Jennie Sue Brown


Brown, Jennie Sue

(1940 – )

Architect Jennie Sue Brown is one of a select group of women who ascended to the Presidency of the Seattle chapter of the AIA. When she was elected by her colleagues in 1987, Brown served as the chapter’s second woman President despite the organization being chartered in 1894. Over the course of her career Brown continued to be heavily involved in a variety of governmental and professional organizations. She was appointed to serve on the Tacoma City Board of Adjustments in 1972, and became the AIA Washington Council President in 1991. For several years she also served on the AIA Risk Management Committee.

Born March 12, 1940 and raised in Oklahoma, Brown graduated from Shawnee High School in Shawnee, Oklahoma in 1958. She studied architecture/engineering at Oklahoma State University (1959-1963), at the time one of three women in the program. Anxious to see the West, upon graduation Brown took a job with the notable architectural firm of Robert Billsbrough Price in Tacoma.

With work experience at hand, in 1970 she joined The Bumgardner Partnership, led by Albert Bumgardner, Al Dreyer, and Peter Parsons. Brown’s skills were immediately recognized by the partnership and she became a managing partner in 1975. Her primary role was serving as project manager and program analyzer. With a staff of 32, it was Brown’s skill as a project administrator that held the very busy office together and kept projects moving throughout 1970s and into the 1990s. Her specialty was mapping out long-term expansion strategies for a variety of clients.

During the 1980s, the firm, by then called “Bumgardner Architects,” secured many large urban mixed-use projects in Seattle, including Market Place North (1982); Waterfront Place (1983); and Watermark Tower (1983). Other notable work included Seattle’s Claremont Hotel (later known as Hotel Andra); a renovation of the Globe Navigation Building (1982); the Victoria Apartments; the 101 Stewart Building (1981); 1800 Eastlake; Fishermen’s Center; Pike Market Congregate Care Residence; a Special Residence for AIDS Housing of Washington; a remodel of The Rainier Club; and a variety of golf course clubhouses.

In 1994 Brown was honored by her colleagues with her election to the prestigious College of Fellows. That same year the AIA Washington Council honored her legacy of effective engagement by establishing the Jennie Sue Brown Award. The award is the highest honor given by the Council and recognizes members who have made “a significant statewide contribution; served the profession through increasing public awareness, political action, or government involvement; and continually enhanced the practice of architecture.”

Brown continued to work for the partnership through the early 2000s and was instrumental in the merging of the firm with Carlson Architects in 2003.  She is now retired and lives in Ashland, Oregon.

– Michael C Houser

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