As the museum looks forward to undertaking a major architectural project of its own in the next few years, our current exhibition, Equal Partners , provides an opportunity to reflect on contemporary architecture. The exhibition features the work of fifteen American firms headed by male and female partners. Two of theseAce and Fernau and Hartman-are based here in the East Bay, and several of the architects are graduates or faculty of UC Berkeley. The exhibition, organized by Helen Searing of Smith College, places a long-awaited and well-deserved spotlight on the critical role of collaboration in the field of architecture-which has historically been masked behind the myth of the isolated hero as architect, from Louis Sullivan to I. M. Pei-and recognizes the advance of women in a field which was slow to admit them. (One of the few successful women architects of the early part of the century, Julia Morgan, attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, becoming the first woman to graduate from there, because she was not accepted by any American school of architecture. As soon as she was able to, she helped finance the education of young women aspiring to be architects.) Each firm is represented by two projects-one built and one in design-which include airports, museums, houses, artists' studios, piers, churches, and office buildings. They are described by drawings, models, photographs, and computer-simulated walk-throughs of the spaces. There is no single predominant style. You can find spare, modernist designs but also radical deconstructive schemes and a range in materials from warm woods to high-tech synthetics.