Program Date: Thursday, January 26, 2023
Q&A Transcript

How do we write an architectural history that is inclusive and nuanced? How should we approach the work of women architects and landscape architects to better understand their roles in shaping our built environment? As women architects and landscape architects struggled to find a seat at the historical table, they often looked outside the mainstream for architectural inspiration or expression. The speakers in this roundtable discussion offer insight into the breadth of architectural and landscape sources and platforms that women have turned to and developed as alternatives to the architectural mainstream. From the popular magazine House Beautiful to vernacular traditions in Indian architecture or Danish landscapes, our speakers’ research deepens our understanding of how global trends in 20th-century architecture were adapted and developed by women and conditioned by their struggles for recognition.




Meg Vickery earned her PhD from Stanford University. Her first book, Buildings for Bluestockings: The Social and Architectural History of Women’s Colleges in Late Victorian England was published in 2000. Her more recent book, Landscape and Infrastructure: Re-Imagining the Pastoral Paradigm for the 21st Century was published in 2019 by Bloomsbury Academic. She is a founding member of Sustainable EWEMass, an interdisciplinary project which questions our traditional methods of land management and urges closer connections between humans and nature. She wrote the chapter “Collaborations: The Architecture and Art of Sigrid Miller Pollin” for the recent Routledge Companion to Women in Architecture, and she has begun research on Lady Marjory Allen and her work as a landscape architect and proponent of Adventure Playgrounds in Britain in the 20th century. Meg is currently a lecturer and Undergraduate Program Director for the History of Art and Architecture Department at UMass Amherst.



Kathleen James-Chakraborty is a graduate of Yale University and earned my doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania. She has taught at the University of Minnesota, the University of California, Berkeley, and University College Dublin, where she is a professor of art history. She has also held visiting appointments at the Ruhr University Bochum and the Yale School of Architecture. Her books include Architecture since 1400 (Minnesota, 2014), and Modernism as Memory: Building Identity in the Federal Republic of Germany (Minnesota, 2018). She currently holds a European Research Council Advanced Grant for a project entitled “Expanding Agency: Women, Race, and the Global Dissemination of Modern Architecture.”



Patrícia Santos Pedrosa is an architect, researcher, professor, feminist, activist, and mother. She is a researcher and Project Leader W@ARCH.PT - Women architects in Portugal, 1942–1986 (Portuguese Government Funding, 2018–2022). Assistant Professor (UBI, Architecture). Researcher at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Gender Studies (ULisbon). Co-founder and president of Women in Architecture (Portugal). Graduated in Architecture (Technical ULisbon, 1997), Master in History of Art (Nova ULisbon, 2008), PhD in Architecture (UPCatalonia, Spain, 2010), and a postgraduate degree in Feminist Studies (UCoimbra, 2016). Young Researchers in Art Studies Award (Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 2008). Main research areas: History of Architecture (Women and XX Century); Architecture, cities and Gender; Feminist Urbanism.


Svava Riesto is Associate Professor at the Section for Landscape Architecture and Planning at the University of Copenhagen. She studied art history in Tromsø, Berlin and Copenhagen, and gained her PhD in landscape architecture and urbanism in 2012. Riesto previously worked for several years in participatory landscape design, and she is concerned with how research and education can engage with local communities and the public. She is joint project leader (with Henriette Steiner) on Women in Danish Architecture 1925–1975. Riesto has curated several exhibitions on architecture and the city, most recently, she together with the team of the research project co-curated the historical section of the critically acclaimed exhibition Women at the Danish Architecture Centre 2022. Riesto’s most recent books are By Women. A guidebook to everyday architecture in Greater Copenhagen, with Liv Løvetand Rahbek and Henriette Steiner (Ikaros 2022) and the edited book Vademecum. 77 minor concepts for writing urban places, with Kris Pint, Klaske Havik and Henriette Steiner (NAi 2020).


Brinda Somaya is an architect and urban conservationist. Upon completion of her Bachelor of Architecture from Mumbai University and Master of Arts from Smith College in Northampton, MA, USA, she started her firm Somaya and Kalappa Consultants (SNK) in 1978 in Mumbai, India. In May 2012 she was conferred an Honorary Doctorate from her alma mater, Smith College. In 2014 she was awarded the Indian Institute of Architects – Baburao Mhatre Gold Medal for Lifetime Achievement. From 2016 to 2021 she was the Chairperson of the Board of Governors, School of Planning and Architecture, Vijayawada, an Institute of National Importance. In 2017 she joined the Board of the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction, Zurich, Switzerland and was also elected as the A.D. White Professor-at-Large by Cornell University, USA. For over four decades she has merged architecture, conservation and social equity in projects ranging from institutional campuses, rehabilitation of an earthquake-torn village to restoration of an 18th century Cathedral, showing that progress and history need not be at odds. Her belief that'The Architect's role is that of guardian – hers is the conscience of the built and un-built environment', underlines her work that encompasses large corporate, industrial, and institutional campuses and extends to public spaces, some of which she has rebuilt, and others reinvented as pavements, parks, and plazas.


Henriette Steiner is Associate Professor at the Section for Landscape Architecture and Planning at the University of Copenhagen. She holds a PhD in Architecture from the University of Cambridge, UK, and has been a researcher or visiting scholar at different design programs including ETH Zurich and MIT. She is joint project leader (with Svava Riesto) on Women in Danish Architecture 1925–1975, a three-year research project that aims to provide a more just and complete understanding of architecture history by highlighting women’s contributions to the architectural disciplines in Denmark. Steiner’s most recent books are Tower to Tower: Gigantism in Architectural and Digital Culture (MIT Press, 2020) and Touch in the Time of Corona: Reflections of Love, Care and Vulnerability in the Pandemic (De Gruyter, 2021). Both books are co-written with Kristin Veel.