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Building Talent: Women, Patronage, and Mentoring

UB Gender Institute Symposium


Please join us for the UB Gender Institute Symposium, co-sponsored by the School of Architecture and Planning:

Building Talent: Women, Patronage, and Mentoring

Tuesday, October 22, 3:00-7:00 pm

Greatbatch Pavilion, Darwin Martin House Complex

125 Jewett Pkwy, Buffalo, NY 14214

Free and open to the public (please RSVP to Becky Burke, or call 716-645-5200)

Throughout the history of the profession, the architect has been engaged in service to a client. Typically, but not always, that client has selected his/her architect and the two work together to realize a project. However, at times that relationship transcends the typical and a true partnership is born. Many of our most famous architects were the beneficiaries of such relationships. The clients would act as mentors and patrons to the architect. These noteworthy clients funded the architects’ most important work and often protected the integrity of their designs against obstacles that can derail a project such as a restrictive budget or competing design agendas. 

Darwin Martin’s influence on Frank Lloyd Wright’s career is an example of this and is well documented. Through Martin’s support, Wright received two of the most important commissions of his young career - the Larkin Building and Martin’s own home, both of which are highly significant buildings in American architecture. Mies van der Rohe also benefitted from a similar relationship with the Bronfman family, in particular Phyllis Bronfman Lambert, resulting in the Seagrams Building commission. 

But what about women architects - have they enjoyed such patronage, especially from women? Julia Morgan enjoyed a long-standing friendship with Phoebe Hearst and other members of the Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority, resulting in her commission for the YWCA in Oakland and Asilomar. Through Mrs. Hearst, Morgan met her son William Randolph Hearst, who became the most influential and important client of her career. Louise Bethune enjoyed loyal patronage. Nonetheless, as the first woman architect in the U.S., she was continually rejected by potential women clients, the most notorious resulting in the Women’s Building Design Competition at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago. These missed opportunities arguably prevented Bethune from developing a nationally recognized portfolio and practice. The question becomes: how can women help women to “lean in” and develop nationally recognized careers in architecture?

This symposium will explore the mentoring of the young architect and the role that a client can have on an architect’s career. Architecture, more than many other careers, is contingent upon the mentoring process. This mentorship begins in architecture school and can continue throughout an architect’s career, but is essential in the early years in the profession. Licensure is based partially on mentorship. How can strong mentoring from women assist women entering the profession to lay a solid foundation on which to build a successful career?  

The symposium will explore the importance of the client/user relationship to the architectural process and the influence that more women in leadership roles can have on women in the profession of architecture.


3:00     Opening remarks by Robert Shibley, Dean of the UB School or Architecture & Planning; and Kari Winter, Director of the UB Gender Institute

3:10       Louise Bethune and Julia Morgan - a historical comparison of mentoring, patronage and women in architecture: Kelly Hayes McAlonie

3:30       Viewing of "A Girl is a Fellow Here - 100 Women Architects in the Studio of Frank Lloyd Wright," followed by a conversation on mentoring and the development of the architect: Beverly Willis, Wanda Bubriski and Jack Quinan, moderator

4:15       Break

4:30       Women in architecture today and how mentoring can advance their careers: Lori Brown 

5:00       The role of the client in design and the development of the architect: Susan Chin 

5:30       Who is the client and how can the client transform the profession?  Marika Shiori-Clark

6:00       Closing remarks and panel discussion:  Joyce Hwang

6:30       Reception


  • Beverly Willis, Founder, Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation
  • Wanda Bubriski, Executive Director Emeritus, Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation
  • Marika Shiori-Clark, Principal SOSHL Studio
  • Susan Chin, Vice President AIA, Design Trust for Public Space, previously Deputy Commissioner NYC Dept. of Cultural Affairs
  • Lori Brown, Associate Professor of Architecture, Syracuse University
  • Kelly Hayes McAlonie, Interim Director, UB Capital Planning Group
  • Joyce Hwang, Professor, UB School of Architecture and Planning
  • Jack Quinan, Professor, UB Department of Visual Studies and Frank Lloyd Wright scholar