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Patti Austin and Designer Dawn Carroll

As I continue to learn more about the cutting edge designers, builders, and architects out there, I am amazed by what I find. My partner and co-founder Dawn Carroll just introduced me to the bio of super star architect Zaha Hadid. Oh how I would love to be mentored by her!

She was most recently recognized at the international level for her incredible design of the Olympic Aquatic Centre, which houses two swimming pools and 22,500 seats. Other notable designs include the Bridge Pavilion in Spain, the Bergisel Ski Jump in Austria, and the Vitra Fire Station in Germany. She has also begun planning for an 11-story condo building on NYC’s High Line. Her successful career in architecture has earned her the Pritzker Prize and the label of one of CNN’s ‘Leading Women’ among many other accolades.

Surprisingly, there are very few leading women architects in the industry, which makes me wonder why this is the case. The RIBA Future Trends Survey indicated a 7 percent decline in the number of female architects over the past two years.

According to Zaha, she thinks that it is because many women struggle with the work/life balance and often feel overwhelmed trying to be the best at everything: career woman, homemaker, mother, and wife. By trying to juggle all of the tasks related to their personal lives, they may feel as though they don’t have the focus or drive to become successful architects.

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Mentor Architect Alex Zaras of Zaras & Neudorfer Architects- Mentee Patti A and Mentor builder Bryan Beaver of Thoughtforms Corporation

To help create more successful women architects in the future, Zaha is a believer in women in mentoring relationships. In fact, while she used to not like being labeled a ‘woman architect’, she now knows that her role as a leader in the industry can be inspirational for other aspiring women architects and help to reassure them that it can be done.

I, along with my mentor in design, Dawn Carroll, have started the Over My Shoulder Foundation in an effort to start an international conversation on mentoring through our Designing the Next Generation series. Please contact us to learn more about women in mentoring and the powerful effect it can have.