SAHARA Highlights: Women in Architecture

by Jacqueline Spafford and Mark Hinchman, SAHARA Co-Editors | Mar 03, 2021

In recognition of Women’s History Month, we are featuring a small selection of some of the architects in SAHARA. While the collection contains several surprises—architects and projects previously unfamiliar to us—there are many gaps, and we encourage SAH members to keep this in mind when selecting material to contribute. We greatly appreciate all the content from our members.

To see more SAHARA content:
To learn more about contributing, visit:   

Lookout Studio, Grand Canyon National Park
Mary Colter (1869–1958), Lookout Studio, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, 1914. Colter was the chief architect for the Fred Harvey Company from 1902 to 1948. She designed several buildings in the Grand Canyon National Park, all greatly inspired by the landscape. Photograph by Richard Guy Wilson. [Read more about the Lookout on SAH Archipedia]


Pompéia Factory Leisure Center, São Paulo
Lina Bo Bardi (1914–1992), Pompéia Factory Leisure Center, São Paulo, Brazil, 1977-86. Italian-born, Bardi moved to Brazil after WWII. Bardi strived to bring back an architectural language tied to the culture of Brazil with this project, built on the site of a former drum factory.  Photograph by Horacio Torrent.


River Run residence, Saint Helena
Beverly Willis (born 1928), River Run residence, Saint Helena, California, 1983. Located among the Napa Valley vineyards with a Palladian-influenced design, the residence was bought by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in 1990. Photograph by Peter Aaron, 1985.


Ahmadu Bello Hall, University of Ibadan Oyo
Jane Drew (with Maxwell Fry) (1911–1996), Ahmadu Bello Hall, University of Ibadan Oyo, Nigeria, 1949-60. Drew and Fry were hired by the Colonial Office to design several public buildings in Africa, including the Ibadan University campus, which resulted in a new architectural style called “Tropical Modernism”. Photograph by ‘Deyemi Akande, 2013.


Kaleva Church, Tampere, Finland
Raili Pietilä (with Reima Pietilä) (born 1926), Kaleva Church, Tampere, Finland, 1959–1966. From 1960, Raili collaborated with her husband Reima on projects internationally. The Brutalist concrete Kaleva Church was one of their first projects together, and is a Finnish landmark. Photograph by William Morgan.


Lobero Theater, Santa Barbara, California
Lutah Maria Riggs (1896–1984), Lobero Theater, Santa Barbara, California, 1924. Riggs was the first woman in California named a Fellow of the AIA, and in 1924 was made a partner in George Washington Smith’s firm. She worked with Smith on the Lobero as renderer, and went on to design many residential and institutional projects in Southern California. Photograph by Jackie Spafford, 2011.


Brukalski House
Barbara Brukalska (with Stanislaw Brukaslki) (1899–1980), the Brukalski House on Niegolewskiego Street, Warsaw, Poland, 1927–1928. Their home design shows the influences from their participation in the Praesens group, and from Rietveld and Le Corbusier, which they translated into affordable designs for worker housing.  Photograph by  Anna Jozefacka, 2012.


Adolph Mueller House
Marion Mahony Griffin (1871-1961), Adolph Mueller House, Decatur, Illinois, 1909.  Born in Chicago and educated at MIT, Mahony worked with Herman von Holst for Frank Lloyd Wright on three Decatur houses. She later worked on projects in India and Australia. Photograph by Mark Hinchman, 2016.


Riverside Museum, Glasgow
Zaha Hadid (1950–2016), Riverside Museum, Glasgow, Scotland, 2004–2011. One of many spectacular public building designs by Hadid, and one of several influenced by the movement of water. Photograph by Alexandra Anda Florea, 2017.


Ninomiya Seaside House
Adèle Naudé Santos (born 1938), Ninomiya Seaside House, Ninomiya, Japan, 1986–1989. Santos has designed affordable housing and public buildings, in addition to unique dwellings such as Seaside House. Photograph by Hiro Sagaguchi.


Founded in 1940, the Society of Architectural Historians is an international nonprofit membership organization that promotes the study, interpretation and conservation of architecture, design, landscapes and urbanism worldwide. SAH serves a network of local, national and international institutions and individuals who, by profession or interest, focus on the built environment and its role in shaping contemporary life. SAH promotes meaningful public engagement with the history of the built environment through advocacy efforts, print and online publications, and local, national and international programs.

SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
for its operating support.
Society of Architectural Historians
1365 N. Astor Street
Chicago, Illinois 60610