Julia Morgan

2014 AIA GOLD MEDAL: The Californian architect was the first woman to win the profession's highest honor, albeit posthumously, for setting a standard in Beaux Arts and Arts and Crafts style within almost 700 pieces of realized architecture--most of which still stands today due to her love for reinforced concrete.

Firm Description


A pivotal figure in the history of American architecture and American women, Julia Morgan accomplished a litany of firsts she used to establish a new precedent for greatness. A building technology expert who was professionally adopted by some of the most powerful post–Gilded Age patrons imaginable, Morgan practiced for nearly 50 years and designed more than 700 buildings of almost every type, including houses, churches, hotels, commercial buildings, and museums. The first woman admitted to the prestigious architecture school at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, Morgan designed comfortably in a wide range of historic styles.

Although by the time of her death, in 1957, she would see her Beaux-Arts background overshadowed by the rise of Modernism, reappraisals of her work make it clear that her approach to building materials and construction was more forward-looking than initially thought. Recognition with the AIA Gold Medal is also an opportunity to reassess Morgan’s social significance, a fact not lost on Denise Scott Brown, who went without a Pritzker Prize in 1991 when her husband Robert Venturi, FAIA, was honored for the work both of them had done. “Her work mirrored the social and economic burgeoning of California and the changing roles of women,” Scott Brown wrote in a letter of recommendation. “Now that we are taking off our blinders, we can see Morgan’s greatness. Including her now will help the profession diversify its offerings to include greater richness and creativity of expression.”


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