Alumna, professor of architecture 1955-1986
Elmira Smyrl was an accomplished woman and a pioneer among woman in both the fields of architecture and engineering, stemming back as far as 1941 with her first college degree. Her name appears in documents from the late 1950s as the only female professor participating in a faculty workshop run by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. She was a licensed and practicing architect in Texas before moving to Montana State University in 1955. In the same year, Smyrl contributed to the design of the Montana State Field House (Brick Breeden), which, at its 1957opening, was said to be the largest clear-span wooden structure in the world. Her unique sense of style, thoughtful engagement and fierce determination impacted hundreds of students and is still talked about decades later. She was a dedicated professor, instructor and mentor. She was a disciplinarian in the classroom and appreciated hard work. Smyrl was one of the few women in the department and covered quite a few of the areas of expertise needed to become an accomplished architect. She picked up another master’s degree in applied sciences from MSU and became an expert on civil defense, including the design of fallout shelters.
Elmira Smyrl positively affected hundreds of architecture students. She set a shining example for young women in a male- dominated field throughout her long career.