The image of the architect is undeniably gendered. While the male architect might be celebrated as the ideal man in Hollywood romantic comedies, blessed with practicality and creativity in equal measure to impeccable taste and an enviable lifestyle, the image of the woman architect is not so clear cut. While women have been practicing and excelling in architecture for more than a hundred years, their professional identity, as constructed in the media, is complex and sometimes contradictory. This book explores the working lives and aspirations of women in architectural practice, but more than this it explores how popular media – newspapers, magazines, and websites – serve to define and describe who a woman architect should be, what she should look like and how she should behave. Looking further, into the way that professional characteristics are reinforced through awards like the Pritzker Prize, the book demonstrates how idealised characteristics such as sensitivity and vision are seen to be neither entirely masculine nor feminine, but instead a complex hybrid owing much to historic concepts of genius. Drawing on history, sociology, media analysis and feminist theories of architectural practice, the book will be of interest to all of those who seek to better understand the image and identity of the architect.
This book was published as a double special issue of Architectural Theory Review.