History of the Foundation

After 35 years of architectural practice leading her own firm, Beverly Willis, FAIA, was astounded and dismayed to discover that women were not represented in the architecture history books. In 2000, believing that the future is based on the past, she contacted architectural historians Diane Favro, Ph.D. and Lian Mann, Ph.D. who shared her concern. Joined by Heidi Gifford, together they provided the research that led to the formation in 2002 of Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation (BWAF), a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) organization—with the mission of advancing the knowledge and recognition of women’s contributions to architecture.

“I founded the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation (BWAF) to fight to ensure that women in architecture have the same opportunities as men to realize their dreams and to be remembered. The creation of BWAF meshed with my broader lobbying efforts for change, including the 1978 resolution, passed by the American Institute of Architects, to support the Equal Rights Amendment. Forty years later, the profession has yet to live up to the promise of equality. Whether women will finally be able to achieve democratic equality with men depends on our collective will to forge a new professional culture of inclusion. Working together, with the financial support of all who are committed to this mission, and with BWAF’s innovative programs, research, and leadership, we will create a more equitable future for women in the building industry.”
—Beverly Willis

Initially organized as a grant giving non-profit, BWAF supported research that would expand knowledge about women’s contributions to twentieth-century American architecture by uncovering their lost histories and restoring them to the historical record. It now also embraces issues specific to women currently working within the building industry. To this end, BWAF both commissions and curates research that pertains to women working at all levels within all fields of practice —including architecture, engineering, construction, design, landscape, preservation, and planning.