Eleanore Pettersen AR’41 was a pioneer in the field of architecture. Following graduation, Pettersen apprenticed under legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright until 1943. In 1950, Pettersen became one of the first women licensed as a practicing architect in the state of New Jersey and, in 1952, she renovated a 200-year-old barn, turning it into a home and office, becoming the first woman in that state to open her own architectural office.
In 1975, she became the first woman appointed to the New Jersey State Board of Architects. She served as president of that board for two years. Pettersen primarily designed residences in New Jersey, but she was also active in civic and professional organizations like the Altrusa Club of Bergen County and the AIA Board, which elected her New Jersey’s first female Regional Director, serving from 1986 until 1989. In 1991 she became a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects.
In 2003, Pettersen’s archive was acquired by the International Archive of Women in Architecture. This archive includes the project files, sketches, drawings, blueprints, models, photographs and other materials from the over fifty years that Pettersen was active in the field of architecture.
Eleanore Pettersen was the first woman to receive a Cooper Union President’s Citation in 1965. She received the 1994 CUAA Augustus Saint-Gaudens Award and she was inducted into the Cooper Union Hall of Fame in 2009.
The CU School of Architecture continues to honor Eleanore through the creation of The Annual Eleanore Pettersen Lectures. The lectures, dedicated to the voices of women in architecture, are a lasting tribute to Ms. Pettersen, her significant impact in the world of architecture, and her love of The Cooper Union.