First woman receives AIA Gold Medal

Julia Morgan

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has named Californian architect Julia Morgan as the first woman to receive the AIA Gold Medal, 56 years after her death.

Morgan has become the first woman to receive the AIA’s highest mention in the 105-year history of its history. Her best known works include the Hearst Castle mansion in San Simeon and St. John’s Presbyterian Church in Berkley.

Being the first woman who studied architecture at the Ecoles dex Beaux-Arts in Paris, Morgan also became California’s first licensed female architect in 1904. She designed a total of 700 buildings including houses, museums, churches, hotels and offices in various styles including Tudor, Gergian and Spanish colonial.

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“She designed buildings to fit her clients, blending design strategy with structural articulation in a way that was expressive and contextual, leaving us a legacy of treasures that were as revered when she created them as they are cherished today,” wrote American architect Michael Graves in a recommendation letter.

“Her story tells us not to look at her gender, but to look at her work,” added Frank Gehry in his own recommendation letter. “Her projects are personal, distinctive, and were built in a lasting and sustainable manner.”

Julia Morgan is the 70th recipient of the Gold Medal which is annually awarded to recognise the last influence on the theory and practice of architecture.

 

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