Dr. Sharon Egretta Sutton, FAIA
Architecture education, professional advocacy
Architect and scholar Dr. Sharon Egretta Sutton, FAIA, received the Whitney Young Award for a wide-ranging career that uses the tools of architecture and city planning to fight for diversity and justice.
Originally from Cincinnati, Sutton began her professional life as a classical musician. After losing all three of her childhood homes to urban renewal projects, her interest in preservation and affordable housing began to compete with her music career. Renovating and redeveloping a Manhattan brownstone in between her music work, Sutton soon opened a new chapter as an architect and designer.
She enrolled at the Parsons School of Design to study interior design, and following the infamous 1968 student-led uprising at Columbia University, she was recruited by its architecture program. Stanford Britt, FAIA, the 2005 Whitney Young Award recipient, was Sutton’s classmate at Columbia and remembers her tenacity. “She questioned the kind of projects we were assigned to design. She ruffled feathers, insisting we have the option to choose assignments relevant to the communities in which we would be working.”
After opening her own office to focus on renovation and adaptive reuse, Sutton held adjunct teaching appointments at Pratt Institute and Columbia University. Her academic work led to additional advanced degrees in philosophy and psychology, and solidified the third leg of her professional life as a scholar and researcher.