Marking International Women’s Day on March 8 and Women’s History Month of 2024, the national women’s advocacy group Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation has announced commitments by several major National Public Radio affiliate stations to air the new one-hour special Buildings Speak: Stories of Pioneering Women Architects, a collaboration with Peabody Award-winning radio producers The Kitchen Sisters and hosted by Academy Award-winning producer and performer Frances McDormand.

Announced by The Kitchen Sisters and Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation, creators of the pioneering audio documentary series New Angle: Voice that inspires the new one-hour special, Buildings Speak will be heard by major metro audiences around the country — from Atlanta, Boston and Cleveland to San Francisco and Seattle. The special features insights from the lives of pioneering women architects Julia Morgan, Amaza Lee Meredith and Natalie de Blois.

Buildings Speak is a brand-new hour of fascinating, unusual stories about women architects from across America,” said Tizziana Baldenebro, executive director of BWAF. “They are trailblazers, groundbreakers, skyscraper visionaries — women who changed the skyline and the built environment that surrounds us today. It’s an hour of striking, surprising stories of design, vision and love.”

BWAF’s award-winning audio series New Angle: Voice was created by executive producer Cynthia Phifer Kracauer, AIA, a creative lead alongside acclaimed producer Brandi Howell and noted writer and editor Alexandra Lange, Ph.D. The series is informed by Pioneering Women of American Architecture, edited by co-directors Mary McLeod and Victoria Rosner and conceived with Beverly Willis, FAIA, and Wanda Bubriski.

“We are so excited to hear Buildings Speak in so many markets to celebrate International Women’s Day,” said Howell, a veteran audio producer based near San Francisco known for stories shaping the urban and counterculture landscapes of 20th-century U.S. history. “This timely new special is sound-rich, deeply layered, [and] full of compelling voices and archival audio and music. Buildings Speak adds spark and spirit to airwaves during this time of relentless news. We think listeners will be drawn in by it, both women and men.”

Buildings Speak NPR Special Promo with Dolls

Photo courtesy of Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation

Listen to Buildings Speak

Supported by PRX, the one-hour special airs on major NPR affiliate stations this month around the country. In New York, WNYC is airing the special on March 10 from 7-8 p.m., and Georgia Public Broadcasting will present Buildings Speak on Friday, March 8, which is International Women’s Day, at 2 p.m. Other upcoming broadcasts, many with streaming options, include:

  • WCQS (Asheville, North Carolina) — Friday, March 8, at 9 a.m.
  • KUNM (Albuquerque, New Mexico) — Sunday, March 10, at 11 a.m.

Buildings Speak has already aired on KTSW (San Marcos, Texas) on March 2, WGBH (Boston) on March 3 and High Plains Public Radio (Kansas, Colorado, Texas and Oklahoma) on March 4. The producers also expect future airings on WXAV (Chicago) and KUOW (Seattle).

Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation New Angle - Voice Audio Documentary Season 2

Past episodes of New Angle: Voice recount the lives of Amaza Lee Meredith, Ray Eames and Ada Louise Huxtable (from left to right).

Photo courtesy of Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation

Premiere of New Angle: Voice, Season 3

Buildings Speak draws on content from the acclaimed audio series New Angle: Voice, which will debut its third season later this month, with additional funding through a grant from the New York State Council for the Arts. New stories for these episodes include:

Women in American Architecture, 1977
This episode, released in March in conjunction with Women’s History Month, explores the ideation, curation and exhibition of the first major retrospective of American women’s contributions to architecture, which debuted at the Brooklyn Museum in 1977 and was covered widely in major media. The brainchild of architect Susana Torre, the exhibit showed and told the 100-year-plus history of women in design while also highlighting their contemporary struggles.

Catherine Bauer Wurster
Bauer Wurster wrote the seminal progressive text on housing and advised five presidents on one of the thorniest urban issues of the 20th century: how to economically, humanely and thoughtfully house the greatest number of people. She was part of the inner circle of modernist architects and urbanists, collaborating with Lewis Mumford, the Museum of Modern Art and her husband, William Wurster, while clashing with Minoru Yamasaki and Jane Jacobs.

Noel Phyllis Birkby
Birkby represents the highly influential intersection of feminist action in American culture and American architecture in the 1970s. Birkby was expelled from University of North Carolina at Greensboro, by her own account, for loving another woman, and went on to get architecture degrees from Cooper Union and Yale before founding the Women’s School of Architecture and Planning, which organized sessions nationally from 1976 to 1981. She brought architecture together with the then-popular female encounter groups through “environmental fantasy” workshops, which encouraged women to draw their ideal living spaces, freed from the constraints of the “man-made” world.

The New Angle: Voice series has helped inspire a growing awareness and appreciation of women leaders in architecture throughout American history as well as the inequities faced, still today, by women in historically male-dominated professions. One podcast subject, pioneering Black modernist Meredith — the subject of New Angle: Voice in June 2023 for Pride Month — will soon be the subject of a book by songwriter, performer and composer Solange.