Newsletter | Mar/Apr 2020

Remembering Sandra Vivanco

by OWA members

Sandra Vivanco architect, educator and community activist passed away last week. She was influential with LiA SF and an important advocate for Latin women architects. We remember Sandra, her energy and enthusiasm from our yearly retreats. We will all miss her.

Hana Mori Bottger :
    The 2016 Retreat was subtitled "Transitions" - this was the year I met Sandra. We sat next to each other constructing our shadow-boxes filled with little objects marking transitions through our lives. I asked about hers, because she was just then placing a small lock of hair in her box. She said it was her daughter's hair.

Gilda Puente-Peters
    I am so sad to hear this news, Sandra was a wonderful person, friend and colleague. She was so generous and dedicated to support women architects and particularly Latin women.

Darlene Jang :
    I am saddened to learn of the passing of Sandra Vivanco, AIA, in early April. Sandra was founder of A+D, Architecture + Design, in San Francisco, an advocate for Latin women and diversity in architecture, an educator, and a member of our OWA community. I admire her contributions at the last OWA+DP retreat and LiA events. Her passion, energy, and contributions to women and diversity issues will be greatly missed.”

    Sandra was active in many organizations, including LiASF. Lara Bachmann, AIA, Founding LiASF Chair, and Homer Perez, AIA, 2020 LiaSF Chair, wrote: “Her enormous generosity and limitless contribution - not just to LiASF - but to our AIASF committees, in addition the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), the Organization of Women Architects (OWA), valuable member of Equity by Design and her Professorship at the California College of the Arts (CCA) makes our hearts very heavy.”

    Her many achievements include practicing architecture in Japan, Portugal, Peru, Italy, Mexico and Brazil, according to her CCA bio. She was associated with Portuguese Pritzker prize winner Alvaro Siza in 1990. She is currently the Architect of Record for The Mexican Museum of San Francisco under construction on Mission Street near New Montgomery.

    The CCA bio said Sandra as well known as a “LatinX cultural expert with profound knowledge of modern art and architecture in Latin America.” It noted how she “skillfully synthesizes theory and practice,” citing “the permanent built intervention by her students at Plaza Adelante, a community service and art center for Latin immigrants.”
    Sandra was also “a San Francisco Mission neighborhood resident and activist, an avid dancer, and a proud mother of two public school graduates,” the CAA bio said.

    In 2018, she won a Stewardson Keefe LeBrun Travel Grant from the Center for Architecture and AIA New York to study projects of six notable Latin American women in architecture.

    In a 2016 interview with ByDesign Magazine (an e-zine published by CASA alumni) she spoke about her undergraduate experience at the UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design, where she received her B.A. in 1985. She noted in particular the impact of the Chicano Architectural Student Association played.

    “They were definitely an influential cohort for me…. That convivium raised by political consciousness in terms of class, race, political and ethnic conflict. This experience definitely contributed to the professional I am today.”

    Sandra was born in Peru and grew up in Lima. “It’s not as gentle as the Bay Area,” she told the San Francisco Chronicle in a 2003 feature about the expansion of her 1911 Edwardian home.

Photograph mui Ho

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