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Chicago Women in Architecture Celebrates 40 Years with Exhibition

 In honor of the all-female architecture association's 40th birthday, the Chicago Architecture Foundation will launch a tribute to members' work.
Chicago Women in Architecture Celebrated
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THE LOOP — To celebrate 40 years of supporting the work of female architects, Chicago Women in Architecture will launch a six-month exhibition of members' work at the Chicago Architecture Foundation Thursday.

"Women Building Change" will provide "a platform for us to be able to point to specific projects, and show the public that these projects — which have some significant locations in the city — are done by women," said CWA President Gail Cavanagh.

Cavanagh said she had admired the Millennium Park bike shelter for months before she found out it was designed by Cindy Muller.

"I had no idea — I thought it was another guy," Cavanagh said. "And I'm in the group!"

Lizzie Schiffman explains why the organization wants to showcase the achievements of female architects:

CWA anniversary committee chairwoman Marsha Spencer says anecdotes like these speak to the importance of increasing the visibility of female architects.

"After 40 years, we realized that our current mission is still necessary in the profession," Spencer said. "Even though in [architecture] schools, men and women are about equal 50-50, by the time you get a few years out the ratio drops to only 17 percent women.

"The [CWA] is still necessary to help us equalize those problems."

Displays will include architectural drawings, photos and other visuals of local buildings and the work of local architects.

Programming for the exhibition, which runs through December, includes workshops, tours and lectures, like the free "Lunch Talks" series June 18 and Sept. 3 at 12:15 at the Architecture Foundation at 224 S. Michigan Ave.

The exhibition coincides with the American Institute of Architects National Convention, which will be held in Chicago for the first time in 10 years June 26–28.

Founded in 1974, Chicago Women in Architecture is a not-for-profit, volunteer organization that exists as a forum for women in architecture and related professions. The primary goal of CWA is to advance the status of women in the design professions by increasing their visibility, providing mentorship, and advocating for professional issues.

Its diverse membership includes architects, designers, planners, engineers, educators, landscape architects, students, and many other professionals whose careers parallel the field of architecture.