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  • Writer's pictureMarcy Weiss

Think Pink: Architect Barbie Co-Creator Speaks at AIA Event

I have to admit, I haven’t had any interest in seeing the Barbie movie. My friends with daughters have all told me I should go see it … with them and their daughters or by myself. Even my teenage son has seen Barbie, but I couldn’t wrap my head around it or succumb to the hype. It wasn’t until yesterday that I’ve felt the slightest inclination to view this movie.

Author Kelly Hayes McAlonie addresses AIA Long Island.

Yesterday was the day I met Architect Barbie co-creator, Kelly Hayes McAlonie (see photo on left).

Hayes McAlonie was the guest speaker at an AIA-Long Island Women in Architect event that elite|studio e had the opportunity to host. A trailblazer for women in a male dominated field, Hayes McAlonie has authored a biography on Louise Blanchard Bethune, the first professional female architect; produced a Buffalo TEDx talk, The Power Dress, which has received over 23,000 views; and served as the 2012 President of AIA New York State and 2008 President of AIA Buffalo/WNY. In addition, she has been the Director of Campus Planning at University at Buffalo for more than a decade.

While the topic of the event was focused on her book, I was inclined to learn more about Architect Barbie. And so today I read a bit …

Architect Barbie

In 2011, Hayes McAlonie and her co-creator Despina Stratigako, also an author and professor of architecture at UB, worked together with Mattel to develop Architect Barbie. According to an article written by a student at UB, the duo called the movie “brilliant.”

“We were thrilled to discover our doll featured in the opening sequence — it was very exciting indeed,” Hayes McAlonie recalled.
Photo from ArchDaily.

Stratigakos and Hayes McAlonie discussed the process for creating Architect Barbie with WIVB recalling how they consulted heavily on the doll’s architect accessories. She came complete with a hard hat, boots and architectural drawings.

“One of the big topics was drawing tube or not,” Hayes McAlonie said. “But, it’s such an iconic signal representation of architects.”

Being an architect was Barbie’s 125th career! She has been a veterinarian, race car driver, astronaut, computer engineer and countless others. Architect Barbie was created ready to tackle the daily responsibilities of a real architect in or out of the office. Mattel describes her outfit — pink and blue dress, black jacket and boots — as "symmetrically stylish with bold colors and clean lines."

Today, I also set out to purchase Architect Barbie. Not for me (I’m not an architect, but working in a foodservice design firm, I have an appreciation and love for the field). My niece is starting Kindergarten this week and her mom and dad are both licensed architects.

Unfortunately, I haven’t had any luck on that front.

So in the meantime, I’m going to revel in the success of last night’s event; buy a ticket to the biggest ever solo directed film (props to Greta Gerwig who is now the first woman to independently helm a billion dollar movie!); and celebrate my cousin and colleague, Raquel Weiss Fusco, who next week, takes the reigns as the 18th female president of SHFM!

Barbie Dreamhouse as featured in the 2023 Box Office Hit.

Photo: Jaap Buitendijk/ Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Facts about Women in Architecture & Barbie

In 2011, when Architect Barbie was released, about 40 percent of students in Bachelor of Architecture and Master of Architecture programs were women. Source

More recently, these numbers have crept up to be about 50 percent of architect students are female and about 23% have their license. Source

Architect Barbie was released on the 125th anniversary of women in architecture (I love the correlation that it was her 125th career too!). The first woman was admitted to the Western Association of Architects (precursor to the AIA) in 1885. Source

The Barbie Dream House in the movie two took inspiration from Palm Springs midcentury modernism, including Richard Neutra’s 1946 Kaufmann House and other icons photographed by Slim Aarons. Source

The film’s construction and influence caused an international run on the fluorescent shade of Rosco paint. Source

Architect Barbie has an Instagram handle and is located West of Scotland.

Event Thank Yous

Kelly Hayes McAlonie for joining us from Buffalo for the evening and signing books.

AIA Long Island and the Women in Architecture Committee for helping organize this event. elite|studio e is a proud affiliate of the organization.

The Vollrath Company for its support of the event.

Architect Barbie Co-Creator Speaks at AIA Event Photos


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