Architect Jeanne Gang, best known for her design of Chicago’s Aqua Tower, has just received a $500,000.00, 2011 MacArthur Genius Grant. The Aqua Tower is the tallest building in the world to be designed by a woman, questioning Erik Erikson’s theory that boys build towers with blocks and girls build rooms and enclosures close to the ground. Gang, in a September 20th interview with Melissa Block on NPR, talks about the important connection between her early play experience and her architectural career. She notes that she was not interested in dolls and instead made playhouses and structures for the neighborhood kids. Gang emphasizes how much she learned from breaking things, by making changes in materials, rather than just observing them.
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Read more on research on gender differences in children’s block structures: The Complete Block Book, Eugene Provenzo, Arlene Brett, pp. 47-51.