Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Barbie Becomes an Architect

Mattel's famous doll Barbie will become an architect in 2011. The iconic Barbie doll has been around for 52 years and, during that time, has had more than 125 careers. Mattel’s hot blonde has had every unlikely career from a surgeon to an astronaut and now, even though the idea lost the popular vote twice in the last 8 years, Mattel has announced that they are going ahead with Architect Barbie. Mattel will spotlight architecture as its ‘’Career of the Year’’ for the Barbie line and hopes to educate and encourage girls to consider architecture when thinking about what their jobs could be as adults. Architect Barbie should be available in stores in late summer.

Barbie is the first and only doll who’s had careers ranging from dog walker to presidential candidate. Her new career outfit includes thick black rimmed glasses, a blueprint holder, a skyline printed dress and high heeled boots. The hope is that this will get young girls thinking about architecture as a career.

Officially the American Institute of Architects says they believe Architect Barbie will help inspire a new generation to consider the profession of architecture. Individually architects are all over the place on their feelings about this whole thing. Some feel that architects don't carry blue-print tubes any more and that the bright pink associated with Barbie for decades is a little out of character for an architect. Many prefer a more manly version with pants and steel-toed boots which might be more accurate but probably wouldn't help marketing much.

About 17 percent of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) members are women. Women architects, Hayes McAlonie and Despina Stratigakos consulted with Mattel as they created Architect Barbie. Stratigakos has encouraged Mattel to consider architecture as a field for Barbie since it first announced the possibility in 2002.

Don't underestimate the power of play and the legendary appeal of Barbie - this is an excellent opportunity to get more girls thinking about becoming architects (and other types of designers). Get an Architect Barbie as a fundraising prize, use this as a chance to promote your program in the school and community. Add architecture to your curriculum if you haven't already done so.

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