Alden, N. Sue

Early life and Education

Sue Alden graduated with B.A. in Architecture from University of Washington, Seattle in 1951.

Career in Architecture

Alden specialized in the development and incorporation of building codes into design at a time when few were knowledgeable about codes. Her experience as a project architect and manager with NBBJ, Seattle for live performance theaters, high technology research centers, and prototype designs for Trident missile servicing facilities faciliated this work. She headed an AIA/DCLU  committee to find ways to improve the permitting process by clarifying the procedures and shortening the process time. As a member of AIA Washington State Council and Architects and Engineers Legislative Council/AELC Committees, she guided the monitoring and prioritization of AIA lobbying efforts for proposed legislation at the state level affecting the profession and environment. 

Alden influenced code development in both state and national jurisdictions (Amended Uniform Codes). Through her work with students and faculty at the University of Washington (with her husband Richard Alden, who served on the UW Architecture faculty), Sue Alden emphasized the need to understand and incorporate code regulations early in the design process to avoid re-design issues later on. 

As a managing associate in one of the largest architectural firms in the nation at NBBJ, she served as a positive role model to aspiring women architecture students. Her experience as a project architect for varied and complex building types is broader than that which has been available to the small women-owned firms of her colleagues.

Major Buildings and Projects

  • University of Washington, Washington Technology Center 1990
  • Two Union Square, 6th & Union Seattle, WA 1989
  • Bagley Wright Theatre at Seattle Center 1983
  • Jefferson Terrace Seattle, WA 1967
  • Central United Protestant Church Richland, WA 1965
  • Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit Vashon, Wa 1964
  • First Methodist Church Mt. Vernon, WA 1961
  • Central Methodist Church Sedro Wooley, WA 1959

Press and Awards

  • Received the “Women of Achievement Award” from Seattle area organization of Past Presidents

Institutional Affiliations

  • Representative: Seattle Chapter AIA to AIA Washington Council, 1981
  • Member: City of Seattle Building Code Advisory Board
  • Member: Seattle Fire Prevention Code Advisory Board
  • Treasurer, Association for Women in Architecture, charter member, 1974-2004
  • Design Studio instructor, University of Washington College of Architecture and Urban Planning, 1974
  • Member of the Seattle Central Community College Technical Drafting Curriculum Advisory Board
  • Member of Elliot Shorelines Exhibit Advisory Board

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