Media Stories

Architect Keeps Building Her Case for 1991 Pritzker

Monday, April 29, 2013

Architect Denise Scott Brown, now 81, has never been happy about having the big architecture prize go to her husband Robert Venturi. Students behind a Change.org petition are backing up her case for retroactive recognition.



Denise Scott Brown

(WOMENSENEWS)— Architect Denise Scott Brown, 81, has never been shy about voicing her displeasure at being out of the 1991 Pritzker Prize that her husband and partner Robert Venturi won in 1991.

She famously boycotted Venturi’s ceremony, and when history threatened to repeat itself some years later, Venturi refused to accept the AIA Gold Medal because Scott Brown was once again excluded, Architectural Record reported April 9.

The architect, who was co-partner of Venturi Scott Brown and Associates for over 22 years, is not giving up.
 
Twenty-two years after being passed by, Scott Brown, said at the Architects' Journal Women in Architecture Luncheon in London in March that it was time she share in the 1991 Pritzker Prize that was given to Venturi, The New York Times reported April 17.
 
“They owe me not a Pritzker Prize but a Pritzker inclusion ceremony,” said Scott Brown, who is also author of 1977 book "Learning from Las Vegas" among other books. “Let’s salute the notion of joint creativity,” Arch Daily reported March 28.
 
Her remarks prompted two students, Caroline James and Arielle Assouline-Lichten, at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design Women in Design Group, to launch a change.org petition in late March demanding that those in charge of the Pritzker Prize give Scott Brown retroactive recognition for her equal contribution in Venturi’s 1991 prize, which earned him $100,000.
 
"As you may know, the Pritzker Laureate is chosen annually by a panel of independent jurors,”
Martha Thorne, executive director of the Pritzker Prize, said in an email statement to Architect Magazine stating. “Those jurors change over the years, so this matter presents us with an unusual situation. The most that I can say at this point is that I will refer this important matter to the current jury at their next meeting."
 
On April 5, in an interview with Architect Magazine Scott Brown said, “4,000 people have sent a petition and are expressing outrage. That’s a real big reward. That’s real validation—as important, at least, as winning the prize.”
 
As of April 9, five Pritzker winners had signed the petition, Architectural Record reported. Venturi also added his personal signature and comment, “Denise Scott Brown is my inspiring and equal partner.”
 
To date, the petition has over 11,000 supporters.
 
The ceremony for this year’s Pritzker Architecture Prize winner, Toyo Ito, is May 28.
 
On April 28, The University of Pennsylvania held a public conversation hosted by Architects Newspaper's William Menking with Architect Scott Brown about the international buzz surrounding the 1991 Pritzker Architecture Prize that she didn’t get.
 
The Pritzker prize website calls itself the highest honor that a living architect can receive.
 
BIO: Maggie Freleng is an editorial assistant for Women's eNews; she lives in Brooklyn. Follow her on Twitter @dixiy89.
 
 
 

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