“[Julia] Morgan believed her buildings would speak for her,” architect Beverly Willis said at the American Institute of Architects’ annual convention in Chicago on Saturday. Morgan, the first woman to receive the AIA’s highest honor, was honored onstage as part of the final keynote event of the conference.
Unfortunately, for her modesty, Morgan, who died in 1957, was largely skimmed-over in the architectural history books. “We women who graduated in the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s were denied the incredible role model of a successful practitioner,” Willis, who opened Beverly Willis Architects in 1958, said. That’s no small matter in a field where many women still report facing sexual harassment and discrimination. “As recently as 1978, the president of the AIA declared to the press that he would never hire a woman architect,” Willis said. “On behalf of these women architects, I express our collective and respectful anger.”
“Historically important women designers are still not in the history books,” Willis observed, but regardless, “this is a proud moment for us all,” she said.