As the Principal of New Jersey’s oldest architectural firm, SSP Architects, Jeanne Perantoni has guided this long-time Woman Owned Business to greater heights by helping to expand its architectural design impact and legacy throughout New Jersey. During her 14-year tenure as Principal and a career spanning over 40 years, she has partnered with her fellow Principals and firm team members that she has mentored at SSP to bring to fruition thousands of projects and policies that have benefitted the state and institutions. This includes projects in the commercial, government, educational, financial, non-profit, healthcare, and public sectors.
Jeanne’s special expertise lies in facility master planning, where she excels in facilitating the process and solving often disparate architectural issues, site constraints, and programmatic challenges. A pioneer in bringing facility master planning to the public sector in the early 2000s, Jeanne led the way in adapting private sector master planning techniques for direct application to nonprofit organizations and to New Jersey’s K-12 and higher education institutions.
In 2005, she developed the state’s first public school facility master plan for the Vineland school district. This served as a model for the state’s requirement implemented a few years later that all New Jersey districts must produce a 5-year facilities master plan. Jeanne’s work has been a major impetus in shifting the emphasis away from just having adequate educational spaces in districts to keeping the student-teacher ratio rates among the best in the nation.
Jeanne shines when working with large groups of diverse individuals, helping to facilitate the hands on and collaborative process and helping to achieve unified group consensus and ultimately a plan of action to implement. Jeanne’s efforts in this area have led to national recognition as an Accredited Learning Environment Planner (ALEP), one of the first three individuals to achieve this designation in New Jersey and one of only 194 worldwide.
Jeanne applies her process to facility projects of all types and sizes, ranging from small school districts to multi-site college campuses to corporate headquarter buildouts and to phased development of nonprofit goals. Her ability to delve down into each project’s nuances and understand the unique operations of each impacted component or structure is unparalleled.
During her years as a leader of SSP Architects – now in its 132nd year of operation – she has always emphasized the importance of being at the forefront of architectural design innovation and change in the state. This is particularly the case in the K-12 planning and design arena, where the firm’s master facility planning initiatives led to many firsts, including being:
Jeanne has driven the firm’s reputation forward as a statewide leader in “green” school design and in constructing “high performance” building components and systems for use as 3-D texts and hands on lessons. Jeanne and the firm, headquartered in Somerville, NJ, remain committed to incorporating “Green Design” concepts and smart growth principles in all their projects.
Jeanne grew up in the business, having an architect for a father and brother. As a young child, she would tag along to construction sites and be given a front row viewing of how buildings get constructed and how design and craftsmanship come together. This gave her the impetus to become a woman pioneer in the architecture field – becoming a registered architect in 1984 when less than 2% of registered architects in New Jersey were women.
She earned her A.B. in Architecture from Princeton University, and her MA in Architecture from Rice University. Her volunteer work includes being a Trustee of Raritan Valley Community College Foundation Board, vice chair of the Somerset County Energy Council, serving on the NJ State Board of Architects, D&R Greenway Land Trust Foundation, and on the Advisory Board of Hillier College of Architecture and Design at New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Her pioneering work in community school planning has won recognition from the Governor’s office as a model for advancing high performance features and integrating technology with essential community functions to better serve communities and to create welcoming places. Jeanne currently serves as co-chair of the AIA NJ Task Force on Safe School Design, charged with researching national best practices and showing how to apply these practices to meet local NJ needs for healthier environments, greater physical safety, and wellness support.
Never content to rest on her laurels, during a recent interview Jeanne said she has been stimulated to expand and renew her design approach by responding to the call to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in the planning process of built environments. Her focus has shifted to creating forms which aim to ensure that buildings are fully accessible and relatable to all types of people in the world. She notes that her expanded design vocabulary heeds the growing call for greater sustainability, accountability, net-zero carbon impact, and environments which express the indigenous use of natural materials and biophilic features.
Jeanne said, “It is especially refreshing to work with younger designers who are bringing new technological and visualization skills to the table, fostering greater collaborations between our A/E teams and clients. This has made the entire design build process more exciting, resonant, transparent, and responsive – leading to better outcomes and solutions.”
Awards she has received include the Council of Educational Facility Planners’ Outstanding Achievement Award for her work with New Jersey school districts, and the NJBIZ Best 50 Women in Business Award in 2006 – the same year she was honored as one of “Somerset County’s Outstanding Women.” Four of her K-12 school projects have received “Excellence in Design” citations, as well as being published in the National School Boards Association Journal, Learning by Design, and attaining LEED Platinum certification.
She received a Somerset County Planning Award for her 25-year facilities master plan for Raritan Valley Community College completed in 2003 and envisioning the 2030 campus.
Perhaps her greatest achievement is being the proud mother of two sons and “Nona” to two young granddaughters. And in a reversal of the typical, Jeanne followed in her sons’ footsteps by taking up rowing, a sport they enjoyed in college. Jeanne has always enjoyed the water, having been a competitive swimmer since her YMCA and college days. She now continues to test herself in masters rowing competitions throughout the northeast in regatta races.