If you’re strolling along the 16th Street Mall after twilight this month, and you pass the iconic Daniels & Fisher Tower, look up. There, you’ll see giant images of faces—approximately 130 of them—projected high above the ground on the 20-story clocktower’s façade. Those faces belong to female members of the Colorado chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), who are bringing attention to the fact that in Colorado, only 30 percent of licensed architects are women. (Nationally, it’s 17 percent, according to the AIA.)
“To create change, you first have to create awareness,” says Amy Dvorak, communications director for AIA Colorado and co-chair of the AIA Colorado Equity, Diversity and Inclusiveness Committee, who led the project, titled “Women In Architecture.” The idea was born, she says, of studying demographic research that shows the gender gap in architecture. Her team decided that honoring women in the field would be a powerful way to ask whether Colorado firms could do more to support female architects.
To that end, the digital art installation—with 3D digital projection mapping by Longmont-based Tend Studio—includes photos of the buildings the featured architects have designed, as well as quotes from interviews AIA Colorado has conducted with them. These quotes fall into three categories, all of which answer the question, “What would it take to break down barriers for women in architecture?” Dvorak says: supporting one another, mentorship, and a desire for increased opportunities for leadership.
How, exactly, did Dvorak and her team of volunteers bring their vision to life? The Denver Theatre District runs “Night Lights Denver”—a system of 10 projectors and 210,000 lumens that make art installations such as this one possible. All such projects—designed by international and local artists and even school groups—flash on the Arapahoe Street side of the tower.
Dvorak anticipates that this giant display of female architects and their work will begin to move the needle for women—and bolster the pipeline of new talent. “I hope this project empowers the next generation,” she says, “and inspires some LEGO-loving girls out there. What better way to do that than through art?”
“Women In Architecture” is displayed October 1–31, every Tuesday through Sunday from dusk until 10 p.m. Can’t make it downtown? No problem. You can view the 16-minute program online on Friday, October 16, at 8 p.m., at AIA Colorado’s website.