2.20.2015

The End is Nigh: Finishing the AREs

I'm still not sure how it happened, but last weekend I took my seventh (but not final) ARE, bringing me up to all seven exam attempts in the span of one year.  The good news is that I passed, which means I have only one exam left to pass!  In all, I'm pretty pleased with my progress; aside from failing Site Planning, things have gone relatively smoothly, although it's been a grueling and painful experience.  I don't think there's a better way to do it, though, and I'm glad I pushed myself to get it done in a year, rather than drag it out over a longer period of time.

Here's the original schedule I set myself, which would have had me complete everything last year:
March - PPP
April - SPD
June - Structural Systems (SS)
July - Schematic Design (SD)
September - Building Systems (BS)
October - Building Design & Construction Systems (BDCS)
November - Construction Documents & Services (CDS)

And here's the schedule I actually followed:
March (2014) - PPP
April - SPD
June - SS
July - SD
September - BS
November - BDCS
February (2015) - CDS
March - SPD re-take scheduled

The delay was partly due to a lack of available test dates on weekends (after taking SPD and SS on weekdays, I vowed to take all the other ones on Saturdays to lower my stress levels), and mostly due to my decision to take a break over the holidays.  I didn't study at all in November or December, and then started back up in January this year for the final two.  This gave me a much needed mental break, and I'm glad I spaced it out.  I also needed more time to study for BDCS than I initially thought - it was a pretty difficult one.

I'm finally starting to think about what I want to do once the exams are over, and it's hard to decide!  There are so many interesting projects I could tackle now that I have my weeknights back.  I just hope that I can motivate myself to spend my time well, rather than languishing on Facebook as it's so easy to do.  

To my architecture friends who are still on the journey, I wish I had some humorous wisdom to dispense, now that I've taken all the tests, but I think the fun has been beaten out of me.  Here's the best I can do to sum up my recommendations:
  • All you have to do is pass.  For each test, I aimed to get about 75% of the questions correct; as long as I was getting roughly 75% right on the practice tests, I figured that would be sufficient, and it was.  Don't over-study so you can get every question right - there's no gold medal for acing it, and you won't even find out how you did beyond pass or fail.
  • Don't neglect the vignettes.  Those "fatal errors" are for real, and I think that's what killed me on Site Planning.
  • Most of the content is actually relevant, so think of the exams as a crash course in applied architecture, rather than a waste of your time.  I have experienced most of what I studied on real projects in the field, and if you think of it as a way to get exposed to many different parts of architectural practice, rather than just a hoop to jump through, you won't go crazy as fast when you're on your 50th week of studying.  (This is in contrast to LEED and AIA continuing education, much of which really is a waste of time!)
  • Take breaks when you need them.  Don't make yourself crazy.
  • Use the study materials that work for you, and don't waste time on the rest.  For me, that meant I ignored all the flash cards, but took every practice test I could find.  It was enough.
  • Remember that there are ADA questions on every exam!
I'm not quite home free, but I can see the light at the end.  I can't wait to find out what post-ARE life is like!  In the meantime, I'm happy to answer any non-test-content-specific questions that you have; send me a note, and good luck!



1.06.2015

Happy 2015!

In honor of the new year, here's some stuff I made.

For my sister, freehand painted Toms Classics, inspired by a painting of her choice:




I used regular acrylic paint, then covered the painted areas with a few layers of matte Mod Podge to protect them.  Now I just need to decide on what to paint on my own pair!

For my family, 3D-printed holiday ornaments:




I used the Makerbot Replicator 3D printer at my office (thanks, CAW!) to print the text.  I chose fonts in Illustrator, exported to Rhino, edited the text so the letters would form a continuous piece, then made them 3D and imported them into the Makerbot software.  The ornaments themselves are generic wood ornaments I bought on Amazon, with holes pre-drilled, then painted with acrylic.  The hangers are jute twine.  I thought they came out pretty well!  I was inspired by these ornaments from Crate & Barrel, which are ceramic, not wood, but maybe next year I'll get fancier.  These were inexpensive and easy to make, plus they used 3D printing!

And I nearly forgot: from earlier this year, my very first 3D printed object, a TARDIS.





Extra thanks to Jon at my office for helping me learn how to use the Makerbot.  I can take no credit at all for this one, since I downloaded the TARDIS object file from the 3D warehouse online, and simply hit "print."  But it's so adorable!

Hopefully coming soon: some posts with more thought to them.  Til then, Happy New Year and my apologies for lame cell phone photography!

11.16.2014

Thoughts on Architectural Licensure

About a month ago, I applied for a scholarship that would have covered the cost of my architecture license (including the cost of exams and registration, approximately $2000 total).  Unfortunately, I was not selected.  I would like to thank everyone who helped with my application, including my colleagues at work and my fellow board members of Silicon Valley Odyssey of the Mind.  I really appreciate the time you took to provide me with recommendation letters and support for my application!  Next year I will no longer be eligible, so this was my one shot at the scholarship.  I am still planning to go ahead with my license, so I hope no one thinks this has discouraged me.  In fact, there are many reasons I think licensure is important, and I wanted to share the essay that I wrote about it as part of the scholarship application process.  The essay prompt asked us to consider the role of the architect in sustainable design.

Essay for the California Architectural Foundation's 2014 Paul W. Welch Jr. ARE Scholarship

The architect's role in making buildings sustainable is to consider not just the environmental sustainability of the project, but to pursue a project's social sustainability, equity, and justice. The architect is uniquely positioned, as leader of the design team and representative of the client, to ensure that a project focuses on social goals, like providing access to services, encouraging community interaction, and reducing inequality. As designers of the spaces where we live, work, play, and even wait for transit, architects have the opportunity and responsibility to create healthy and inviting buildings, neighborhoods, cities, and regions. Where other building professionals are primarily concerned with reducing energy use or resisting seismic forces, the architect's role is to see the far-reaching implications of the project and to design its social impact. When we push our consultants to seek solutions that are more beautiful, more just, more energy-efficient, and no more expensive than other options, we are actually striving for social sustainability. This is neither solely a design nor a technology issue, but an issue of leadership; however, architects must be fluent in both design and technology, since both are needed to achieve the desired result. An architect must draw on all of her resources, including design strategies, technological expertise, ethical reasoning, and multi-dimensional problem-solving, to find the design that can address all aspects of a project, while staying on schedule and within budget.

What motivates me to pursue my architecture license is this surprisingly complex role of the architect, who must hold in balance the client's goals, her own design agenda, and the demands of a world permanently altered by human activity. As I try to follow in the footsteps of sustainability-minded architects like Samuel Mockbee of Auburn's Rural Studio, Cameron Sinclair of Architecture for Humanity, Pritzker Prize laureate Shigeru Ban, and many others, I see the architecture license as a key part of this journey. What I've learned from pursuing my license is that understanding the basics of architectural practice, as is needed for the AREs, is only the beginning of a well-rounded architectural education, which comes from years of experience in the profession. It is this well-rounded experience that will enable me to see the interconnections between building systems, climate, culture, and economy that will result in a sustainable design.

Here in Silicon Valley, one hears the terms “architecture” and “architect” quite often, but not in the context of buildings; rather, the computer industy has appropriated these words because of their evocative qualities. “Architecture” is used to refer to any fundamental computer system that supports other systems, and the “architect” of such a system is the one with the mastery and vision to implement it. “Architect” and “architecture” are powerful words, and we architectural professionals need to understand the power of our designs to create change and affect lives. The built environment is a complex system that is fundamental to our daily life, and its impacts on society and the natural environment are immeasurable. We must look deeper at the relationships between systems of politics, economics, and city planning in order to produce buildings of lasting value. As socially-minded architects, we cannot escape the political aspects of our work, including the health and safety of those who build our buildings; who is welcomed into or excluded from our buildings; how the materials we specify are produced; and even how our clients (including governments and large corporations) treat their own people. Considering this kind of large-scale sustainability is the way to design projects that are truly social-positive, and not just carbon-positive. Recognizing the deep way in which architecture is tied to the political sphere should help us make better decisions both large and small, starting in our own offices with how we treat interns, and extending outward to our interactions with clients, users, and the public.

I believe strongly in the visionary power of architects, who have been trained to solve problems at all scales and to understand the connections between systems that at first glance seem unrelated. Just as environmental sustainability requires all the professionals on a project to work together from the project's inception in order to design the most efficient solution, social sustainability requires a broad vision of what is possible and how we can achieve it. I think that architects are suited to this task in a way that other building professionals are not, and that this gives architectural professionals the responsibility to be leaders. As I work toward licensure here in California, I see so much potential for beautiful, economical buildings that can change lives and renew our environment. I hope that achieving my license will give me the starting point for a lifetime of building toward social sustainability.

10.31.2014

From the Architectural Archives: Decoy Houses

Did you grow up with a "haunted house" in your neighborhood?  It turns out that some buildings that look like houses aren't really houses at all, but are instead the haunts of infrastructure.  I first learned about these decoy houses from BLDGBLOG (Geoff Manaugh's excellent and thought-provoking blog) and found the idea too fascinating to pass over.  Hidden among the ordinary houses in ordinary neighborhoods, buildings that look like houses to the casual observer are actually power substations, water pump stations, subway vents or exits, and more.  Some have been built this way from scratch in order to appease neighbors.  Others are ex-houses, converted from real houses into shells in order to conceal infrastructure or preserve the historic character of a neighborhood.  All of them are a bit spooky.  Here are few for your consideration.

Image courtesy of Autopilot via Wikipedia

58 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn, NY
This is an ex-townhouse, built in the late 19th century as an ordinary house, and converted during the building of the IRT subway into a subway fan station.  Its windows are permanently shut, and a penthouse has been installed to provide the ventilation opening.  Apparently it's on fairly good terms with the neighbors.  The NYTimes wrote about it in 2004.

3215 Wade Avenue, Raleigh, NC
This suburban house was purpose-built as a water pump station to maintain water pressure for the residents of Raleigh.  Built in the 1970s, apparently it was the result of a city effort to satisfy the neighbors, since pump stations are generally loud and ugly, but the city decided one was needed in this existing neighborhood.  The city staff have noted that it receives much less vandalism than the city's other pump stations, which they assume is due to its inconspicuous appearance.  If you look closely, you'll see that it lacks a front walkway, and the windows and front door aren't real.  Check out this neat video from WUNC, and here's the story.

Image courtesy of Sladen via Wikipedia

23 and 24 Leinster Gardens, London, UK
Another false townhouse, but this one was purpose-built, also for use by the subway.  Built in the late 19th century for use by the steam-powered underground, the building is a facade only, five feet thick, to allow steam trains to vent without bothering the neighbors.  The doors and windows are fake.  It plays a minor role in the TV show "Sherlock."

If you'd like to read about more of these, check out Geoff Manaugh's post, where he discusses some Canadian electric sub-stations built to look like houses; several more decoy houses are described in the comments.

I love the idea of pieces of city infrastructure hiding in plain sight, disguised as ordinary buildings.  I think it falls somewhere on the same spectrum with speakers disguised as rocks at Disney World, or trompe l'oeil paintings on the sides of blank ConEd buildings to look like townhouses or smaller-scale buildings, or parking garages made to look like apartment buildings, of which I have seen several in Silicon Valley.  I have mixed feelings, however, about this last decoy architecture.  For some reason, I think concealing necessary shared infrastructure, like electric substations, makes sense, while disguising apartment parking garages, which are large, private buildings, seems odd; perhaps it's because there are so many well-designed garages these days that it feels like a cop-out, or because it seems disingenuous to disguise one building as another.  Hiding machinery or equipment inside a decoy structure is amusing, while hiding one building inside another seems like a failure of imagination.  (Except, of course, in the case of theme parks, which I find fascinating.)

Have you seen any decoy buildings?  What were they hiding?  Send me a picture if you can!

10.15.2014

Rejected from McSweeney's: Fantasy Architecture Film Festival

So you know how sports people are always talking about "fantasy football" or "fantasy baseball" or whatever?  It turns out that they aren't talking about a sports team filled with characters from fantasy novels or films.  (That would be so much more awesome, I know!)  What they mean instead is that they are "fantasizing" about the best team ever, in which they select the players for the different positions from any team.  (Or something like that, the specific workings escape me.)  Well, in the spirit of these fantasy sports enthusiasts, I would like to propose a fantasy architectural film festival, which would include all the films I'd like to show, if I had infinite time and an extremely patient audience.  Here we go!

Obviously
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream Home
Blade Runner
The Truman Show
Metropolis
Labyrinth

The Heroic Architect
The Towering Inferno
Inception
The Fountainhead*
(ok, yes, it's a short category, we aren't very heroic.)

They're in the Walls
Die Hard
Brazil
The Matrix
The Italian Job
Ocean's Eleven
Mission: Impossible
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Pretty much all the heist films

If You Build It, We Will Destroy It With Special Effects
Earthquake
The Towering Inferno (yes, again)
The Day After Tomorrow
Twister (ok, so it's mostly fields, cows, and cars that get destroyed, but some buildings do too!)
Escape From New York**
Ghostbusters***
Jumanji (omg when the floor turns into quicksand?? or when the whole house basically becomes a jungle?? so cool)
Pretty much all the disaster movies
Lots of superhero movies (and I'm looking at you, Transformers franchise)

It's the Future, Stupid
THX-1138
Logan's Run

Of course, there are dozens of other movies where architecture plays a starring role, rather than the part of an extra.  These are just the best ones that I can think of right now.  Also many of the films above could fall into more than one category, so feel free to watch them more than once.  I would.

This post brought to you by inspired by Geoff Manaugh at BLDGBLOG.

(*ironically)
(**not actually filmed in New York)
(***at least partially filmed in New York)

9.20.2014

A Completely BS Exam

My arduous journey through the land of NCARB continued today with the Building Systems (BS) exam.  So far, it's been Caroline: 3, NCARB: 1, and I'm waiting now for the BS results.  I'm feeling quite ambivalent about this one - not as despairing as after Structures, but not at all sure that I passed.  There were quite a few questions that I simply had no idea how to answer.  Nothing to do now but wait.

Since my last ARE-related post, I passed Schematic Design, which, as expected, wasn't too difficult.  I practiced drawing the two vignettes over and over until I was satisfied with my speed.  Even then, I managed to make a mistake on the exam that I only caught after completely finishing my building design, which caused me to have to re-draw nearly from scratch.  Fortunately the practice paid off, and I had enough time to re-draw without too much hyperventilating.  I'm glad that one's done!

My study routine has continued to be: (1) Read all the relevant chapters of Ballast's ARE Review Manual, 2nd edition, 2011; (2) Re-read and take notes on the Ballast chapters; (3) Read all of the Kaplan book; (4) Read through and take the exams in the PPI "Samples Problems and Practice Exam" subject book; (5) Take practice exams from Kaplan, in the "Questions & Answers" book and "ARE Practice Vignettes" book; (6) Study the Dorf manual for the vignettes; (7) Read any useful supplementary material from the web and the NCARB exam guide; (8) Go through the vignette a few times using the free NCARB software, which I've installed on a Windows virtual machine since I have Windows 8 and can't run it directly.  I'm very fortunate that my firm had all of these guides already, so I haven't had to pay for any study materials (although the exams themselves aren't cheap).  My experience has been that the NCARB exam guide is next to useless for preparing for the vignettes, and the best information for those has been in the Dorf guide.  He's got everything figured out and really helps you prioritize your solution and make the best use of your time.  After reading the NCARB guide, I'm almost always left with questions about what is or isn't permitted in the vignette, and Dorf almost always answers these questions.  I didn't know about the Dorf guide when I took Site Planning, but now that I do, I have a much better feeling about re-taking it.

For the BS exam, during my studying I found that this is a difficult exam for the sheer breadth of content more than for the difficulty of the concepts (in contrast to the structural exam).  There was a ton of memorization required.  In retrospect, I wish I had spent more time reviewing after my initial read-throughs, so that I could have absorbed the specific details more thoroughly.  I also wish that I had spent more time reading supplementary information, since even with Kaplan and Ballast together, it didn't feel like enough.

I almost missed studying for the "conveying systems" section of the exam, since the vertical transportation chapter in Ballast is in a different exam section - it's under BDCS, not BS, since it also contains information about stairs that's relevant to BDCS.  I had noticed that Kaplan covered elevators and escalators, but didn't think too much of it, until the night before the exam I read through a colleague's study notes and realized that conveying systems was hiding in that other Ballast section.  Vertical transportation is clearly listed in the NCARB exam guide for BS, but again, I had somehow overlooked it - it's in the same section (Specialties) with acoustics and fire protection, which I definitely had studied.  Don't forget this chapter in Ballast!

My other pet peeve with the BS exam study material (and by extension, with the exam itself) is how it expects you to learn about building systems technology that's already outdated since the exam isn't updated with much frequency.  For example, there was next to nothing about LED lighting in any of the study materials, but at my firm we're specifying nearly 50% LED lighting for our projects.  All my study materials covered types and shapes of incandescent bulbs (A=arbitrary, P=pear, etc), but these bulbs aren't used anymore, and there was nothing about LED drivers, heat syncs, or controls, which are a huge part of current lighting design.  Similarly, the study materials expect you to know what percent of electric loading is due to light fixtures, and how much energy is used by these fixtures, but it's all based on using old technology.  Current California building code for offices, eg, requires a maximum of .75 Watts/sf of lighting power use, and lighting as a percent of power use has decreased in the past 5-10 years, but the study books are so old they cite 2 to 5 W/sf as typical and quote much higher energy use figures.  It becomes a brain-teaser to figure out whether I'm supposed to answer questions with data from now or from ten years ago.  I'm glad that the exam is going to be updated in 2016, but if the exam only gets updated every 7 years, the technology questions need to be more general so that they still make sense +/-10 years after the exam is written.

This whole exam process has dragged on and on.  I initially hoped to be done with everything by year's end, but it looks like I will have one exam left in 2015 plus any re-takes (including SPD for sure).  That's not too much later than I thought, but I had no idea how wearying this whole process would be.  The knowledge that there's always another exam right around the corner has prevented me from tackling other projects at home and has made me reluctant to commit to new activities.  I'm really looking forward to the end.  I will take BDCS (Building Design and Construction Systems) in November, and then I'm planning to take a break for the holidays.  Wish me luck.

9.13.2014

Women in Architecture: An Individual Perspective

I have a bad habit of reading up on a topic, getting excited about it, starting a blog post, and then dropping it.  Time passes, the issue may start to feel resolved, and then my post begins to sound passé or irrelevant.  What can I possibly add to the conversation that hasn't already been said?  I'll delete my draft, or just let it sit there.  But sometimes, the issue hasn't really gone away, and I see it pop up over and over.  This is one of those times, and here is one of those posts.

If you're not familiar with the "issue" of women in architecture, here's the general gist:  50% of architecture students are women, and have been for some time, but only 18% of licensed architects are women.  That leaves a "gap" of 32% (see: http://themissing32percent.com/), who are women who leave the profession or otherwise fail to get licensed.  In case you prefer your content in infographic form, I've got you covered.  This topic is now all the rage, and has continued to attract attention because of a few well-timed (or poorly-timed?) architecture news items:

1. The Pritzker Prize committee refused to award the Pritzker retroactively to Denise Scott Brown (of Venturi, Scott Brown & Associates, now VSBA).  (More details from the Times.)  While Scott Brown's partner and husband Robert Venturi won the prize solo in 1991, their work, according to the pair, has always been a partnership, and recently there were calls to grant her the award as well.  The Pritzker, the architecture award considered equivalent to the Nobel, has only been awarded to partnerships since 2001 (and has only been so awarded twice, once in 2001, when they changed the rules, and again in 2010).  The campaign for Scott Brown was carried out by some architecture students at the GSD after she spoke there and said she wished she had been jointly awarded with Venturi back in '91.   The Pritzker committee refused, and I can't much blame them, since retroactive awards could set a dangerous precedent of re-writing history.  So while Scott Brown hasn't gotten her Pritzker (yet), the discussion of women's inclusion in the profession's highest honors has been thrown wide open.

2.  Hence (one might say cynically), the posthumous AIA Gold Medal that was awarded this year to early 20th-century architect Julia Morgan, more than 50 years after her death.  It's not that she wasn't worthy, and it's about time we honored a woman in general and her in particular, but couldn't we find any good living women architects to honor with our first award to a woman?  The answer might be that it was safest to award someone who's long gone and generally agreed to have been an outstanding architect in her day.

I'm as annoyed as the next female architectural professional at past discrimination and present lip service to equality that results in no better pay or opportunities.  But let's look a little closer.  Yes, something like 18% to 21% of licensed architects today are women.  But in 1994, 20 years ago, only 11% of licensed architects were women - so the ratio is definitely improving, albeit slowly.  And to provide some additional context, in law and medicine, the gender balance is also skewed: although 50% of medical students and law students are women, roughly 33% of doctors and lawyers are women.  Compared to 33% in other professions, 20% doesn't look so bad anymore.  This makes architecture's gender gap look more like the gender gap in the professional world as a whole.  Maybe the real issue is "the missing 10%" rather than 32%.  But maybe that's a defeatist attitude, to think that we won't reach gender parity among licensed architects.  There are so many cultural, economic, and even personal factors at play that it's hard to know what to count as success.

I'm not going to solve this problem, or even provide a tentative solution, in this blog post.  Lots of very smart and talented folks are working on it already; these people are advocating for more flexible work hours, fighting to return to the profession after leaving for personal or family reasons, and working to institute a revised licensure process that might make it easier for women (and everyone else) to get licensed.  What I can do, is tell my own stories of what it's like to be a woman in a male-dominated profession, and maybe provide some hope and encouragement to anyone else out there who's walking the same road with me.

So here are some stories.

At a friend's wedding, my husband and I were seated near the bride's grandmother during the reception.  We spoke of how I was working on my architecture license, and how she had raised a dozen children.  She shared another story with us: she had always wanted to be an architect.  Once, she entered an architectural drawing contest as a student and won.  When she received her award, she was told that it was too bad she couldn't actually be an architect, since she was a girl.  She said she never stopped wishing she could have been architect.  It's hard to believe that even our grandparents' generation was denied the kind of freedoms we now take for granted - but I will always remember this story, and it's part of why I will continue to seek my license.

My parents are both lawyers - yes, both of them (this probably explains a lot about me).  My mother was one of the first women admitted to her undergraduate college, and has plenty of stories about being the only woman in some of her classes; about suffering discrimination from professors; and even about converting men's restrooms into women's restrooms in her dormitory since there weren't any women's restrooms.  She went on to graduate school, passed the bar, and has been an attorney ever since.  I grew up never thinking twice about whether it was possible to raise a family and also be a professional, whether women were capable of being managers and leaders, or whether it was right or reasonable for women to be anything that men could be.  Of course it was, and is - my mother did it!  She was a woman attorney at a time when there were next to none, and perhaps none she knew or worked with.  Now my parents' law practice has other women attorneys besides my mom, but for all my childhood years she was the only one.  This never seemed strange to me as a kid (although I admit I always enjoyed the question of "what do your parents do," since I could get a reaction from people by telling them that my parents were lawyers, BOTH of them) but perhaps it was significant: she was doing something incredibly difficult.  Her story of breaking the glass ceiling so that her daughters could follow through is another I will always have close to my heart.

My own experience has been far different.  As a student, I was welcomed wherever I went, and sometimes even excelled beyond my male peers (if I had any - male students in art history were a scarce commodity at my university).  In graduate school, both men and women were my studio professors, and I had a gender-balanced peer group.  I have worked for women-owned firms and men-owned firms, had male and female managers, and now work in an office that's slightly skewed towards women, although owned by two male firm principals.  We have a strong firm culture of work-life balance, encourage people to be rested and healthy, support sustainable projects and pro-bono work, and have a grassroots leadership culture that balances the leadership from the principals.  This must be a vast improvement over what my parents and grandparents would have experienced as young professionals, but I'm sure that not all firms are like this.  When I attend construction meetings,  however, I'm often the only woman present, among the team of architects, engineers, owners, construction managers, and contractors.  The old boys' club still rules in many projects, although sometimes the person sending me the final drawing set from the engineer is a woman, and the person doing the hard management work on the contractor's side is a woman.  The head engineer or contractor usually seems proud to have these women on their teams, and not just because they can say they've achieved some gender diversity (although surely that's a contributing factor).  We even have a woman engineer from the California DSA overseeing our school projects.  So I guess what I'm saying is this:  If you aren't happy with your firm, look around, because there are good places to work, places that will value your contribution and help you advance.  If where you are isn't one of those places, then it's their loss when you leave and take your talents elsewhere.  Especially now, when the economy is returning/has returned somewhat, is the time to seek out the places where you can be heard and find the kind of position you want.  Our mothers and grandmothers have laid the groundwork - we can continue building the future that we want.

Architects Rock!

I don't want to go as far as this doctor in saying that my work is a lifetime vocation that should take precedence over most other considerations.  While we architecture folks like to compare ourselves to doctors (7 years of school + three years of internship versus 8 years of school + four years of residency, but with a tiny fraction of the final salary!), architecture isn't actually a life-saving profession.  Life-altering, we hope, not life-and-death.  Picking up those redlines isn't going to prevent the next epidemic.  But I do want to agree with this author that women can bring a unique perspective to the work, and that we should all be cognizant of being inclusive and of continuing to advocate for equality and fairness.  This activism should extend to welcoming all minority groups and not just women.  I am someone who is in a privileged group in basically all ways except gender, but I will try to own this identity and use it for the good - to use my privilege in all the ways I can to bring equality to those who do not share my privilege, and to be mindful of how I am (rarely) singled out as less-privileged.  I invite, and challenge, the rest of the architectural profession to do the same.  Share your stories of what motivates you, what frustrates you, and what you think we can do differently, and share it with your co-workers, bosses, and friends.  We'll make the change, eventually, as we always do.  Even GSAPP's new dean is a woman!  Much of the hard work has been done already, although as we say in architecture, the last 10% of the work often takes 90% of the time.  We can still do this, together.