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AIA Pittsburgh | Spotlight on 7 of Pittsburgh’s Women-Owned Firms

Mary Barensfeld, AIA, founder of Mary Barensfeld Structure, photographed in her Hilgard Garden challenge in San Francisco. Photograph: Joe Fletcher.

For Nationwide Ladies’s Month, AIA Pittsburgh is partnering with Point Line Tasks to spotlight some of the women architects and designers making an influence in Southwestern PA. In honor of International Ladies’s Day, we’re showcasing some of our region’s woman-owned companies. Subsequent, we’ll take a look at the comeback of Ladies in Design Pittsburgh, revisit Pennsylvania’s first registered lady architect (who was, in response to some, “the first woman to actually practice architecture professionally”), and eventually, spotlight emerging practitioners to observe. Be a part of the conversation on social media with the tag #AIAPghWomensMonth

Architecture is one of the few industries the place ladies have the means to build literal glass ceilings. That doesn’t imply they let metaphorical glass ceilings maintain them from pursuing leadership positions.

We know that ladies are underrepresented in architecture workplaces in comparison with the number of ladies graduating from structure because the early 1970s, but the image is altering—if slowly. Based on the AIA’s 2018 Firm Survey, the share of ladies structure employees has elevated from 28% to 35% over the past 10 years, and structure employees of colour has elevated from 22% to 27%. These numbers are anticipated to continue to grow, with ladies comprising 40% of emerging professionals on the trail to licensure.

Groups like the AIA San Francisco’s Fairness by Design initiative have sought to raised understand the limitations to larger retention and success charges by ladies and other people of colour in architecture, and a brand new research examines the impacts of caregiving, scholar debt, pay equity, and workplace values in retaining and supporting numerous expertise.

For many Pittsburgh ladies, selling constructive change within the business begins at their own companies. Whether by means of visionary design, participatory apply, or interdisciplinary collaboration, these seven women-owned companies are leading by instance and earning international accolades throughout many areas of apply.  Right here, agency house owners Mary Barensfeld, AIA, Christine Mondor, FAIA, Jennifer Lucchino, Ivette Mongalo-Winston, Dana Cupkova, Christine Brill, AIA, Jen Gallagher, and Cherie Moshier, AIA share their ideas on the thrill and challenges of follow as we speak, and the place they hope to see the sector go sooner or later.

Places: Pittsburgh and San Francisco

Founder: Mary Barensfeld, AIA

Yr based: 2013

Quantity of staff: 1

Mary Barensfeld, AIA, founder of Mary Barensfeld Structure, photographed in her Hilgard Garden undertaking in San Francisco. Photograph: Joe Fletcher.

How do you have fun ladies in structure by way of your work?

I wish to assume of each constructed Mary Barensfeld Structure challenge as a stake within the ground along ladies’s march in the direction of equality in the design fields.

Mary Barensfeld, AIA, reflects on an ongoing venture: “Here’s a construction shot I took of a project I’m currently working on in the Bay Area. It’s finishing up construction now. As you can see it has great views of the Bay. The owner has a great eye: I feel fortunate to have gotten the project. We’re really trying to blur the lines between structure, landscape, and large-scale art (land art). Keep your eyes peeled for upcoming photos of the finished project.”

Places: Pittsburgh, Florida, Connecticut

Founders: Christine Mondor, FAIA and Marc Mondor, AIA

Yr based: 2004

Quantity of staff: 12-ish full time

Christine Mondor, FAIA (left) and the evolveEA workforce in entrance of the constructing they designed for local coffee store chain, Tazza d’Oro in Millvale, PA. Photograph: evolveEA.

What could possibly be completed to allow more ladies to hold leadership roles inside the architecture/design area more broadly?

If we defined our career by its influence and never by its contractual tasks, we might possible discover that there are lots of ladies already in leadership roles. I see many superb and gifted feminine students within the college, but solely a fraction will stay in the career years from now. Whereas some of them have management roles in ways we historically outline follow, many are doing superb things within the public sector by way of advocacy, know-how, schooling, or different associated fields. We’d like an enormous tent for structure that includes individuals who have chosen to contribute in methods past the legal definition of “architect.” Language issues, and as long as we define these career paths as “alternative” or “nontraditional,” we’re missing a chance to capture the true influence and scope of contributions of ladies in our career.

evolveEA design for Pittsburgh’s Penn Station Transit Plaza. For Mondor, “it is a design that makes previously invisible relationships visible by connecting people and places.” The challenge acquired AIA PGH and PA awards in 2018. Courtesy evolveEA.

Location: Bloomfield, Pittsburgh

Founders: Jennifer Lucchino & Freddie Croce

Yr founded: 2003

Quantity of staff: 2 full-time

Inter*ARCHITECTURE co-founder Jennifer Lucchino speaks to Nina Barbuto’s Architecture for Non-Majors class from Carnegie Mellon University at Assemble with the contractor, Chad Sipes from Sipes & Son, a few delivery container venture that they designed for Heather Mallak. The category shared their concepts on makerspaces. Courtesy Lucchino.

What could possibly be accomplished to enable more ladies to carry management roles inside the architecture and design fields extra broadly?

The primary message that I might give to ladies in the structure and design fields is just like what Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the US House of Representatives articulated shortly after ascending to the speakership this past January: “I say to women, know your power.” She went on to emphasize the importance of being educated of your area, together with why you’re doing it, in an effort to converse with authority and confidence, present your imaginative and prescient and develop a plan to realize it with a view to appeal to others. This powerful message is one that ladies in architecture and design fields need to listen to more typically.

inter*ARCHITECTURE’s Lawrenceville Container, Lawrenceville, Pittsburgh, PA, accomplished in 2014. Photograph: lawrencevillecontainer.com.

Location: Pittsburgh, PA

Founder: Ivette Mongalo-Winston

Yr founded: 2013

Number of staff: 1

Ivette Mongalo-Winston working with highschool college students to show them to the fields of architecture and urban design. Courtesy MonWin Consulting.

How have ladies formed the leadership of your agency?

Ladies have impacted my apply by displaying me it’s attainable to be the first, the only, the exception . . . as long as you realize what you need and the way you contribute to the world. Ladies like my mom who took a leap to immigrate to the US, my coach who helped me outline my leadership fashion, and all the ladies who work in a male-dominated business and nonetheless manage to excel and lead. My non-traditional path from architect to policy-maker is partially the outcome of ladies encouraging me to take that subsequent step and to battle for higher outcomes for everybody.

Ivette Mongalo-Winston and her daughter, Sophia, her “inspiration for focusing on women in leadership.” Courtesy of MonWin Consulting.

Places: Pittsburgh, PA

Founders names: Dana Cupkova, Kevin Pratt (†2013)

Yr founded: 2009

Number of staff: Between 1-6


Dana Cupkova on website at the Hsu Home, a small house designed utilizing passive photo voltaic rules to create a cheap, energy-efficient dwelling for a younger family. The railing particulars supply each security and playscape for youngsters. Photograph: Simon Wheeler.

Do you see progress with regards to the recognition of ladies in architecture and design?

We now have an extended option to go to interrupt the affiliation of wisdom and accomplishment with male position models. My personal and professional life has been formed by robust ladies with a bent to remain out of the general public eye. Probably the most formative drive in my improvement as a designer was Debora Reiser of RUR Structure. Deby is the invisible pressure behind the expertise and rigor of many modern architects like Nanako Umemoto, Laurie Hawkinson, and Hani Rashid. She is a mentor, educator, critic, and detail genius whose work is beautiful, mysterious, and soulful. She continues to be working and designing in her 90’s. She taught me that the normal notion of skilled apply may be overwritten by a way of design with empathy.

Senyai, Vaulted Acoustics, Pittsburgh, PA, built by Epiphyte Lab in 2017. As founder Dana Cupkova describes, “Epiphyte Lab’s first built project in Pittsburgh was a Thai restaurant Senyai, produced collaboratively with CMU architecture students. The design was centered on a ceiling inspired by the vaulted geometry of ancient Thai architecture. The geometry is formed by a series of 275 unique vertical slats that suggest a continuous surface as a backdrop for light and sound. No two slats, or vaults, are alike. I always strive to bridge academic research and design practice, and Senyai was designed and built partially as a learning experience in making and digital fabrication at CMU. I believe that the best projects are the ones where the shared experience of creating them goes beyond the personal sense of accomplishment and towards collective enjoyment.” Photograph: Massery Images.

Location: Lawrenceville, Pittsburgh

Founders: Christine Brill, AIA and Jonathan Kline

Yr based: 2008

Number of staff: three companions, 1 part-time employee

Studio for Spatial Apply companions (from left to right) Jonathan Kline, Christine Brill, AIA, and Jen Gallagher on the Arsenal Steps in Lawrenceville when Jen joined the follow in October 2013. Photograph: Kathleen Slattery.

What could possibly be completed to enable more ladies to hold leadership roles inside the structure/design subject more broadly?

All of us at SfSP had labored for bigger architecture, landscape structure, and urban design companies early in our careers. Discovering a option to rise by means of the ranks or set up a work-life stability that allowed for versatile scheduling—to boost youngsters and train part-time at a university, for example—did not seem potential in a standard office. With our personal firm, we stability our personal and professional lives in probably the most healthy approach for us. We consider that extra flexibility in work schedules, with out docking upward mobility, would enormously assist everyone within the career.

Dining room of Superior Motors, Braddock, PA, accomplished by Studio for Spatial Follow in July 2017. SfSP companions Christine Brill and Jen Gallagher say, “We love to work with other women when we can! We collaborated with on Superior Motors with Standard + Custom, an architectural products and furniture design-build company founded by Lexi Chung and Filip Agren.”  Photograph: Jonathan Kline.

Location: Manchester, Pittsburgh

Founder: Cherie H. Moshier, AIA

Yr founded: 1998

Quantity of staff: 5

The workforce at Moshier Studio. From left to proper: Founder Cherie H. Moshier, AIA, Gary P. Moshier, AIA, Leanne O’Toole, Kevin Kenna, AIA, and Emel Guner-Ekin, Assoc AIA. Courtesy Moshier Studio.

Do you see progress relating to the popularity of ladies in architecture and design?

Definitely. Although architectural faculties achieved stability in gender a while in the past, ladies are becoming extra seen in leadership roles in bigger companies. We’re also beginning our own companies. We are fortunate to be able to group incessantly with other women-owned companies on tasks. Since structure is a workforce effort, improved recognition of all the gifted individuals involved can notably benefit ladies architects who is probably not the named companion on a challenge.

Featured challenge: Cumberland Group Middle, Cumberland MD

Cumberland Group Middle, Cumberland MD. Photograph: Jeannette Hunt Images.