Pakistan's first female architect, Yasmeen Lari, is the winner of the 2020 Jane Drew Prize celebrating female architectural designers who "through their work and commitment to design excellence, [have] raised the profile of women in architecture." Launched in 1998, the prize is organized by The Architectural Review and The Architects’ Journal.
Born in 1941 in the town of Dera Ghazi Khan, Lari spent much of her childhood in Pakistan before moving to London at 15 years old. She graduated from the Oxford School of Architecture in 1964 at the age of 23, and later returned to her native country with her husband to open their practice, Lari Associates, in Karachi. Throughout her career, Lari worked on projects including the Taj Mahal Hotel in Karachi, the Pakistan State Oil House headquarters, and the Angoori Bagh Housing development.
Since her retirement in 2000, Lari has remained active in the architecture community, serving as an adviser to UNESCO, as the executive director of Heritage Foundation Pakistan, and as the chairperson of the Karavan Initiatives. She is also known for her social justice and advocacy, and as of 2014, had built some 36,000 houses for those affected by Pakistan's floods and earthquakes.
"I am touched and humbled to be included among the galaxy of architects who have received this prize," Lari told The Architectural Review.
Previous winners of the Jane Drew Prize include Denise Scott Brown, Hon. FAIA, Odile Decq, Zaha Hadid, and Elizabeth Diller.