How does an architect, and especially a woman, make her way in New York, the city of the modern working women? “It really boils down to personality,” says Annabelle Selldorf, a slender, blond architect from the German city of Cologne, who sports an aura of coolness and professionalism. “To be able to remove barriers you need to know how to conduct yourself” She pauses for a few seconds to ponder. “However, in New York, and really, everywhere, there is some kind of class thinking that keeps lingering around the fact that women are women.” Journalists—also from German magazines—have asked her, for instance, whether she likes light blue better than dark blue. “I have also been told that being an architect is a great job for a woman because you can do that on the side.”
“I have also been told that being an architect is a great job for a woman because you can do that on the side.”
Selldorf also offers an opinion about the differences between Germans and Americans. Americans, she believes, are much more willing to communicate. Whereas Germans are neat, orderly, and committed to sustainability—not the exact word she was looking for, but there is no better word in English. For Germans, quality is important, especially regarding public infrastructure. La Guardia comes to her mind, the gruff New York City airport without a rail connection where she spent “many dreary hours.” The European standard is much higher. Anyway, “you can’t abandon being German,” she explains. “I’m embodying every single stereotype: Tidy, diligent … and I still have the accent. But at least I’m not introduced as “Annabelle from Germany” any more.”
Find the whole story inside our second issue “Sirens“.