Centerbrook Architects’ 2010 Lecture Series Kicks Off With Beverly Willis

September 8, 2010

Beverly Willis Self Portrait

We’re looking forward to a group of very exciting speakers this year. We’re kicking it off with Beverly Willis, FAIA on Friday, October 15th at 7 p.m. in the auditorium at Essex Meadows, 30 Bokum Road, Essex. Willis is President of the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation which she founded in 2002, following a 50-year career in architectural and design practice, beginning as a multi-media artist.  Among the award-winning architecture projects in her extensive portfolio are the Union Street Stores (1965), the Margaret Hayward Park Building (1978), and the San Francisco Ballet Building (1983).  She holds a fine arts degree from the University of Hawaii and an honorary doctorate from Mt. Holyoke College.  Her art has been exhibited at the Cooper Hewitt Museum and Honolulu Academy of Art. She authored Invisible Images—The Silent Language of Architecture, published in 1997 by the National Building Museum. Ms. Willis’ Foundation promotes research and public understanding of women’s contributions to the fields of architectural and environmental engineering, landscape design, the building arts, urban planning and historic preservation, as well as architectural history and criticism.

Her talk will include a showing of the 15-minute film “A Girl Is A Fellow Here” ~ 100 Women Architects in the Studio of Frank Lloyd Wright. At a time when few architectural firms would hire women, Frank Lloyd Wright unhesitatingly employed women, giving them both training and the opportunity to practice.  Ultimately, over 100 women architects and designers worked with Wright, many of them going on to remarkable careers of their own. In his studio in Oak Park and at both Taliesin Fellowships, Wright trained and practiced with women as draftsmen, designers, and fellow visionaries. “A Girl Is A Fellow Here”: 100 Women Architects in the Studio of Frank Lloyd Wright focuses on six of those women – Marion Mahony, Isabel Roberts, Lois Gottlieb, Jane Duncombe, Eleanore Pettersen, and Read Weber.  Through their work and their own words, they reveal what they gleaned from Wright and where they departed from his model. Who they were, how they came to architecture, what they learned from The Master, and where their careers ultimately took them emerge from filmed and audio interviews…and their own architecture.  Under Wright’s guidance, from Oak Park to the Arizona Taliesin, they learned their craft and honed their ideas; they split wood and laid shingles; they dreamed and drew and designed.  After they left Wright’s studio, they created thousands of projects across the country.  Houses and hospitals, churches and libraries, theaters and wineries: from California to Florida, their architecture endures. They are Frank Lloyd Wright’s unknown legacy, and their practice forms a legacy for all women working in architecture today.

Photos of Taliesin West; Credit: The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation