• Women Architects and Global Solidarity Across the Cold War Divide: The International Union of Women Architects, 1963–1993
    Lori A. Brown & Karen Burns

International Union of Women Architects (UIFA) Ramsar, Iran, n.d. Photograph. Courtesy Noushin Ehsan, personal archive

Feminist architectural history has frequently been organized around individual figures or national historiographies, but rarely around the transnational networks that connect women architects into a global feminist movement. This project uncovers a key transnational women’s organization: the International Union of Women Architects (UIFA), founded in 1963, to narrate a new global history of women’s organizing in architecture. It spans a diversity of sites from Berlin, Bucharest, Cape Town, Iran, Paris, and Seattle, during the years 1963–93. UIFA’s membership crossed ninety countries and the organization attracted powerful women patrons—from the Empress of Iran to Princess Grace of Monaco. This geographic reach offers a sharp lens for investigating how women architects organized across the Cold War divide and how nation states mobilized the UIFA global conferences to promote their own political aspirations, including state feminism.

Lori Brown is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA) and a distinguished professor at Syracuse University School of Architecture. Her research focuses on architecture and social justice issues with particular emphasis on gender and its impact upon spatial relationships. Her three books include The Bloomsbury Global Encyclopedia of Women in Architecture, 1960–2020, coedited with Karen Burns (Bloomsbury, 2024); Feminist Practices: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Women in Architecture (Ashgate, 2011); and Contested Spaces: Abortion Clinics, Women’s Shelters and Hospitals (Ashgate, 2013). She is a cocurator of the traveling exhibition Spatializing Reproductive Justice (2024). She is cofounder and leads ArchiteXX, a gender equity in architecture organization in New York. ArchiteXX’s exhibit, of which she is a cocurator, Now What?! Advocacy, Activism + Alliances in American Architecture since 1968, was supported by the Graham Foundation, New York State Council for the Arts, and the National Endowments for the Arts. She is a 2021 Architectural League of New York Emerging Voices recipient and the 2024 Jubilee Professor at Chalmers University, Gothenburg Sweden.

Karen Burns is senior lecturer in architectural design at the University of Melbourne. With Lori A. Brown, she was coeditor of The Bloomsbury Global Encyclopedia of Women in Architecture, 1960–2020 (Bloomsbury, 2024). Focused on feminist architectural history, theory, and activism, her recent research includes Matrix, Making Space (Verso, 2022) and the exhibition Matrix: How We Live Now (Melbourne, 2023) following from their Barbican Gallery London 2021–22 exhibition. A founding member of the  nongovernmental organization Parlour: Gender, Architecture, Equity,  she has authored Robin Boyd: the Architect as Critic (RMIT, 1989) and Robin Boyd (RMIT, 1992); with essays in Desiring Practices (Black Dog, 1996); Post-Colonial Space(s) (Princeton, 1997); The Josephine Baker Reader (McFarland, 2017); A Gendered Profession (Routledge, 2016); AA Women in Architecture(Architectural Association, 2017); Architecture and Feminisms (Routledge, 2018); Women, Practice, Architecture (Routledge, 2014); Industries of Architecture (Routledge, 2016); Speaking of Buildings (Princeton, 2019); Non-Standard Architectural Productions (Routledge, 2020); and The Figure of Knowledge (Leuven, 2020). Her writings have appeared in Assemblage19FootprintJournal of Architectural EducationFabricationsJournal of the Society of Architectural Historians, and the Architectural Histories from the European Architectural History Network.