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Daphne Brown was born in Manchester, N.H., and raised in Gardner, Mass. She graduated from Walnut Hill School in Natick, Mass., and went on to the University of Pennsylvania (B.A. 1970) and University of Washington (Master of Architecture 1973). She was awarded a Loeb Fellowship in 1989-1990 for studies at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. Brown was a principal with Kumin Associates Inc.
Throughout her life, Brown maintained an intense curiosity about place in an historical context. From trips to England at a young age to visit her mother’s family to ferreting out old graveyards and rock walls in the New England woods and countryside, Brown developed a keen historical imagination and sense of landscape, families and communities as they evolved over time. She approached her life in Anchorage and Alaska with a similar curiosity and wonder; often commenting on how privileged she was to be part of an ever-evolving city situated in the wilderness.
Her career as a prominent Anchorage architect reflected her love and respect for place and community. Arriving in Anchorage in 1975 Brown worked for CCC Architects under the tutelage of Ed Crittenden. In 1987 she went to work with Kumin Associates. These 35 years included significant service to her profession and community at national, state, and local levels serving various professional boards and commissions, including multiple terms as chair of the Municipality of Anchorage Planning and Zoning Commission and state and regional licensing boards. Her public service reflected her deep commitment to viewing public planning, not just from the perspective of an architect, but as an active and involved citizen of the community.
This public service commitment started early in her career at CCC and was reflected in some of her most significant projects throughout the state. It culminated in the Anchorage museum’s expansion project where she led the design and construction team as the project manager for the responsible architect. This unique project demanded leading a complex, collaborative effort among the London-based design architect, the owner, the users, multiple specialty consultants and contractors.
Her colleagues said Brown’s special qualities were subtle and quiet, somewhat elusive to define, but charismatic – rather like the qualities of fine architecture. She was smart, thoughtful, headstrong, thorough, persistent, subtle, direct and relatively ego-free. She worked diligently and quietly, not making a big fuss, blazing trails in fields where women were just starting to be accepted. She had a big heart but she also had principles and wouldn’t let kindness sway her position. This kind firmness was a key aspect of her leadership,and probably instrumental in her success at leading the museum expansion to fruition.
Brown started her architectural education at a time when women were a rarity in the field. Over the years she mentored hundreds of aspiring young women through educational outreach in the Anchorage School District gifted program, through outreach and mentoring intern architects in her work and by example in her service work at the municipal, state and national levels of her service organizations.
Brown was a YWCA Woman of Achievement (1994) and a mentor in the ASD programs, and her work was featured nationally in the “Women in American Architecture” traveling show (1978-1988). The American Institute of Architects Alaska Awards programs honored a number of her architecture projects.
Most important throughout her life were family, friends and colleagues. She felt very fortunate to have spent the better part of her life with her husband, Jonathan, and daughter Catherine.
Brown said she believed from an early age the integration of the cultural aspects (art, music, literature) of our society into the political, educational, economic and governmental systems creates a better environment and quality of life for all.
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/-stQoU9jQ_w