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The Woman's Building, located north of downtown Los Angeles, California, is a public center for women's culture. During the four years of its development, the Woman's Building has been the focus for national conferences, local workshops, and classes. Their facilities include a graphic center, a slide registry of women's visual art, a performance space, classroom and meeting space. Major educational programs include the Extension Program (quarterly 8-week classes on week nights, and one-day weekend workshops), the Feminist Studio Workshop and the Summer Art Program.
The Woman's Building presently occupies a three storey [[three-storey]] warehouse. In four months over 2,500 people helped to build this public center on three floors of undifferentiated space. They participated in the process of designing, cleaning, scraping and painting. Design emphasis was placed on open forms and generous circulation spaces as places of conversation, protest and celebration.
The Woman's Building was created without large gifts or grants from either private individuals and corporations or federal and state agencies. Project grants had been received but economic support for the ever increasing administrative strain was and continues to be lacking. Sheila Levrant de Brettville one of the founders of the center stated in "The Woman's Building: A Case Study in Urban Innovation" that the sheer existence and persistence of the Woman's Building is expressive of the vitality of the second wave of feminism. The orientation, accomplishments and difficulties of this building can provide a useful model for women elsewhere who might create a new independent cultural and feminist institution. As the goal of this institution is to project women's culture into the public sphere, the more women can group together to locate and create this culture, the more likely we can have a positive affect on the society at large."

The Woman's Building
1727 N. Spring St.
Los Angeles, California


"The stereotypes about women that pass thorugh [[through]] urban planning minds are too frightful to touch on a hot summer day - among these stereotypes are the assumptions that women stay at home, that everybody lives in a nuclear family, that everybody wants as many bathrooms as there are bedrooms (meaning more housework and more consumption), that a man needs an "extra place" for a study, but a woman doesn't" (Noel Phyllis Birkby, Los Angeles Times, August 1976).
Birkby, a New York architect who teaches at Brooklyn's Pratt Institute, is one of the seven founders / co-ordinators of the Women's School of Planning and Architecture, the first such school founded, funded and run by and for women. The reasons for the creation of the school are twofold - to create a personaly [[personally]] supportive environment for the free exchange of ideas and knowledge; and to encourage both personal and professional growth through a fuller integration of values and identities as women, with values and identities as designers.
The first session of WSPA was held during August 1975, in Maine and the second session during August 1976, in California. More than 50 women gathered together for each intensive two-week session. The sessions included discussion of such diverse subjects as the politics and ideology of the planning process, women and built environment, a feminist analysis of design method and content, energy-conscious design, writing for designers, woodworking techniques, design and construction of architectural tapestry.
The School is a response to the growing dissatisfaction with the architectural profession. The profession has remained male-dominated due to traditional barriers of entry for women. As a result, many women feel that the profession has not been sensitive to the needs of women users of buildings. Little design consideration has been given for example to the physical barriers for women accompanied by young children in carriages; the physical isolation of suburban women and effectively designed birth environments for women. It is for these reasons that so called "alternative institutions" for women have been created by women.
Ellen Perry Berkely, one of the founders / co-ordinators, it has been an occasionally agonizing attempt to create a new model of education, of community,of organization, of professional responsibility." It seems that for women architects, the school represents a move toward a new definition of professionalism.
WSPA is currently planning another two week [[two-week]] session for August 1978, in Rhode Island. In addition, a special weekend session will be held at that time for those interested in a session.

For further information contact:
Women's School of Planning and Architecture
Box 311
Shaftsbury, Vermont
05262, U. S. A.

Appropriately enough, following on the last article the letter printed below outlines some plans for an August, 1978 session by the Women's School of Planning and Architecture.


Transcription Notes:
1. "Storey" is an English (British or Canadian) spelling. 2. "Co-ordinators" is the plural form of co-ordinator.

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