The American Institute of Architects announced today the organization is changing the eligibility criteria for the Gold Medal award, its highest honor.

Beginning with the 2014 AIA Honor Awards, the institute will consider architects who work collaboratively as a pair as eligible for the award.

“This is an idea that has been percolating for several years and we feel that the decision to make this important and historic change better reflects the changing nature of architectural practice that has become increasingly more collaborative,” said AIA President, Mickey Jacob, FAIA.

The AIA's decision follows a recent controversy regarding the Pritzker Architecture Prize. The committee that bestows that award—which is considered by many to be the highest in the profession—refused to honor Denise Scott Brown, FAIA, for her contributions to the award that her husband and partner, Robert Venturi, FAIA, received in 1991. A petition launched by two students at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design to grant Scott Brown a special recognition ceremony has garnered more than 18,000 signatures.

Venturi and Scott Brown have applied for the Gold Medal in the past but were never eligible as a duo—until now.

The AIA maintains that the Gold Medal remains distinct from the Architecture Firm Award even under the new dispensation. The new rules allow for the recognition of two architects "only if their collaborative efforts over time are recognized as having created a singular body of distinguished architectural work."

Potentially, the founding principals of the firm that won the 2013 Architecture Firm Award, Tod Williams Billlie Tsien Architects, could be eligible for the Gold Medal award in the future. Thom Mayne, FAIA, won the Gold Medal this year.

“We took a careful, measured approach to the implications that this decision will have on the award itself and we are confident that this is a positive change forward," Jacob said in a release.