What it Takes to be a Successful Woman in the Field of Architecture
By Gretchen Callejas
Frank Lloyd Wright. I.M. Pei. Those are the familiar names of two of America’s best-known architects.
Wright’s distinct prairie-style homes dot the American landscape while Pei’s large but elegantly designed urban buildings and complexes are among the world’s most famous architectural works. Pei’s projects, among others, include the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the controversial glass pyramid in Paris’ Louvre Museum courtyard.
But have you heard of Julia Morgan, who designed California’s famous Hearst Castle? Or trailblazers such as Marion Mahony Griffin, the first woman to be officially licensed as an architect, and Zaha Hadid, the first woman to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize?
It isn’t surprising if you haven’t. According to a January 2019 article in ThoughtCo., which listed 20 famous female architects, the role that women have played in architecture and design often go under the radar.
While architecture has been a male-dominated field, that is not the case at Felder & Associates, where I have worked since its inception in 2012. We have four women and three men on staff. The forward-thinking leadership of the firm’s managing principal, Brian Felder, has played an extraordinary part in making our workplace a gender free oasis in an otherwise industry-wide testosterone-filled desert.
Why is architecture, like so many other professions, such a tough profession for women to crack?
According to a 2016 article in the Los Angeles Times, only 18 percent of licensed practitioners are women although they make up nearly half of U.S. architecture school graduates. This disparity sometimes is referred to as “the missing 32 percent.” Unfortunately, females leave the field in disturbingly high numbers after they’re confronted with lower salaries, given fewer career-building opportunities or find a lack of mentors, who champion for them.
Full-time female architects earn 20 percent less than their male counterparts, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Plus, architecture’s history as a male-dominated profession has contributed to an all-consuming workplace culture that leaves little flexibility for women expected to balance work and family. According to the Times article, 75 percent of female survey respondents had experienced sexual discrimination on the job, and 83 percent believed having a child would hurt their careers.
My personal observations and experiences have confirmed some of these disparities, but I consider myself lucky.
Fortunately, I’ve been able to maintain a successful professional career while balancing family because I have a husband who shares responsibilities and encouragement. Without his support, it would be more challenging to continue with a professional career.
And while I have quite a few female friends who are architects, I have never worked for a woman nor had a strong female mentor. Contractors and clients often assume I need to ask my male boss for help in understanding construction, codes or a design issue. When I approach a problem with the same assertiveness as a male architect, I’m sometimes labeled with the “B”-word.
Since I was a kid, I dreamed of designing buildings before I knew what that encompassed. And now as an adult would I encourage young girls to enter architecture? Absolutely. I would tell young women (and men) entering the field that determination and passion go a long way. You will be successful if you work hard, tune out the negativity and chase your goals with perseverance. If you want to be an Architect, then go be one.
I finally believe that I am in a position to give them a hand. I’ve been around enough to help guide them and try to be the mentor I never had. I’m pleased we have two young women working with us at Felder & Associates. Alma Johnson and Cathryn Sinclair graduated with architectural degrees from the Savannah College of Art and Design last year and are interning with us as project associates.
Sinclair says she believes the playing field is more level than ever before but there is always room for improvement.
“I hope to continue to see the gap close,” she says.
For Johnson, success is based on how hard you work.
“Now, the gender gap does exist, but I think that the world is evolving on a more modern idea of a woman in the workplace. I don’t see gender. I see what skill sets I need to acquire to be as successful as the candidate next to me,” Johnson says.
I hope their perspectives will remain true and their positivity high after spending 15 years or so in the industry. I suspect they will reflect on their early days as a time when they had to deal with an old and outdated set of standards.
One thing I know for certain. They are in a wonderful setting to avoid bias and discrimination working at Felder & Associates. We are, thankfully, treated equally regardless of our gender, and we treat one another with mutual respect and understanding.
My hope for young women in architecture is that they will continue to mentor the next generations of women architects, have equal opportunities and respect. One day we will be as well-known as Frank Lloyd Wright and I.M. Pei.
Gretchen Callejas is a project architect at Felder & Associates, where she specializes in historic preservation, adaptive reuse, small scale commercial architecture and high-end residential design. She is also LEED-accredited from the U.S. Green Building Council. Callejas earned Bachelor of Architecture and Bachelor of Science in Environmental Design from Ball State University and a Master of Fine Arts in Historic Preservation from Savannah College of Art and Design.
1. Craven, Jackie (2019, January). 20 Famous Women Architects. ThoughtCo. Retrieved from: https://www.thoughtco.com/famous-female-architects-177890
2. Stratigakos, Despina (2016, April). Why is the world of architecture so male-dominated? LA Times. Retrieved from: https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-stratigakos-missing-women-architects-20160421-story.html
3. Newman, Caroline (2019, January). Three Generations Of Female Architects Seek To Bring More Women Into The Profession. UVA Today. Retrieved from: https://news.virginia.edu/content/3-generations-female-architects-seek-bring-more-women-profession
Bethesda Academy Scholarship Gala to Set Stage for Graduation
(Savannah, GA) Bethesda Academy’s 2019 Scholarship Gala will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m on Friday, May 10, at the Plantation Club at The Landings. The Bethesdaclass of 2019 will graduate the following day.
The speaker for the scholarship gala will be Robert L. Brown, principal/owner of R.L. Brown and Associates, an Atlanta architectural firm. Brown is a native of Dublin, Georgia, who worked on Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airportin the late 1970s.
He later founded his own firm. Its portfolio includes such projects as the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center and Music Academics Building at Morehouse Collegeand the Birmingham Civil Rights Institutein Birmingham, Alabama, along with numerous other scholastic and public structures.
“We are excited to be able to bring a speaker of such accomplishment as Robert Brown,” said Bethesdapresident Michael Hughes. “He can demonstrate to our students that privilege is not a requirement when you have hard work, focus and leadership skills on your side. That’s not just how you build a career, but, as Brown has demonstrated, how you build a legacy.”
Bethesda’s class of 2019 has 15 members. Eleven plan to attend college and were accepted by 14 different colleges and universities. One future graduate plans to enlist in the U.S. Air Forceand another will attend an EMT course to enter the medical field. Two others hope to enroll in Georgia Ports Authority’s Y.E.S. program, a mentor-based program that transitions graduates into careers at the port.
Thanks to the school’s dual enrollment program with Point University, many of the college-bound graduates will start their college careers as near sophomores.
“In our junior and senior classes, one in three students is dual enrolled, meaning they are completing high school and at the same time taking college courses for college credit,” said Hughes. “This is not only a testament to the quality of our academic program, but in this day of staggering student-loan debt, it represents fiscal responsibility, leading to solid savings for students and their families.”
Twelve juniors and seniors are involved in joint enrollment classes.
Tickets to the scholarship gala are $150 and are available at http://www.bethesdaacademy.org/giving/special-events/scholarship-gala/.
ABOUT BETHESDA ACADEMY
Founded in 1740, Bethesda Academyis the oldest child-care institution in the United States. Now it is a private boarding and day school for young men in grades six through twelve and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The 650-acre campus features a variety of athletic teams, a wildlife management and organic farming program and college preparatory curriculum. Through its “Lead The Way” initiative, students have access to exclusive integrated learning and leadership opportunities. For more information, visit www.bethesdaacademy.orgor call 912.644.4376.
Roush’s Delivery Service Breaks Ground on New Warehouse Flex Space
The Dewitt Tilton Group Starts New Construction on 30,000 Building in Garden City
(GARDEN CITY, GA) Savannah-based commercial construction firm, the Dewitt Tilton Groupheld groundbreaking ceremonies in Garden City for a 30,000-square-foot warehouse/office building for Roush’s Delivery Service.
The groundbreaking took place at the construction site, Lot 6 West Chatham Business Park in Garden City.
Roush’s Delivery Service, founded in 1973, provides expedited less-than-truckload (LTL) and logistics services. Mike Roush is president of the family-owned firm, and Mike Roush Jr. is its general manager. The company experienced a 400% growth over the past four years, thus demanding physical expansion.
“We have to adapt as our clients’ needs change,” said Mike Roush. “Most of our customers now need project-based work, and our new site will equip us to meet those needs in the most effective manner. Yes, we have grown tremendously, but the reason for this expansion is also to better serve our clients.”
The pre-engineered metal building will include 3,500 square feet of heated and cooled office space. The building is dock-high all the way around, and the office portion will be configured as two stories. Translucent light panels along the front and rear will allow natural light into the warehouse. 12 overhead garage doors that vary in size with edge or pit levelers will accommodate most any truck and its load. There is also a concrete ramp into the building from parking level as another means of access for receiving or delivering goods.
“Mike and I were buddies in grade school and high school,” Chris Tilton, one of the principals at Dewitt Tilton, said of the younger Roush. “Who would have thought, back when we were at Benedictine, that we would one day be working together on a $2 million construction project? We appreciate all of our clients, but it is really fun to work with old friends.”
MORE INFORMATION ON DEWITT TILTON GROUP
The Dewitt Tilton Group, a premier construction firm located in Savannah, Ga., specializes in commercial construction. The principals, Andrew Dewitt and Chris Tilton, have over 50 years of combined experience in the local construction industry. The firm manages every aspect of a commercial project from pre-construction to the final walk through. Known for using only highly reputable contractors, the Dewitt Tilton Groupbrings to the table design, engineering and construction capabilities which guarantees a smooth construction process for each client. The firm is located at 2807-A Roger Lacey Avenue, Savannah, GA 31404. For more information or to contact the Dewitt Tilton Group, please call 912.777.3404 or visit www.dewitttiltongroup.com
Principal of Dewitt Tilton Group Launches “Inspire Your Community” Podcast to Do Just That
(SAVANNAH, GA) Chris Tilton, one of two principals at the Dewitt Tilton Groupcommercial construction firm, has launched a monthly podcast featuring local stories of inspiration, kindness and positivity, and the company will reward people who help find those stories with a $300 donation to the cause of the nominator’s choice.
A small, heartwarming true story was the spark for “Inspire Your Community Podcast,” Tilton said.
“I heard about this guy who was dropping his daughter off at daycare one morning, just something lots of us do every day, and he noticed that the swing on the playground was broken. He didn’t complain about it to the daycare manager; he didn’t ignore the problem. Instead, the following Saturday, on his day off, he drove over and fixed the swing,” said Tilton. “Not a big thing, just seeing a problem and doing something about it.”
Such simple but true stories, Tilton thought, could inspire others to perform random acts of kindness or to act instead of complaining. His response is to launch a monthly podcast to tell true, inspiring stories suggested by members of the community. To encourage people to come forward with stories, the Dewitt Tilton Groupwill donate $300 to the cause of the successful nominator’s choice.
To submit story ideas, email email@example.com. One story will be selected each month to be the subject of the podcast, and the nominator of that story will be given the opportunity to designate a charity to receive a $300 donation.
“There are lots of inspirational stories out there, and we hope people will come forward to let us help share them,” Tilton said. “We’re starting now, so we need to hear from people. This is one small way we can all help counteract hate and negativity in the world.”
The podcast can be accessed at YouTube, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher, and everywhere else podcasts can be found. View the first episode here, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EgdS0dh9UY.
MORE INFORMATION ON DEWITT TILTON GROUP
The Dewitt Tilton Group, a premier construction firm located in Savannah, Ga., specializes in commercial construction. The principals, Andrew Dewitt and Chris Tilton, have more than 50 years of combined experience in the local construction industry. The firm manages every aspect of a commercial project from pre-construction to the final walk through. Known for using only highly reputable contractors, the Dewitt Tilton Groupbrings to the table design, engineering and construction capabilities to guarantee a smooth construction process for each client. The firm is located at 2807-A Roger Lacey Avenue, Savannah, GA 31404. For more information or to contact the Dewitt Tilton Group, please call 912.777.3404 or visit http://www.dewitttiltongroup.com
Pooler Parkway Location is Enmarket’s Largest Newly Built Store
The store, which offers 20 fueling stations and an electronic vehicle charging station, is Enmarket’s third in Pooler but its first on Pooler Parkway. The two others are on Highway 80.
The new store features the chain’s first drive-through window, serving fresh food and beverages from Enmarket’s proprietary restaurant, The Eatery. It also features touchless restrooms, exposed ceilings, spacious parking and outdoor seating.
Some features are invisible to customers but will contribute to better service, such things as a redesigned and more efficient kitchen and an improved vendor receiving area. Progressive Builderswas the general contractor for the project.
“This is the largest Enmarketwe’ve built from the ground up,” said Brett Giesick, president of Enmarket. “We’re excited to announce this new location, and believe it serves as a fine example of our dedication to providing customers with quality service and food.”
The new store is part of an Enmarketexpansion plan that includes the rebuild of the existing store on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in downtown Savannah, a new headquarters complex that will include the rebuild of the Enmarketon U.S. 17 at Chatham Parkway and a future store in Port Wentworth.
Enmarketcurrently operates 124 convenience stores and 14 quick-serve restaurants with more than 1,200 employees in Georgia and North and South Carolina.
Enmarket, founded as Interstate Stations by Robert Demere in 1963, is part of Savannah-based Colonial Group, Inc. The retailer operates convenience stores in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina and was noted as the industry’s “Biggest Mover” in store count ranking by Convenience Store Newsin 2018. The company is committed to giving back to the community through many charitable contributions and volunteer efforts, offering fresh food, healthy snacks, and competitively priced quality fuel as part of its mission to enrich life. Enmarketcurrently employs more than 1,200 people and operates 124 convenience stores and 14 quick-serve restaurants as the 54th largest convenience store operator in the country. www.enmarket.com
Low Country Dermatology Expands with Construction of New Complex
(SAVANNAH, GA) Low Country Dermatology, owned by board-certified dermatologist Dr. Corinne Howington, will expand to a new aesthetic center and professional offices on Waters Avenue to accommodate the needs of its growing practice.
A ceremonial groundbreaking will be held at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, March 12, at 6510 Waters Ave. The project is scheduled to be finished in October, and the first patients are expected in November.
“We have simply outgrown our present facilities on Eisenhower Drive,” Howington said. “With the new, purpose-built location, we’ll be able to treat our patients in a more spacious and convenient location.”
The new facility will include eight procedure and examination rooms, two aesthetic rooms for laser, as well as, chemical peels and facials, a cosmetic consult room and two clinical research rooms.
Howington said she attributes the expansion of the practice to an increased awareness of skin cancer and a growing and repeat demand for cosmetic services.
“With the public having a greater awareness of skin cancer’s risks, especially in this climate, patients are more likely to come in for evaluations,” she said. “Cosmetic patients are definitely returning more frequently, and our wait times for an appointment are increasing. We want to expand our esthetic side so that our patients can have easier access to our treatments and procedures.”
ABOUT LOW COUNTRY DERMATOLOGY
Low Country Dermatologyspecializes in the treatment of adult and pediatric diseases of the skin, hair and nails. Dr. Corinne Howington is a board certified dermatologist, with expertise in medical, surgical and cosmetic dermatology. Low Country Dermatologyis currently located at 310 Eisenhower Dr. Suite 12A Savannah, GA 31406, pending construction of expanded offices. For more information, call 912-354-1018 or visit lcderm.com. To connect on Facebook, visit https://www.facebook.com/LowCountryDermatology
Miranda Osborn Joins Felder & Associates as Office Manager
(SAVANNAH, GA) Miranda Osborn has joined the architectural and interior design firm of Felder & Associatesas office manager. In her role, she will be responsible for administrative duties, including overseeing residential, commercial, industrial, educational, historic and modern designs.
“I’m proud to be part of such an amazing, hardworking, dedicated group of professionals,” Osborn said. “As an artist, I’m fascinated by all aspects of design, and love the contrasting architecture Felder & Associatesproduces, from adaptive reuse architecture to high-end residential and everything in between.”
Brian Felder, the firm’s managing principal, said Osborn is a perfect addition to Felder & Associates’ team, which features “a diverse, dedicated staff devoted to taking a fresh approach to each set of circumstances presented to us by our clients.”
Osborn moved to the United States from her hometown of Hobart, Australia, in 1998 and attended the College of DuPagein Glen Ellyn, Illinois. She has logged more than 20 years in the design field and most recently held the position of director of fun at a Savannah country club. Osborn also worked in marketing and design for Morris Multimediaand Cages By Design.
She is a veteran freelance writer and owner of her own photography company. Osborn was one of 13 winners of South Magazine’s Greatest Photographers in 2018 and recently celebrated her 13th magazine cover.
“I grew up in a family of furniture designers and building surveyors,” she said. “My childhood weekend memories involve traipsing around a litany of Australian National Trustbuildings my family purchased over the years. One of my fondest memories was trying to find the foundation stone of the Jubilee Primitive Methodist Church, built circa 1861, that my father purchased when I was roughly 11 years old.”
ABOUT FELDER & ASSOCIATES
Established in 2012, Felder & Associatesspecializes in historic preservation, commercial architecture, adaptive reuse architecture, corporate interior design, high-end residential design, green building and neo-traditional building. The firm has a staff of LEED accredited architects and interior designers who focus on sustainability. Locally, Felder & Associatesis a member of the Savannah Chamber of Commerceand Historic Savannah Foundation. The firm is nationally connected in the American Institutes of Architects, the American Society of Interior Designersand the United States Green Building Council. Felder & Associatesis a member of the International Interior Design Association. In 2014, Felder & Associatesreceived a historic preservation award from the Historic Savannah Foundationand the best architecture firm award from Savannah Magazine. Felder & Associatesrecently completed the Grey restaurantin the former Greyhound bus depot in the Savannah historic district. The firm is located at 2514 Abercorn St. Suite 110, Savannah, GA 31401. For more information or to contact Felder & Associates, call 912-777-3979, or visit www.felderassociates.net