Women on Top Awards: The Transformers

For Marie Claire's third annual Women on Top Awards, we combed the country for the up-and-comers leading thought-revolutions, creating businesses, and making names for themselves in fields from the military to the arts. None is a day over 40, with a couple of notable exceptions: We've added a "Super Woman" category to celebrate women of any age who made their mark on 2012. But their accomplishments speak for themselves...

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    10. Top Architect

    Kara Bartelt, 38, design principal, Lettuce Office

    Résumé: Bartelt's Buffer House, a 2,500-square-foot energy-efficient home encased in greenery, won an international award. Her next project, a solar array for Occidental College, will remove 1,250 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. And toHOLD, her line of designed objects incorporating tillandsia air plants, is a top seller on Etsy.

    Path to the Top: "When I worked for Cesar Pelli, the brilliant Argentine-American architect, incredible projects came his way. It inspired me to do something entrepreneurial. My parents owned small businesses, so working for myself was a no-brainer."

    Defining Moment: "I loved designing the Overture Center for the Arts in Madison, Wisconsin, while I was working for Pelli. Every decision, from the angles of the sight lines to the fabric on the chairs, was important."

    Home Improvement: "I used to want to create my own house, but now I'm interested in more influential projects. I'll always tinker and change things wherever I live, but I don't want to design the 'perfect' home anymore."

    Graeme Mitchell
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