OPEN CALL – Pioneer women of Latin American Landscape Architecture

The Latin American Landscape Initiative LALI invites all its members to initiate a thorough search throughout our continent for the work of the pioneer women of Landscape Architecture.

The Latin American Landscape Initiative (LALI) is a declaration of core ethical principles to promote the recognition, valuation, preservation, management and sustainable planning of the Latin American Landscape.

On behalf of the International Archive of Women in Architecture Center (IAWA) we would like to make you aware of our commitment to the preservation of the work of women in architecture, landscape architecture, urbanism, and the related design fields, and our great desire to preserve the invaluable contributions of the first Women of Latin American Landscape Architecture.

The IAWA began three decades ago, in the belief that women’s contributions to the built environment will continue to be neglected if information is not easily available. Valuable materials of work and practice have already been lost to history. These materials often disappear since, unlike pieces of art, they may not seem to carry an obvious value. However, for the history of our professions these documents are priceless.

In order to help present a balanced view of our disciplines and foster research, the IAWA seeks to collect: entire archives of the work of pioneering women in architecture and related fields; complete project archives by women involved in design problems who have had significant influence on the profession; and individual pieces of work such as sketches, diagrams, and drawings from emerging women in design fields. Collected materials include, in addition to drawings and sketches, original manuscripts, books, catalogs, resumes and other biographical material, drafting tools, professional stamps, personal diaries, professional and personal photos, models, art, professional and personal correspondence, any article or item that might reveal aspects of the woman.

The IAWA includes over 400 collections of women architects and designers, and the records of women’s architectural organizations from around the world. All materials are housed in the Special Collections Department of the University Libraries from Virginia Tech, where they are stored in a temperature and humidity controlled environment with limited access monitored by the Libraries Special Collections Department as directed by the IAWA Center Archivist.

Celebrating its 30th anniversary the IAWA Center hosted in July 2015 the 18th International UIFA Congress (International Union of Female Architects) in Washington DC and Blacksburg, where Virginia Tech’s Campus is located, to attract women from around the world to visit in person the IAWA and its collections, learn about its existence, and consider donating work to the archive; or suggest work from their respective countries that the IAWA should find and preserve.

The IAWA searches, with greater urgency, the work of women practicing before and during the XX century, pre-digital era, that have been pioneers in some form, even if subtle, as well as of those women that are considering retiring from practice in the near future.

Some notable examples present in the IAWA collections are: the first woman to graduate in the United States, the first woman licensed in Pakistan, the woman that invented the “H” brick, the first educator, two apprentices of Frank Lloyd Wright, the woman that founded her own business manufacturing artificial stone at the end of the XVIII century in London, women that impelled social housing in post-war Europe, among many others. One hundred of the collections of the IAWA hold the complete work of the architects, becoming a unique resource for research. The remaining women have donated projects and periodically send work to the IAWA, increasing their collections.

The IAWA Center is directed by an international board of prominent practitioners and academics, chaired by Donna Dunay FAIA, professor of architecture at Virginia Tech. The center publicizes the collections worldwide through lectures, symposia, exhibitions, the IAWA website, research projects, and the annual IAWA Center News received by 2000 friends, organizations, and universities worldwide.

Every year, the Center offers the Milka Bliznakov Research Prize for significant projects to conduct research within the IAWA to honor founder Milka Bliznakov.

In its mission to expand its reach the IAWA Center has begun the process of digitizing the collections to facilitate remote access of its contents through the New Visual Archive, currently in progress; and plans to launch in the next year the initial call for articles and projects for the first issue of the IAWA Journal.

It is important to start opening collections for the work of creative women committed to Architecture and Landscape in Latin America. LALI and IAWA understand this work as a collective effort.

On behalf of the Latin American Landscape Initiative LALI and the International Archive of Women in Architecture Center IAWA we now accept suggestions and appreciate the dissemination and broadcasting of this call !

To donate collections, make inquiries about IAWA or suggest names please contact Paola Zellner pazb@vt.edu

School of Architecture + Design Secretary, Board of Advisors, 

International Archive of Women in Architecture Center (IAWA)

Virginia Tech Cowgill Hall, RM 201 (0205) 1325 Perry St. Blacksburg, VA 2406

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