On July 5th, we celebrate a female pioneer of architecture, Ethel Mary Charles – the first woman architect to join the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in 1898. Because of her trailblazing the way, today we recognize and highlight the achievements of women in architecture worldwide, and within our own organization.
Ethel’s path to becoming an architect and member of the RIBA was anything but easy. The (then accepted) attitudes towards women practicing architecture restricted Ethel from opportunities readily available to her male peers. When wanting to join the RIBA, one member attempted to obstruct Ethel’s entry by instigating a campaign based on the premise that “it would be prejudicial to the interest of the institute to elect a lady member.” Despite the prejudice, Ethel continued to pursue a career as an architect. After her apprenticeship with Ernest George, she became an assistant to architect Walter Cave, studying Gothic and domestic architecture and in June 1898, she passed the RIBA examinations for associate membership.
Recognizing the Women of Chmiel
We found this story to be especially inspiring as many of our firm’s licensed architects and team members are women, and we couldn’t imagine working and collaborating on projects without their insight, knowledge and industry expertise.
Let us introduce you to the women making a significant architectural impact within our firm:
Elaine Yee – Associate Architect (licensed in 2002). Elaine has been with Chmiel Architects since day one. Her architectural experience includes new commercial construction, building modernization, interior design, and residential construction, including the new headquarters for Export Development Canada, the fresh new office design for Joule (a subsidiary of the Canadian Medical Association) at Lansdowne, and the Design for Alterna Savings Flagship Branch and Head Office.
Elzbieta Chylinska – Senior Project Manager. Ela obtained her Master of Architecture from Gdansk University of Technology in Poland in 2006, and has been with Chmiel Architects since 2008. Her worldly experience includes new commercial construction, renovations and fit-ups varying in size, including the Export Development Canada building and interior fit-up, the recently completed Slater Hotel and Condominium, as well as the recent renovations to the Rideau Carleton Raceway.
Susan Havey – Senior Architectural Technologist. Susan has been with Chmiel Architects for 17 years. She is our in house LEED consultant and BOMA manager. Her experience ranges from commercial projects to residential work. Some of her favourite projects include the Export Development Canada building and fitup, The Denbury House Design, and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.
Anna Preiss – Architect (licensed in 2015). Anna focuses on the detailed design development, construction documentation, and administration overseeing Chmiel’s document control and Building Information Modeling (BIM) systems. Some of Anna’s projects include the recently completed Slater Hotel and Condominium, as well as the renovations at the World Exchange Plaza.
Leah Guerra – Architect (licensed in 2017). Leah’s accounting credentials have proven beneficial to her architectural work, particularly in the areas of project management and contract administration. Leah has been instrumental in the redesign of the Somerset House at the corner of Bank and Somerset.