Etain Fitzpatrick decided when she was about 12 or 13 that she wanted to be an interior designer, but she also studied calculus, physics and chemistry at high school. When she was applying to university, her mother suggested architecture to her because she was “good at math and was artistic”. After a trial Introduction to Architecture Program at a Cornell summer school, she was hooked on the profession and received her BArch from Syracuse in 1993. Although she records that her class dropped from 130 to 100 after the first year, she only started to ask “where were the women” years later when writing her 5th year thesis.
Etain worked at several small practices in New York while completing her architectural registration. Once registered, she looked for further experience in a bigger office, choosing KPF as the “less corporate” option. Eventually at her own request, she moved to KPF’s London office in 2004.
Etain’s parents were originally from Ireland, so she spent time there and was partially educated in England. As she also studied in Florence and travelled extensively throughout Europe, her career has always had an international flavour. In 2009, she moved to Paris to work for the Renzo Piano Workshop to work on the Place and its neighbour the Shard. She moved back to London in 2010 to follow through on their construction.
Etain describes herself as a “dynamic problem-solver” who “likes to be involved in all aspects of a project from the overall development down to the details and material selection.” Since RWP, her career has followed a steady progression of increasing responsibility on major architectural projects, including senior designer positions at Wilkinson Eyre and currently at John Roberstson Architects.
Etain and Renzo Piano at the Place, London Bridge in 2012
During her time on the AIA Chapter Board, Etain was a prolific organiser of lectures, tours and events, most notably the London Bridge Day at the AIA 2014 London Conference. Her tenure as President coincided with the formation of the AIA International Region and she continued her involvement with the Region on its interim Board of Directors and then as Secretary and Newsletter Editor.