10 Female-Led Firms at the Forefront of Architecture

These A+Award-winning studios are spearheaded by bold women who are taking the design world by storm.

Architizer Editors Architizer Editors

Celebrate a decade of inspirational design with us! The 10th Annual A+Awards is officially underway, and the Main Entry Deadline is December 17, 2021Click here to start your entry today.

According to a report published by ACSA in 2020, the number of female students and applicants in architecture programs has been steadily rising towards parity. The industry should take heart in this statistic; at present, only 25% of working architects in the United States identify as women. (Comparatively, the Bureau of Labor Statistics points out that 36% of lawyers and 41% of physicians and surgeons are women.)

While the path to licensure can be especially difficult for mothers, gender inequity is magnified in the industry’s awards lists and in management (especially when it comes to big banner firms). In short, while more and more women are stepping into the field, there is still work to be done across the AEC industry. One step is to increase the visibility of existing female leaders. Bearing this in mind, the following list celebrates ten female-led A+Award-winning studios who are taking the design world by the storm.


Diana Kellogg Architects

New York, New York | Founded 1992

Rajkumari Ratnavati Girl’s School by Diana Kellogg Architects, Jaisalmer, India, Project of the Year, 2021 A+Awards
Jury Winner, 2021 A+Awards, Primary & High Schools; Jury Winner, 2021 A+Awards, Architecture +For Good

Since its inception in 1992, Diana Kellogg’s eponymous studio has transitioned from high-end residential projects into non-profit work, culimating in the Rajkumari Ratnavati Girl’s School, which won three A+Awards in 2021 (including Project of the Year!). Across their wide-ranging portfolio, a deep consideration for the nature of the site and its historic context stands at the heart of their designs — may it be a loft in New York or a School in India.


Studio Gang

Chicago, Illinois | Founded 1997

Solar Carve (40 Tenth Ave) by Studio Gang, New York, NY. Images by Tom Harris. Project of the Year, 2020 A+Awards
Jury Winner, 2020 A+Awards, Office – Mid-Rise (5-15 Floors)

Beloit College Powerhouse by Studio Gang, New York, NY. Images by Tom Harris. 
Jury Winner & Popular Choice, 2021 A+Awards, Gyms & Recreation Centers

With Jeanne Gang in charge, the studio has been making headlines with its diverse body of work and forward-thinking, socially conscious and experimental approach. Over the years, their various responses to project briefs — whether though explorations of sunlight and architecture, or large-scale adaptive reuse — has landed the studio on numerous awards lists. They projects such as Eleanor Boathouse at Park 571, One Hundred, Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation and Solar Carve (40 Tenth Ave), the practice is decorated with A+Awards.


Sharon Davis Design

New York, New York | Founded 2007

Women’s Opportunity Center by Sharon Davis Design, Kayonza, Rwanda
Jury Winner & Popular Choice, 2015 A+Awards, Architecture +Community

Since 2007, this innovative New York-based firm has married aesthetic aspirations with intended social benefits. Indeed, the studio is widely known for its work with non-profit organizations, and for finding creative solutions that are both cost-effective and energy-efficient. Known for their ability to harmonize built and natural worlds, the Women’s Opportunity Center in Rwanda and Bayalpata Hospital in Nepal are two of their most iconic projects, both which seek to to empower community and build social infrastructure.


Colwell Shelor Landscape Architecture

Pheonix, Arizona | Founded 2009

Ghost Wash by Colwell Shelor Landscape Architecture, Paradise Valley, AZ, United States
Jury Winner, 2021 A+Awards, Private Garden

The Phoenix-based landscape design firm is the brainchild of Allison Colwell and Michele Shelor. They made it to the Architizer hall of fame with the landscape design for Ghost Wash, which saw the dramatic transformation of a dry, desert landscape into a lush oasis with the help of native, drought-tolerant species. Across their work, the firm aims to devise sustainable projects that also improve the lives of the inhabitants.


Toshiko Mori Architect

New York, New York | Dounded 1981

Fass School and Teachers’ Residences by Toshiko Mori Architect, Senegal
Jury Winner, 2020 A+Awards, Primary & High School

Thread Artist Residency by Toshiko Mori Architect, Sinthian, Senegal
Jury Winner, 2016 A+Awards, Architecture +Humanitarianism; Jury Winner, 2016 A+Awards, Architecture +Community

Toshiko Mori has been a force within the AEC industry for nearly four decades. Her firm has produced award-winning work across several different typologies and scales. The team’s responsiveness to local culture and context is evident in their projects Fass School and Teachers’ Residences and Thread Artist Residency, both in Senegal and inspired by vernacular precedents using local, traditional skills and materials.


vgzarquitectura

Mexico City, Mexico | Founded 2003

Piedra Sal by vgzarquitectura, Mexico City, Mexico
Popular Choice, 2019 A+Awards, Restaurants

Since 2003, Verónica González Zavala has led a small but mighty firm of less than ten designers. Sensitivity to the environment and use of natural light, sustainable technologies and materials are some of the studio’s core design principles, while consulting and construction services are also offered as a testament to their detail-oriented expertise. Their project Piedra Sal demonstrates this values — everything from the grey concrete floor to the liana ceiling to the black clay lamps in between was custom designed and manufactured.


Formafatal

Prague, Czechia | Founded 2015

Art Villas Costa Rica | Atelier Villa by Formafatal, Pérez Zeledón, Costa Rica
Popular Choice, 2020 A+Awards, Private House (L 3000 – 5000 sq ft)

Autentista Wine Bar by Formafatal, Prague, Czechia 

While Dagmar Štěpánová’s studio Formafatal has a wide body of work, it is best known for its interior and residential projects. Their stunning, A+Award-winning Art Villas Costa Rica | Atelier Villa, with its discreet wall colors, aluminium perforated sections and green roof, just one such example. The studio often collaborates with local artists and manufacturers; their interest in bespoke furniture not only fosters collaboration, but also stimulates local growth.


Studio 10

Shenzhen, China | Founded 2017

Dream and Maze by Studio 10, Guilin, China. Images by Chao Zhang

Hall of Immortality at Longshan Cemetary by Studio 10, Henan China. Images by Chao Zhang
Jury Winner, 2021 A+Awards, Religious Buildings & Memorials

Founded by Zhou Shi in 2017, Studio 10 is an architecture, interior and product design firm based in ​​Shenzhen and Hong Kong. The firm believes in taking a unique approach for every project and paying attention to detail at every level. This is seen in their enigmatic project for the Hall of Immortality at Longshan Cemetary. More than a physical space or a functional program, the design spoke to the human condition, challenging visitors to confront mortality.


ahylo architects

Athens, Greece | Founded 2009

Technopolis Auditorium: an acoustic device by ahylo architects, Athens, Greece. Image by Andreas Markou
Jury Winner, 2021 A+Awards, Architecture +Ceilings; Popular Choice, 2021 A+Awards, Hall/Theatre

Ahylo, helmed by Loulietta Zindrou, is one of the rising architecture practices in Athens. The firm derives its name from the Greek word for “the matter”. Their objective is to sculpt light, volume and matter to shape unforgettable spaces. They achieve this by using advanced technologies and parametric forms. Their project Technopolis Auditorium: an acoustic device won two A+Awards this year for its sculptural ceiling and remarkable ambience.


B² Architecture

Prague, Czechia | Founded 2012

DDB Prague Office by B² Architecture, Prague, Czechia. Image by Alexander Dobrovodsky
Jury Winner, 2021 A+Awards, Architecture +Branding

Attic Loft Reconstruction by B² Architecture, Prague, Czechia. Image by Alexandra Timpau

The Prague-based architecture and design studio, founded by Barbara Bencova in 2012, works on a range of projects, from housing to public space. Attention to detail and the use of dark accents or geometric forms is a trail that can be found in many of the projects designed by the 3-person, all-female team. Take as an example their work on the DDB Prague Office, which stages a journey for visitors based around anamorphic optical illusion.

Research and editorial contributions by Nidhi Upadhyaya. Looking for further inspiration? Check out Architizer’s comprehensive list of 100 innovative women in architecture, each of whom is helping to shape the future of the built environment.

Celebrate a decade of inspirational design with us! The 10th Annual A+Awards is officially underway, and the Main Entry Deadline is December 17, 2021Click here to start your entry today.
© Michael Hsu Office of Architecture

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