Women provide leadership toward economic, political, and social advancements in the world. In order to consolidate their efforts under one roof, and promote leadership activities of the many women's international organizations, the US Government has authorized funding for the design and construction of a building that serves as a center for women's leadership internationally. The project proposed herein provides such a facility and is hereafter referred to as WILL, the Women's International Leadership League. Through architectural and urban relationships, the center embodies the symbolic nature and traits of good leadership and promotes the productive collaboration of women's international organizations as they focus their attentions to global problems and solutions.
Why WILL we? This building is a place. A haven for ideas. Ideas relating to how the world can be bettered. It is my belief that women's leadership is strong and powerful as a collective voice and needs a forum for expression. For the purpose of thesis, let us forget about what has been written exploring the differences between men and women's leadership or trying to conjure images that symbolize women as a whole. The question of the thesis is: how can architecture clear obstacles so the voice of a group can be heard? How can architecture promote the sharing and exploration of ideas to further the development and growth of a group of individuals and a society as a whole?
The center's location in Washington DC, the political heart of the United States, enables WILL members to work closely with government, affiliated agencies and non-profit groups. The project includes joint facilities for women's organizations co-locating to WILL. Additionally, part of WILL's mission is the creation of a park developed as a memorial to women's leadership. This park will be located on the site of the Historic Columbia Hospital for Women, adjacent to WILL.
WILL performs several functions. First, WILL focuses on the architectural expression of good leadership. Second, it acts as a unifier for the various agencies, think tanks, non-profits, advocacy, and lobbying organizations involved in women's international leadership. Third, it develops international communications by providing a central conference center for several hundred attendees, a mechanism for self-funding the center. Fourth, it provides a state-of-the-art electronic library that can access information from all over the world. Fifth, it provides office spaces to lease organizations, a function that further establishes self-support. Sixth, it locates a quaint cafe close to the conference center and outdoor gathering area so the WILL users have a casual "meeting up" place. Seventh, short term stay residential units are provided for a handful of visiting scholars. And lastly, the facility establishes a gallery, a flexible high tech space, featuring women's issues and women as global contributors.