April 9, 2013
Eleanore Pettersen, FAIA
Eleanore Pettersen, FAIA, who was born in Passaic, N.J., was a pioneer who helped pave the way for women in architecture.
Pettersen was one of the first women to be licensed as an architect in New Jersey and the first woman in New Jersey to open a private practice, which was in Saddle River, N.J., from 1952 to 2002. Her work, including single and multifamily residential and commercial facilities, won local design awards and international recognition.
One of her best-known projects was a 15-room house, swimming pool and tennis court on a four-acre plot in Saddle River, N.J., which she designed in 1971 for John Alford, a New Jersey businessman, who sold it to Richard M. Nixon, who moved there from the White House in 1981.
Prior to establishing her private practice, Pettersen analyzed enemy building structures for the National Defense Research Committee, worked for the Tennessee Valley Authority designing power service buildings and visitors’ facilities and had a Taliesin Fellowship with Frank Lloyd Wright in Arizona and Wisconsin.
She was the first woman president of both the New Jersey Board of Architects in 1978 and of AIA-NJ in 1985; the first woman regional director for AIA-NJ in 1987; and, in 1991, she was one of the first women to be elevated to the College of Fellows in the AIA. In 2010, Pettersen was posthumously honored with the Michael Graves Lifetime Achievement Award for her contribution to the profession.
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