‘Groundbreaking Women’ tour celebrates designs by Austin’s female architects

The self-guided online tour features 12 sites in central Austin


It’s no secret that the gender balance in the architecture profession is, well, off balance.

Today, only about 25% of professional architects in the U.S. are women, according to data from the National Architectural Accrediting Board and the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

Now, the AIA Austin’s Women in Architecture Committee has created “Groundbreaking Women,” the latest tour offered by the Guide to Austin Architecture, a mobile-friendly website that highlights places and spaces around the city.

The restaurant Paperboy, on East 11th Street, was designed by Chioco Design, led by firm partner Christy Taylor. Photo by Chase Daniel.

“Groundbreaking Women” launches March 8, International Women’s Day. It spotlights 12 buildings or projects in central Austin designed by Austin’s female architects. The tour includes the historic McGarrah Jessee Building, Hotel Magdalena, Hotel St. Cecilia and Paperboy restaurant.

It is the fourth tour on the Guide to Austin Architecture website, a project of AIA Austin and the Austin Foundation for Architecture. Maps, text, and images allow for self-led physical tours or virtual jaunts.

“From the beginning of the Guide, we knew we would have a tour to recognize the women designing Austin,” said Ingrid Spencer, executive director of AIA Austin and the Austin Foundation for Architecture. “Many great places in our city came from female project leads or women-owned architecture firms. Some are already icons, or they will be.”

A small group from AIA Austin’s Women in Architecture Committee made the selection of projects for the tour.

“Within our group, we know these buildings as ‘her project, her design, her concept’,” said WiA committee chair Stephanie Lemmo, Assoc. AIA.

“We saw each other get them done. That deserves acknowledgement.”

A committee-led bike tour of the west side is planned for March 26, with an east side bike tour slated for fall 2022.

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