Jeanne Gang, founder and lead architect of Chicago's Studio Gang Architects has been named Architect of the Year in this year's Women in Architecture 2016 awards from The Architectural Review. Gang, whose work in Chicago includes the Aqua hotel and condo tower in Lakeshore East, the WMS Boathouse at Clark Park along the north branch of the Chicago River, and the upcoming supertall Vista Tower for Lakeshore East, has earned the award based on her studio's innovative designs and for her "commitment to working both sustainably and democratically with local communities."
Judges for this year's Women in Architecture awards, which included names like Norman Foster and Martha Thorne, praised Gang's work on the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The building is not only significant for being the first of its kind as a center for social justice, but the Women in Architecture judges highlighted Gang's transparent design process and the use of innovative materials, such as sustainable wood masonry on the exterior, and even the use of some 3-D printed materials.
On accepting the award, Gang made it clear that the study of social justice is an important one and worthy of having its own space. "In the past social justice and social justice activism seems like it’s always happened in invisible places," she stated when describing the project to Dezeen. "With this project, I feel like there's an actual building — something that embodies the idea of social justice in every way from its outside to its inside."