Pioneering Women of American Architecture began in 2012 with two women, Wanda Bubriski and Beverly Willis, who wanted to uncover the work that American women architects had done during the early decades of the twentieth century. They envisaged a collection of profiles of fifty women. However, the task of getting from the enormous universe of women who have contributed to American architecture down to fifty was not an easy one, and involved the work of many scholars from across the United States.
With the help of a seed grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Beverly Willis Architectural Foundation (BWAF) then formed an Advisory Council. Chaired by Diane Favro, it created a long list of possible contenders for the final list of fifty. The Advisory Council members were Annmarie Adams, Kathryn Anthony, Wanda Bubriski, Meredith Clausen, Gabrielle Esperdy, Thomas Fisher, Cynthia Hammond, Mary McLeod, Monica Penick, Avigail Sachs, Despina Stratigakos, Dell Upton, and Abigail Van Slyck. After the “long list” of pioneering women was established, a smaller jury of three members selected the final fifty women who would be profiled. The jury members were Ford Peatross, Sarah Whiting, and Gwendolyn Wright. We thank all the scholars who helped produce the final list; many of them also went to become profile authors.
Once the list was created, as project co-directors we began the work of selecting authors for each of the fifty profiles and developing a format for the project. The authors, who are identified with their subjects in the profiles have displayed enormous patience, intelligence, and fortitude in their efforts to document the lives of each of these women, ransacking old newspaper archives, flying across the country to document buildings, searching out education and accreditation records, and much, much more. We are grateful to them all for helping us to create, in some cases from scratch, this history of women’s role in American architecture.
Besides those named above, many other people have contributed to this project and have our gratitude and appreciation, above all Joan Blumenfeld, who, as president of the board of the BWAF has supported this project through many difficult passages and to Cynthia Kracauer, who, as executive director of BWAF made it her personal mission to get this project to liftoff. In addition, we would like to acknowledge the support and guidance of previous executive directors James T. Hanley and Carol Shapiro; staff members Christie Chirinos and Erin Sweeney; and the original program director, Nancy Nguyen, and the current one, Linnea Kniaz, whose tireless efforts been so fundamental to this project. We have also been fortunate to have the assistance of several dedicated copyeditors, Mark LaFlaur, Steven R. Frankel, and Zoë Slutzky; as well as that of Meredith Gaglio, who has obtained many of the photographs and permissions. Ernest Pang, Kurt Streich, and Nyssa Shiraz also helped at various stages in assembling images.
We are also grateful to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and Mikayla Lynch in particular, for hosting the project launch in October 2014, and we would like to commend the museum for its efforts to support women in architecture.
Mary McLeod and Victoria Rosner