AIA at FA: “The Resilient Practice”

By Rebecca Gilbert

A few weeks ago, Feldman Architecture hosted a panel of successful women architects to discuss “The Resilient Practice” which was part of  the 15th annual Architecture + the City festival co-presented by the AIA San Francisco and Center for Architecture + Design. The architects discussed resiliency in two cases, first as architects who are meeting the challenges of a constantly evolving design and build process, and second as women who are succeeding in a historically male-dominated profession.

In the first case, the panelists described resiliency as the ability to adapt and find one’s career path in the context of an environment which is increasingly demanding architects to step outside of the comfort zone of pure design and into adjacent disciplines.  In this case, we understand their career paths as mirroring the heightened complexity of constructing or re-purposing structures in our increasingly urbanized existence.  The success of our careers requires us to meet this challenge – the growth of cities demands it.  The panelist discussed everyday examples of this concept.  Offices are expanding shared work spaces to foster interdisciplinary collaboration, embracing diverse educational backgrounds, and investing in technology to meet a faster design and construction cadence.

In the second case, the panelists understand that resiliency in the practice of architecture will require more equitable representation of women.  As our panelists astutely observed, while enrollment in architecture programs is increasing, growth in licensed female architects is lacking.  In some cases, technology, like remote working, is creating opportunities that did not previously exist.  In other cases as our panelist have shown, the path to workplace equality is knowing one’s worth and having the will and initiative to realize it. For these panelists, evolving with the increasing complexity of architecture has been a defining feature of their success.

Its encouraging that AIA SF has created a platform for women to discuss these issues and move the dialogue forward. I left that evening feeling inspired and lucky to be surrounded by such a supportive and progressive architectural community.