25 March 2021

IAWA – Session 2 – Afternoon

IAWA, 2021


Having completed her PhD under Buckminster Fuller in 1975, Anne Tyng is one of the earliest female professors of architecture. Her personal experiences with some of the modernist masters such as Walter Gropius and Philip Johnson during her formative years give us some insight into her education’s influence on the development of her practice and pedagogy. Her work with Louis Kahn and their correspondences reveal her enduring influence on his architectural output. Her pioneering work in morphology was a vivid counterpoint to the dominant rational functionalism of the period. This essay traces Tyng’s life as a designer, researcher, and educator who embraced the discipline of architecture, patriarchal as it was. She ‘saved’ Kahn, the architect and the man, only to realize that she had to set out on her own journey, subsequently finding in academia a fitting base to discover the underlying structures of nature and introduce young generations of architects-to-be to its fecund morphological realm. Her singular focus on naturally-occurring, mathematically-describable forms constitutes a foundational moment in the evolution of the discipline beyond the confines of cartesian rationality to a rigorous expressiveness more grounded than Fuller’s flights of fancy. Tyng’s narrative thus serves as a model for rediscovery and projection, an impetus to unearth a natural architectural philosophy.


This paper considers the work of two significant American Architects in the early twentieth century, Marion Mahony Griffin (1871-1961) and Elizabeth Kimball Nedved (1897-1969), by examining critical intersections in their careers. Griffin was the first woman to be licensed in the state of Illinois and the second woman to obtain a degree in architecture in the United States, and Nedved was the first woman admitted to the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Both were active in Chicago during the first three decades of the twentieth century, a period which also saw increasing acknowledgment of women’s rights and the advent of the women’s suffrage movement. Perhaps more saliently, the two share a personal connection: the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Glasner House in Glencoe, Illinois. Griffin produced a rendering of the house for Wright in 1906 – the period during which she was maturing the graphic style that would later be reproduced in the Wasmuth Portfolio, published in Berlin in 1910. Coincidentally, Nedved and her husband, Rudolph, were the second owners of the residence from 1928-1971, which they modified and partially used as a home studio for their architecture practice. This unexpected convergence at a singular place offers a new perspective on the work of these two women at a specific moment in history, and illuminates how each was able to exercise considerable agency at a time when women were largely discouraged from participating in the architectural profession. By comparing Griffin’s rendering with the drawings produced by the Nedveds during their renovations of the home, the research hopes to yield new insights into their respective approaches to architecture. The work consults existing literature, archival sources, and personal artifacts to gain an understanding of each woman’s relationship with the Glasner House, and aims to translate these findings into a more complete picture of the intentions of these two pioneers.

1:40 – q&a

Panel discussion (15 min.)


During the first half of her singular practice, Judith Davidson Chafee (1934 -1998) became celebrated for her finely tuned buildings carefully situated in their iconic landscapes. These buildings still bring form to priorities that are now widely embodied by the sustainability community and mindful designers of the world. She was considered a pioneer — one of a few women-owned sole proprietor practices, where she was able to contextualize real climate problems, inclusive of socio-economic and cultural concerns, while utilizing her honest interpretation of modern disciplines as an ethical compass.

Her independent projects embraced geographic precedent, aesthetic research and energy imperatives, which had direct impact on associates in her academic and professional avocations as well as the community in which she lived. A dedication to architectural education and her outstanding professional work earned her the national award of Fellow in the Institute of Architects, the first woman architect in Arizona to receive the FAIA. Her commitment was to the relevance of architecture and its relationship with human and environmental concerns that respond to future needs with the integrity and honesty of modern principles.

This presentation will focus on her singular practice and its impact, both near and far, as an exemplar of directness, clarity of structure and materials, mastery of light and form, with the insistence of environmental awareness.

Preparing for the recent release of Powerhouse, The Life and Work of Judith Chafee, by Christopher Domin and Kathryn McGuire, published by Princeton Architectural Press (2019), the authors assisted the Librarians at University of Arizona Special Collections to organize her deep archive of architectural production, poetry, and personal ephemera. This documentation provides first person documentation for this research presentation, along with new photography by Bill Timmerman.


The Santa Barbara architect Lutah Maria Riggs (1896-1984) is today commonly associated with the Spanish Colonial and Mediterranean revival styles that dominate much of the architecture of Santa Barbara and southern California. Riggs also designed modern and modernist buildings, an approach to architecture that increasingly characterized her work after World War 2.

Riggs’ architectural works took a modern turn when the architect received in the 1930s commissions from younger, female clients for whom erecting a private home meant to define themselves as independent, modern women. The paper looks specifically at the von Romberg mansion, a large country house that Riggs designed from 1936 to 1938 in Montecito, California, for Max von Romberg (1911-1938), a German-American nobleman, and Emily von Romberg, his wife.

Riggs’ plans for a revival style house morphed under the demands of Emily von Romberg into a design for a modern home, a singular change that lastingly shaped the life of Emily von Romberg and the career of Riggs. The creation of a modern house signaled the transformation of Emily von Romberg into a patron of modern architecture and art; today known as Emily Tremaine, she and her third husband amassed from the 1940s onwards an important collection of modern art.

For Riggs, the von Romberg mansion was not only the first of many more modern houses but her most influential design. Never published during Riggs’ lifetime, the von Romberg house is nevertheless lastingly inscribed into modern Californian architectural history. Unbeknownst until now to architectural historians, the house decisively influenced Richard Neutra’s designs for the Warren and Katharine Tremaine house, Montecito, and even the Kaufmann Desert House in Palm Springs; two projects that usually are ascribed to the genius of their (male) architect even though some of their most characteristic details are deeply rooted in the architectural collaboration between Lutah Maria Riggs and Emily von Romberg.

2:40 – q&a

Panel discussion (15 min.)