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AIA Pittsburgh Spotlight on MBA for National Women’s Month

For National Women’s Month, AIA Pittsburgh is partnering with Point Line Projects to highlight some of the women architects and designers making an impact in Southwestern PA. In honor of International Women’s Day, we’re showcasing some of our region’s woman-owned firms.

Link to feature here.

Architecture is one of few industries where women have the means to build literal glass ceilings. That doesn’t mean they let metaphorical glass ceilings keep them from pursuing leadership positions.

We know that women are underrepresented in architecture workplaces compared to the number of women graduating from architecture since the early 1970s, but the picture is changing—if slowly. According to the AIA’s 2018 Firm Survey, the share of women architecture staff has increased from 28% to 35% over the past 10 years, and architecture staff of color has increased from 22% to 27%. These numbers are expected to continue to grow, with women comprising 40% of emerging professionals on the path to licensure.

Groups like the AIA San Francisco’s Equity by Design initiative have sought to better understand the barriers to higher retention and success rates by women and people of color in architecture, and a new study examines the impacts of caregiving, student debt, pay equity, and workplace values in retaining and supporting diverse talent.

For many Pittsburgh women, promoting positive change in the industry starts at their own firms. Whether through visionary design, participatory practice, or interdisciplinary collaboration, these eight women-owned firms are leading by example and earning international accolades across many areas of practice.  Here, firm 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 thoughts on the joys and challenges of practice today, and where they hope to see the field go in the future.

Mary Barensfeld Architecture

Locations: Pittsburgh and San Francisco

Founder: Mary Barensfeld, AIA

Year founded: 2013

Mary Barensfeld, AIA, founder of Mary Barensfeld Architecture, photographed in her Hilgard Garden project in San Francisco. Photo: Joe Fletcher.

 How do you celebrate women in architecture through your work?

I like to think of each built Mary Barensfeld Architecture project as a stake in the ground along women’s march towards equality in the design fields.

Mary Barensfeld, AIA, reflects on an ongoing project: 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.”


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