Believed to be the second African-American woman licensed as an architect in the U.S., Topeka, Kan.–born Georgia Louise Harris Brown (1918-99) emigrated to Brazil because it offered greater opportunities for women of color. She is one of 50 women profiled in the new website Pioneering Women of American Architecture, launched by the New York–based Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation (BWAF) last week.
Created after five years of research with the support of the National Endowment for the Arts, the educational site highlights women born before 1940—a time when “women struggled both to be allowed entrance into the architectural profession and to be recognized for their work,” write foundation co-directors Mary McLeod and Victoria Rosner.
While some of the profiled women are “not well known, even among architectural historians,” each made critical contributions to American architecture and the built environment of the 20th century—largely between 1880 and 1980. Some of the better-known entrants include designer Ray Eames; Pulitzer Prize–winning architectural critic Ada Louise Huxtable; and Susan Maxman, FAIA, the first female president of the AIA.
BWAF plans to add more profiles to the website next year, writing that "the 50 women profiled here are just a beginning of an effort that we hope will continue to expand as more women’s lives and careers are added to the historical record. Going forward, we hope this project can move architecture created by women to the center of architectural history and invite more young women to study and practice of architecture."