Sofia, Bulgaria, Milka practiced architecture in Bulgaria, France and the United States. After earning her Ph.D. in architectural history from Columbia University she went on to teaching, first at the University of Texas and, starting in 1974, at Virginia Tech. According to her students, she was an excellent teacher as well as an outstanding researcher, became an authority on Russian Constructivism and a cofounder of the Institute of Modern Russian Culture at USC. Among several awards bestowed on her were two Fulbright scholarships which allowed her to carry out her research in Europe. A more formal obituary describing her many achievements and awards can be found here.

In the early 1980s she perceived the need to collect work by women architects because examples of women’s designs were not available to share with her classes. For this purpose, she founded the International Archive of Women in Architecture in 1985 which has since grown into a significant collection. Several California women donated money and either their whole collection or a few projects such a Sigrid Lorenzen Rupp, Lois Gottlieb, Olive Chadeayne, Lilian Rice, Rebecca Wood Watkin, Zelma Wilson, Beverly Willis, Wendy Bertrand, Kathleen Cruise, Fani Hansen, Wena Dows, Sally Bould Stan, Jane Duncombe, Barbara Woodward, and others.

To honor the vision and important work of Milka Bliznakov, I urge you to support the mission and goals of the International Archive of Women in Architecture at Virginia Tech. Please donate documents of your own work to the Archive by contacting:

Special Collections, Digital Library and Archives
University Libraries, Virginia Tech
P.O. Box 90001
Blacksburg, VA 24062-9001 USA

or e-mail Special Collections at
or make a financial donation in her name to the Milka Bliznakov Prize Fund of the IAWA, c/o Donna Dunay, Chair, IAWA, School of Architecture + Design, Virginia Tech, 201 Cowgill Hall, Blacksburg, Va. 24061-0205

Office Spaces to Rent

by Leslie Golden
Darlene Jang has an office sublet available at 315 Bay Street San Francisco. Small private office or open space studio. Contact Darlene at 415 834 0248

Golden Associates has a 3,200 sf urban design studio located in North Oakland at 4400 Market Street. Two private offices are available with Comcast and all utilities included. Contact Leslie at 510 465 4030


by Leslie Golden
Galen Cranz has been invited to speak at the Chicago Humanities
Festival, now in its 18th year. This year's theme is "The Body" and
Galen will speak on Body Conscious Design on Sunday, Nov 14, 2010, 1:30 – 2:30 , at the Chicago History Museum.

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