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  • Faculty

  • Sharon Egretta Sutton

    Distinguished Visiting Professor of Architecture


    Office Location
    Parsons Faculty Hotseat

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    Sharon Egretta Sutton


    Dr. Sharon Egretta Sutton, FAIA is a citizen architect and scholar who promotes cultural inclusivity in her profession and in the populations it serves. Her books include When Ivory Towers Were Black: A Story about Race in Americas Cities and Universities (2017) and the forthcoming, A Pedagogy of Hope: Pursuing Democracy’s Promise through Place-Based Activism, both narrating America's continuing struggle for racial justice.

    In addition to being a distinguished visiting professor of architecture at Parsons School of Design, Dr. Sutton has served on the faculties of Columbia University, Pratt Institute, the University of Cincinnati, the University of Michigan, and the University of Washington. She was the twelfth African American woman to be licensed as an architect, the first to be promoted to full professor of architecture, and the second to be elevated to fellowship in the American Institute of Architects.

    Early in her career, Dr. Sutton worked as a professional musician in New York City, most notably in the original cast of Man of La Mancha. Her fine art is in the Library of Congress and has been widely exhibited and collected. She holds five academic degrees—in music, architecture, philosophy, and psychology—and has studied graphic art internationally.

    Dr. Sutton received the Whitney M. Young Jr. Award from the AIA, the Medal of Honor from both the New York and Seattle chapters of that organization, and the Oculus Award from the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation.  She is a distinguished professor of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture and an inductee into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame.

    Degrees Held

    Higher Education

    City University of New York Environmental Psychology Program
    Master of Arts and PhD in Psychology (1982)
    Master of Philosophy (1981)

    Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation
    Master of Architecture (1973)

    Parsons School of Design Department of Interior Design
    Transferred to Columbia University

    University of Hartford Hartt College of Music
    Bachelor of Music (French Horn) (1963)

    Manhattan School of Music, Studied with Gunther Schuller
    Transferred to Hartt College

    Continuing Education

    American Institute of Architects
    Mandatory Continuing Education System

    W.K. Kellogg Foundation
    Leadership Development Conferences and Seminars

    Art Studio Internships
    Sev Shoon in Seattle (Collagraph, Photolithography
    Lawrence Barker Studio in Barcelona, Spain (Papermaking)
    Printmaking Workshop in New York City (Intaglio)
    Studio di Santa Reparata in Florence, Italy (Intaglio)

    Professional Affiliation

    American Collegiate Schools of Architecture
    College of Distinguished Professors (Founding Member)

    American Institute of Architects
    College of Fellows
    AIA New York Chapter (Medal of Honor) AIA New York
    Formerly AIA Seattle Chapter (Medal of Honor) AIA Washington

    American Psychological Association

    Recent Publications

    Books and Monographs

    Sharon Egretta Sutton (February 2017).  When Ivory Towers Were Black: A Story about Race and the Struggle to Transform Cities and Universities with Foreword by James Stewart Polshek.  New York: Fordham University Press Empire State Editions.


    Brian D. Goldstein, [Book Review] “Sharon Egretta Sutton, When Ivory Towers Were Black: A Story about Race in Americas Cities and Universities,” Journal of Architectural Education Online, (09 March 2018) available online at– page8/

    Sharon E. Sutton and Susan P. Kemp (eds.) (2011).  The Paradox of Urban Space: Inequality and Transformation in Marginalized Communities.  New York: Palgrave Macmillian.


    Richardson, Tina (2011, 06 July). Urban space as a medium for democracy. Parallax, 17 (3), 113–115.

    Sharon E. Sutton, Susan P. Kemp, Lorraine Guiterréz, and Susan Saegert (2006).  Urban Youth Programs in America: A Study of Youth, Community, and Social Justice Conducted for the Ford Foundation.  Seattle, WA: University of Washington.

    Book Chapters and Articles

    Sharon E. Sutton (2015).  Foreword; and Chapter eleven: reality-based learning in design studio education.  In Carla Jackson Bell (Ed.), Space Unveiled (pp. xvi–xvii and pp,102–112).  New York: Routledge Research in Architecture Series.

    Sharon E. Sutton (2013, September).  Special Issue "Designing Spaces for City Living" [Special Guest Editor], Buildings.  [Open access available online at].

    Sharon E. Sutton (2011).  Struggling for the right to housing: a critical analysis of the evolution of West Seattle's High Point.  In The Paradox of Urban Space (pp. 29–51).

    Sharon E. Sutton and Susan P. Kemp (2011).  Introduction: place as marginality and possibility.  In The Paradox of Urban Space, pp. 1–9

    Sharon E. Sutton and Susan P. Kemp (2011).  Place: a site of social and environmental inequity.  In The Paradox of Urban Space (pp. 13–28).

    Sharon E. Sutton and Susan P. Kemp (2011).  Place: a site of individual and collective transformation.  In The Paradox of Urban Space (pp. 113–134).

    Sharon E. Sutton and Susan P. Kemp (2011).  Conclusions: Standing shoulder-to- shoulder in a place-conscious society.  In The Paradox of Urban Space (pp. 259–265).

    Sharon E. Sutton (2008).  Engaging the public, seeking common ground; and Discovering the power of youth. In  Nancy B. Solomon (ed.), Architecture: Celebrating the Past, Designing the Future (pp. 64–77;and pp. 84).  New York: Visual Reference Inc.; Washington, DC: The American Institute of Architects.

    Sharon E. Sutton (2007).  A social justice perspective on youth and community development: theorizing the processes and outcomes of participation.  Children, Youth, and Environments, 17 (2), 616–645.  [Available online at: http://www.colorado. edu/journals/cye].

    Sharon E. Sutton and Susan P. Kemp (2006, September).  Integrated social science and design inquiry through interdisciplinary design charrettes: an approach to participatory community problem-solving.  American Journal of Community Psychology, 38 (1–2), 125–139.

    Sharon E. Sutton and Susan P. Kemp (2005).  Children's participation in constructing a social just public sphere.  In Mark Blades and Christopher Spencer (eds.), Children and Their Environments: Learning, Using, and Designing Spaces (pp. 256–276).  Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

    Book Reviews

    Sharon E. Sutton (2014, Spring). Review essay: can the ideals of public scholarship help resolve conflicts between urban universities and declining post-industrial communities?  Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 96–101.

    Sharon E. Sutton (2012, Fall). Review essay: can service-learning help restore the public university's role in safeguarding American democracy? Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 69–73.

    Journalism and Commentaries

    Sharon E. Sutton (2015, 31 January).  New urban unlimited.  Alternative-Talk 1150 KKNW, AM Radio.

    Sharon E. Sutton (2012, 13 January).  Listen to citizens on Virginia Mason expansion.  Puget Sound Business Journal, Guest Opinion, Print Edition.

    Sharon E. Sutton (2009, 5 June).  Major institutions should not be immune from Seattle's pedestrian-friendly municipal code.  The Seattle Times.

    Sharon E. Sutton (2008, 10 July).  Public needs to stay involved when development is reviewed.  The Seattle Times, Local B9.

    Sharon E. Sutton (2008, Winter).  One man's quest for the everyday practice of architecture: honoring the legacy of Stephen A. Kliment, FAIA.  Arcade, 47.

    Sharon E. Sutton (2004, 30 July).  Get youth involved in their communities: art activities help young people connect with their world.  Seattle Post Intelligencer.

    Performances and Appearances

    Recent Academic Papers, Presentations, and Workshops

    Has been a distinguished lecturer and guest studio critic at more than 50 colleges and universities internationally.  Presentations published as proceedings listed under "Book Reviews, Proceedings, and Other Minor Publications.

    Sutton, Sharon Egretta (2020, 06 March).  “I do not work for clients . . . I work with them:” a pedagogy for working collaboratively.  Goff Chair of Creative Architecture and keynote lecture at the Schools of Thought: Rethinking Architectural Pedagogy Conference at the University of Oklahoma Gibbs College of Architecture.

    Sutton, Sharon Egretta (2019, 14 November).  Activists transforming injustice: this is what change looks like.  Keynote lecture at the Transformations: Action on Equity Symposium at the University of Melbourne in Australia, sponsored by Parlour.

    Sutton, Sharon Egretta (12 April, 2019). Re-mapping America’s landscape of injustice: a call for environmental activism.  Lecture at Mississippi State University School of Architecture with support from the Office of Diversity.

    Sharon E. Sutton (2017) 07 October).  A case study from the Civil Rights Movement: when ivory towers were black.  Panel presentation at the Organizing and Mobilizing Session of the Black in Design Conference at Harvard University Graduate School of Design in Cambridge, MA.

    Sharon E. Sutton (2017) 06 September).  When ivory towers were black: lessons in re-imagining universities and communities.  Public lecture at the University of Southern California School of Architecture in Los Angeles, CA.

    Also given on: (2017, 26 September) at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning in Ann Arbor, MI.
    Also given on: (2017 02 November) at the University of Pennsylvania City and Regional Planning Department in Philadelphia, PA.

    Sharon E. Sutton (2017) 18 May).  Designers’ privileges and responsibilities.  Speech at the SCE Recognition Ceremony at Parsons School of Design in New York City.

    Sharon E. Sutton (2017 23 February).  Book launch: When Ivory Towers Were Black.  Panel discussion by Reinhold Martin and Mabel O. Wilson with State Senator Bill Perkins at the Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation, Columbia University in the City of New York.

    Sharon E. Sutton  (2016, 16 March).  A vision for the future: realizing the promise of justice. Keynote lecture at the ACSA/AIA Housing and Community Development Workshop, 104th ACSA Annual Meeting in Seattle, WA.

    Recent Presentations in Professional and Public Settings

    Has been a keynote speaker, panelist, and facilitator at meetings in architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, urban planning, and psychology; and in community settings.

    Sharon E. Sutton (2017, 25 October).  Evolving role of research in architecture.  Panel presentation at the AIANY Social Science and Architecture History Primer Session in New York City.

    Sharon E. Sutton (2017, 18 August).  Learning to conduct a chorus: community design charrettes as the stage for a broader voice.  Lecture at the AIANY Civic Leadership Program in New York City.

    Sharon E. Sutton (2017, 13 February).  Oculus book talk: When Ivory Towers Were Black.  Lecture with moderated discussion by Carol Lowenstein, FAIA, Center for Architecture in New York City.

    Sharon E. Sutton (2016, 20 May).  Panel presentation at Moving the Needle: Achieving Equity States with Architecture Schools, 2016 AIA National Convention in Philadelphia, PA.

    Sharon E. Sutton (2015, 22 September).  Workshop facilitation at ENCAMPED in Ballad: let's house the urban poor at the Seattle Design Festival 2015: Design for Equity, Seattle, WA.

    Sharon E. Sutton (2015, 31 July).  Panel presentation at Conversations with the Diaspora, Center for Architecture in New York City.

    Sharon E. Sutton (2015, 14 May).  Panel presentation at Community Engagement: Professional and Academic Collaboration, 2015 AIA National Convention in Atlanta, GA.

    Sutton, Sharon E, (2014, 06 November).  Panel presentation at the State of Design Education session at the Design Leadership Summit, United Nations and Industry City in New York City.

    Sharon E. Sutton (2014, 02 October).  Practice makes perfect: coaching emerging professionals in the arts of leadership.  Luncheon keynote at AIA Northwest and Pacific Region Leadership Summit, University of Washington–Tacoma in Tacoma, WA.

    Sharon E. Sutton (2014, 03 October).  Alternatives to gentrification: can Hilltop's cultural heritage as a working-class community be preserved? Continuing education seminar for AIA Southwest Washington Chapter, Glass Museum in Tacoma, WA.

    Sharon E. Sutton (2013, 25 October).  Panel presentation at the American Institute of Architects Women's Leadership Summit, Hotel Palomar and Phoenix Art Museum in Phoenix, AR.

    Sharon E. Sutton (2011, 17 June).  Book reading and moderated discussion by Victoria Kaplan.  Summer Solstice sponsored by AIA Seattle Diversity Roundtable, Miller Hull Architects in Seattle, WA.

    Sharon E. Sutton (2011, 13 May).  Whitney M.  Young Jr.  Award Forum with Jack Travis, FAIA.  Continuing education seminar for the AIA National Convention in New Orleans, LA.


    Research Interests

    Afrocentric design, diversity and inclusion, participatory planning and design, racial justice, social justice, youth and community development

    Awards And Honors

    American Institute of Architects, New York Chapter
    Medal of Honor Award

    American Institute of Architects, Seattle Chapter
    Medal of Honor Award

    American Institute of Architects
    Whitney M. Young, Jr. Award

    American Architectural Foundation
    K-12 Architectural Education Award of Merit for CEEDS

    American Institute of Architects, Seattle Chapter
    Community Service Award

    Jeannette and David McKinley Fellowship
    Faculty Research Support

    Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame
    Life Recognition Award

    Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture
    Distinguished Professor Award

    American Institute of Architects
    Elevation to Fellowship

    University of Michigan
    Regents Award for Distinguished Public Service

    American Planning Association
    Education Award for Teaching the Public about Planning

    UM School of Business Administration
    First Round Award, National Zell Lurie Fellowship

    W.K. Kellogg Foundation
    Group VII National Fellowship

    National Endowment for the Arts
    Design Research Recognition Award

    Future Courses

    Design Studio 5
    PUAD 4010, Fall 2022

    Past Courses

    Design Studio 3
    PSCE 5201, Fall 2021

    Design Studio 4
    PGAR 5202, Spring 2022

    Independent Study
    PGLT 5900, Spring 2022

    The Right to Shelter
    UTNS 5155, Spring 2022

    The Right to Shelter
    PSCE 5155, Spring 2022

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