The International Archive of Women in Architecture (IAWA), a center of Virginia Tech's College of Architecture and Urban Studies, has awarded an unprecedented three first-place Milka Bliznakov Research Prizes due to the exceptional level of the projects submitted.

The winners-Carmen Alonso Espegel, from Madrid, Spain, Isabel Bauer, from Berlin, Germany, and Bobbye Tigerman, from New York, each received a $1,000 award.

Espegel is an associate professor of projects at the Higher Technical School of Architecture of Madrid. She has been a practicing architect since 1985 and currently works with her firm, Espegel-Fisac Arquitectos, which she founded with Concha Fisac de Ron in 2003. Espegel won a Milka Bliznakov Research Prize for Heroines of the Space, a theoretical and historical synthesis of the history of modern architecture in the 20th century.

"There is simply no other text that approximates the breadth and depth of her analysis on the topic, and no other known that could be so readily embraced as a textbook for course work in the history of modern architecture,” said the prize jury about Espegel’s book.

Bauer is an architect and urban designer in Berlin. Bauer won a Milka Bliznakov Research Prize for Architeckturstudentinnen der Weimarer Republik, a history of women architects in Weimar, Germany, which compares two groups of female architectural students in the 1920s and '30s: those enrolled at Bauhaus, which was closely associated with the modernist avant-garde, and those who studied at the Berlin Technical University with Heinrich Tessenow, an architect and teacher identified more with traditional movements.

"Bauer's research makes a very significant contribution not only to scholarship on gender and architecture, but also to the history of modernism, which is seen here in an unfamiliar and provocative new light,” commented the prize jury about Bauer’s work.

Tigerman will be the assistant curator of decorative arts at the Los Angeles County Museum as of August 1. Tigerman won a Milka Bliznakov Research Prize for “I Am Not a Decorator:” Frances Knoll, the Knoll Planning Unit, and the Making of the Modern Office, her master’s thesis that establishes Frances Knoll’s importance in the context of American modern architecture. “[It] . . . is first rate original research. . . .[it] should be made available to a much larger audience,” remarked the prize jury about Tigerman’s research.

Architects, scholars, and researchers are invited annually to conduct original research on women in architecture and related design fields. Their research, in concert with the efforts of the International Archive of Women in Architecture to preserve the archival materials of women who shaped the built and designed environments, helps fill the current void in historical knowledge about women's professional achievements. The prize is named for the International Archive of Women in Architecture founder and a Virginia Tech Professor Emerita of architecture Milka Bliznakov, of Blacksburg.

The first stage of submission for this award involves a 500-word proposal for an original project, research, or scholarly work that contributes to and advances the recognition of women's contributions in design. The International Archive of Women in Architecture Board of Advisors encourages proposals that draw upon or expand the International Archive of Women in Architecture collections. One year later, invited finalists submit their finished projects.

The sixth annual Milka Bliznakov Research Prize proposals are underway and the finished projects are due to the board by November.

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