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Arizona’s first female architect: Barbara Anne “Nikki” Rysdale

From 1949 through the 1960’s there was only 1 registered and practicing female architect in all of Arizona, and you’ve probably never heard of her.

When “Niki” Rysdale was waiting for to hear if her application to be come an architect would be approved she was nervous. She was nervous because at the time one of the architects on the Arizona Board of Technical Registration was none other than Frank Lloyd Wright. At that time Wright was already a master of his craft but it was also well know that Wright believed women wouldn’t make the best architects, at least that’s what Nikki had heard.

Luckily for Nikki Rysdale though the applications were submitted with numbers not names and that day Mr. Wright and the other board members gave Nikki the seal of approval to start practicing.

It’s easy to forget that when Nikki graduated, Arizona had only been a state for 37 years and it was truly the wild west.  A graduate of the University of Arizona Barbara Anne Rysdale should be a role model for all young Arizona women.

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