Early life and education
Architect and educator Shirley Jane Vernon began to realize her dreams when she was only in grade school, at the Bala Junior High School where she participated in the model-airplane club. Although she originally desired to become an aeronautical engineer, she switched to designing buildings. After receiving her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1953, she was awarded an Outstanding Student Medal from the American Institute of Architects, and likewise became the second woman from Penn State elected to Tau Beta Pi, the national engineering honor society.
Career in Architecture
Vernon’s first job after graduation was working in the architectural firm of Vincent G. Kling, who specialized in commercial designs. Although Vernon was more akin to working on the architecture of laboratories, she designed many significant buildings during her time with Kling. Eventually she left to open her own firm before applying for and receiving the title of project manager at Ballinger Co. She was with Ballinger for two years before starting up her own firm again, during which time she successfully served clientele of civil importance, such as the Philadelphia Department of Recreation, the University of Pennsylvania, Rosemont College, and Philadelphia Health Services, Inc.
Major Buildings and Projects
- U.S. Embassy Office in Quito, Ecuador (for which the firm received a gold medal from the city of Quito)
- The Union Carbide Technical Center in Tarrytown, New York
- The Franklin Institute Research Laboratories in Center City (Philadelphia), Pennsylvania
- Adjunct Professor, Department of Architecture / Professor of Design Fundamentals and Urban Planning, Department of Civil Engineering at Drexel University, 1957-87.
- Professor, Department of Interior Design at Moore College, 1986-96.
- Department Consultant, Department of Interior Design at Moore College, 1996.
- Vice President, American Institute of Architects – Philadelphia Chapter
- American Institute of Architects – (Member: 1965); (Fellow: 1976)