Denise Scott Brown, Hon. AIA, has won this year’s Jane Drew Prize, an honor—organized by both Architects Journal and The Architectural Review—which recognizes women who promote innovation, diversity, and inclusiveness in the field. The American architect by way of Northern Rhodesia is a partner of Philadelphia practice Venturi, Scott Brown & Associates with her husband and fellow architect Robert Venturi, FAIA, and is widely regarded as a leader in the Postmodernism movement.
According to The Architectural Review, the prize is “a culmination of the grassroots drive to see her contribution to the professional adequately recognized—a movement that sprung from the Women in Architecture campaign in 2013,” which aimed to raise the status and profile of women in architecture, and garnered international recognition. During a talk for the program, Scott Brown gained attention for speaking out against the sexist treatment she received when the jury for the Pritzker Prize snubbed her contributions and solely honored her husband in 1991. Not long after, a petition to have her name added to the award and amend the decision was started, but ultimately rejected by the Pritzker. The petition garnered about 20,000 signatures.
Days after rejecting the petition, the AIA board voted to amend its requirements for the Gold Medal, making it so two practicing architects could win it. This gave way to the 2016 outcome when the husband and wife duo became the first couple to jointly win a AIA Gold Medal award.
The Jane Drew Prize honors the English modernist and urbanist Jane Drew. She is regarded as one of the founders of the Modern Movement in Britain, and set up her own all-female practice prior to World War II. She went on to design schools and public housing in West Africa with her husband and and former classmate Maxwell Fry. The awards program was launched in 1998 in collaboration with RIBA’s Women Architects Group and the Arts Council of England. Past recipients include French architect Odile Decq and the late Zaha Hadid.