Reflecting a lifetime of service, her prolific and continued design contributions to the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) fields, as well as her broad accomplishments in helping women advance in the professions, Beverly Willis, FAIA, has been named recipient of an Engineering News-Record (ENR) Legacy Award.
The Legacy Award, given annually for the ENR New York region, is presented to an individual “with a solid legacy of lifetime services to the AEC industry and their colleagues.”
Since beginning her career over 60 years ago, Willis has served not only as a mentor and advocate for women architects and engineers, but also helped shaped the profession. Willis founded her own architecture practice, which she ran for over 55 years and established a design portfolio of over 800 projects. She is also the first woman to appear on the cover of Engineering News-Record magazine.
After retiring from her architectural practice, in 2002 at age of 75, Willis devoted $1 million to establish the Beverly Willis Architectural Foundation (BWAF), a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, with the mission of advancing the knowledge and recognition of women’s contributions to architecture and correcting the profession’s longstanding failure to recognize women’s designs and contributions in the history books. In recent years, the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation has created website archives of women architects including the Webby Award-nominated website, “Pioneering Women of American Architecture.” Also, in 2014, the Beverly Willis Architectural Foundation (BWAF) created an initiative called Built By Women, an exhibition revealing the extraordinary talents of many women architects, landscape architects, and engineers. Willis has also written and directed several films, including the new short documentary, Unknown New York: The City That Women Built, which premiered in April of this year.
“After an incredibly successful architecture career that lasted over five decades, Beverly founded BWAF, an organization instrumental in changing the culture of the AEC industry for women.” says Cynthia Kracauer, AIA, executive director of the Beverly Willis Architectural Foundation. “Through programs such as the Built by Women initiative and the Industry Leaders Roundtable, this organization has helped empower more women to excel as architects and engineers.”
In addition to receiving ENR New York’s Legacy Award, Willis has also received dozens of other honors, including a number of AIA Awards, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the AIA California, and an Award of Exceptional Distinction from the Governor of California for her innovative work on the Union Street Stores in San Francisco, which historians credit with advancing the modern concept of adaptive reuse.
As she received the award, Willis said, “When I looked around at the age of 75, I noticed that there were no women in the architectural and engineering history books and my foundation was a way of changing that," says Willis "We are now in a transitional period of great cultural change, and although we have begun to make strides, there is still plenty of work to be done.”
For more information or to interview Beverly Willis, contact C.C. Sullivan.