Newsletter | Sep/Oct 2014

Fifty Women Architects and Design Professionals Gathered for 2014 Retreat

Documentary Honors Lutah Maria Riggs

by Inge Horton and Jean Nilsson, Ed.

LUTAH film poster

LUTAH A Passion for Architecture: A Life in Design premiered at the 2014 Santa Barbara International Film Festival. The recently founded Lutah Maria Riggs Society is presenting the documentary film which is receiving rave reviews.

Interestingly, this woman architect was the subject of a little booklet In Celebration of Women in Architecture that Nancy Baker and Mui Ho prepared in 1982 for the 10th OWA Anniversary. They had visited Lutah shortly after her retirement, meeting at the 1926 home/studio she built for herself near Santa Barbara, and they include in the booklet their personal descriptions and photographs of Lutah’s house and the reminiscences she shared of her 61-year practice. You can read the full text and view this 10th Anniversary Brochure on our website.

The Lutah Maria Riggs Society website describes Lutah's life and work as shown in the film directed by Kum-Kum Bhavnani :

LUTAH explores the life of a little known architect who left a big legacy. She designed iconic buildings such as the Lobero Theater [pictured in poster], Vedanta Temple, and the Botanic Garden and was integral to rebuilding a damaged Santa Barbara after the 1925 earthquake. Lutah designed exquisite homes in many styles for some of Santa Barbara’s greatest philanthropists, and she spent hundreds of volunteer hours laying the foundation for the Santa Barbara Landmarks Commission. She did all of this as an independent woman at the turn of the 20th century.

"Lutah Maria Riggs navigated her way through the male-centric world of architecture and brought a fresh take to the established architectural styles of Southern California.”

You can find more information on the film and this remarkable early woman architect at the Lutah Maria Riggs Society website and in the interesting and well-illustrated article in Santa Barbara Magazine.

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