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Taking Stock: Pritzker Prize Petition and Beyond

2013 has marked a momentous year for equality in architecture. Your support of the campaign for equal recognition of Denise Scott Brown by the Pritzker Prize has built a wave of discussion, dissent and diversification in design and related fields.

Thank you for all of your help, support, thoughts, posts, articles, comments and the endless belief, against all odds, that we deserve and can create change in Architecture!

Beginning March 27th 2013, Women In Design launched the Petition that quickly went viral and made it to the front page of the New York Times Arts section. It now has 19,397 signatures for DSB, including the signatures of nine Pritzker Prize Laureates. On June 14th, Lord Palumbo, Chair of the Pritzker Prize Jury, sent a letter refusing to revisit the exclusion of Denise Scott Brown from the 1991 Robert Venturi award, as no jury “has ever done so." On July 11th we replied, standing firm in our conviction of equal recognition for equal work. The Pritzker Jury decision not to revisit the case is a choice: it’s a choice against progress and equality.

Although the Pritzker Prize Committee remains stagnant and closed, we are working to look, reflect, capture, and distill the issues that have arisen. In October 2013, Denise Scott Brown made an epic visit to Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, delivering the lecture, “Mayhew’s Architecture” to an overflowing crowd. The next day, Women in Design hosted a no-holds-barred Discussion in two parts with professors, theorists, and practitioners about the nature of recognition, collaboration, and joint creativity in Architecture. The dialogue continues online with the launch of Why the Pritzker Prize Still Matters by Women in Design member Rebecca Esau, who lays it bare and provides a platform for the continuation of an important discussion about our profession beyond the Pritzker.

As we sweep into 2014, we would like to take stock of the victories that are the direct result of our collective advocacy:

  • After receiving letters of protest from Bkult.de, a website to foster discussion on building culture, the Saxon Academy of the Arts amended their decision to award the Gottfried Semper Architekturpreis to Matthias Sauerbruch by including his equal partner of over twenty-four years, Louisa Hutton. Victory!

  • Julia Morgan became the first female among the ranks of AIA Gold Awardees by posthumously winning the 2014 award, after 106 years of men, men, men.  The prolific California architect designed over 700 buildings, and was nominated by Julia Donoho and Jeanne Gang, with Denise Scott Brown writing a letter of recommendation. Though she can’t be here to enjoy the recognition, it is a coup for posterity who will forever know her legacy.

As we close the year and head towards a brighter and more diverse future, we want to encourage bold moves for equality in 2014 and beyond. Stand strong for the values of tomorrow. Together we can realize change and build a better world for all.


Women in Design + Design for Equality


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