Texas Tech University

Williams & Tsien
Tod Williams and Billie Tsien

The Texas Tech University College of Architecture's annual celebration of women is scheduled for Friday (April 17). Fe_arch, a group of female architecture faculty, administrators and staff, has a full day of activities planned to bring awareness to women in the profession of architecture.

Fe_arch will present a lecture by Billie Tsien, the architect of New York City's American Folk Art Museum, at 5 p.m. in the College of Architecture's first floor gallery. Tsien holds a bachelor's degree in fine arts from Yale University and a master's degree in architecture from the University of California at Los Angeles. She is on the boards of the Architectural League of New York, the Public Art Fund and is a vice president of the Municipal Art Society in New York City.

Tsien and her husband Tod Williams are partners of the Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects firm in New York. The pair shared the Jane and Bruce Graham Chair in Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania in 1998, as well as the Eliel Saarinen Chair at the University of Michigan in 2001 and 2002. They are the recipients of numerous prestigious design and architecture awards.

“We always invite a nationally known woman architect – someone who is accomplished, awarded and published and who is in a leadership position – as an inspiration,” said Maria Perbellini, associate dean in the College of Architecture. 

The day's events also include:

  • 3 p.m., a time for students to interview Tsien;
  • 4 p.m., a reception;
  • After the 5 p.m. lecture, the 2015 Best Female Student Award Ceremony.

Awards will be given to the best female undergraduate student, best female graduate student and best in show based on an exhibition of studio work, grade point average, community engagement and involvement in college activities and student organizations.

“I'm advocating to support our girls in the college,” Perbellini said. “I want to give them self-confidence and explain that everything is possible. It's not about gender, it's about, ‘Could you do well what you do?' ”

The name Fe_arch stands for females in architecture, but as Associate Dean Clifton Ellis pointed out, Fe on the periodic table is the symbol for iron.

“You have to be strong and really push your career courageously,” Perbellini explained.

Women currently make up about 25 percent of the students and faculty in the college. Perbellini said she sees lots of participation from the college's men in support of their female peers.

The reception, lecture and awards ceremony are open to the public at no charge.

Important contributors to the Fe_arch event are Dana Campbell, Lahib Jaddo, Kathy Johnson, Victoria McReynolds, Perbellini and Patti Perkins.