Denise Scott Brown Wins Jane Drew Prize

John Hill
8. February 2017
Denise Scott Brown in Las Vegas in the late 1960s (Photo via Architect's Journal)

American architect Denise Scott Brown is the 2017 recipient of the Architects' Journal's Jane Drew Prize, "a lifetime achievement award [that] recognizes an architectural designer who through their work has raised the profile of women in architecture."

In their announcement of the prize, the AJ describes it as "a culmination of the grassroots drive to see her contribution to the profession adequately recognized – a movement that sprung from the Women in Architecture campaign back in 2013." That campaign aimed to give her a "retroactive Pritzker Prize," since her husband and business Partner Robert Venturi received it in 1991. (Ironically, Scott Brown wrote an essay, "Room at the Top? Sexism and the Star System in Architecture," two years before Venturi's Pritzker, which indicates she was fighting for recognition well before the 2013 campaign.) Although the campaign was unsuccessful, the efforts did lead to changes in the criteria the American Institute of Architects uses in its Gold Medal; in 2016 Scott Brown and Venturi won the AIA Gold Medal, the first time a duo won in its more than 100-year history of acknowleding individual architects.

In an interview with the AJ on being named the 2017 Jane Drew Prize recipient, Scott Brown said:

I’m a bit punch drunk on the whole subject of prizes as you can imagine given my history with them. I felt very bitter about prizes like the Pritzker and the AIA Gold Medal. I couldn’t even be nominated for the AIA Gold Medal for about 30 years. We kept getting our submissions sent back because they wouldn’t give it to two people and we wouldn’t take it separately. But things have happened which have made me very happy in my old age, and one of those is this prize and the petition which came out of the AJ’s work.

Previous recipients of the Jane Drew Prize include Odile Decq (2016), Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara of Grafton Architects (2015), Kathryn Findlay (2014) and Eva Jiřičná (2013).

Denise Scott Brown's contribution to the "Time-Space-Existence" exhibition at the 2016 Venice Biennale (Photo: John Hill/World-Architects)

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