When she wasn’t designing offices for Silicon Valley giants like Apple and IBM, Sigrid Rupp was busy traveling around the world, writing and sketching the scenes that caught her eye. From 1966 to 2003, she visitedover 30 countries, traveling extensively throughout North America, Europe, and East Asia. With an eye for design inenvironments both natural and built, shemeticulously documented her many travels in photographs, diaries and sketchbooks. Maybe alittle different fromthe typical contents inour many collections that formthe International Archive of Women in Architecture, but I think they help show who Sigrid Rupp was- always curious, always creating.
Rupp developed herfascination with architecture and the built environment as a child growing up in post-war Germany in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Much of Europe was in the process of rebuilding from the devastation of World War II, and Rupp got to witness first-hand how modern architecture and urban planning could transform communities. At age 10 she moved with her family to California, and at 17 she enrolled at UC Berkeley to study architecture. In 1976, 5years after receiving her architectural license, she founded her own firm, SLR Architects, in the San Francisco bay area,whereshe served as president until she closed the office in 1998.
Rupptraveled and sketched extensively throughout her career, butafter her retirement, shedevoted more time to travels and to watercolor painting. Her watercolors of bay area landscapes were featured in several juried shows of the Pacific Art League of Palo Alto. She also beganhosting a rotating art show at the Ravenswood Medical Clinic in East Palo Alto, where she had previously worked as project architect.
Rupp kept traveling and sketching until late 2003, when she was diagnosed with gastric cancer. After a six month battle, she passed away on May 27th, 2004, at age 61. In her obituary, her family writes that she was “was the life of the party at family functions where she told stories from her extensive travels and loved her champagne.” Though her adventures were cut short, her passion for seeing the world lives on in her travel diaries and sketchbooks, which can be seen in full in our reading room. The finding aid for the Sigrid Rupp Collectioncontains an extensive list of all the sketches, photographs and recollectionsfrom her travels. You can see a small sampling of items from her collection, including some of these drawings, onour IAWA digital collections site. Happy travels!