Ellie Brickham moved to Aspen in 1951 after attending the University of Colorado’s School of Architecture from1941-1944. Construction was a family business, and her motivation to become a designer began as a child. She was attracted by the skiing, but found herself the only female architect in town until Ellen Harland arrived in 1958.
Early in her career, Brickham worked in Fritz Benedict’s office and collaborated on projects with both Benedict and Bayer, participating in work going on at the Aspen Institute. Like Benedict, she had a strong interest in passive solar techniques. During her time in that office and, later, in her own practice out of her home, she designed a number of residences and commercial buildings in town, including houses for several Music Festival artists in Aspen Grove, the elegantly simple brick Strandberg Residence (1973, 433 Bleeker Street-demolished) and the Patricia Moore Building (1963, 610 E. Hyman Avenue). In Pitkin County, she designed numerous homes in Pitkin Green and Starwood, on Red Mountain, including her own house (1955), with south and west walls made completely of glass. Her works, which totaled at least sixty in the Aspen area, are generally characterized by spare, simple forms and minimal detailing. Brickham’s projects focus on an “impeccable sense of proportion and feeling of lightness.”