Equal Recognition For Equal Work

The advocacy campaign for equal recognition for equal work began in March 2013 with a petition to the Pritzker Architecture Prize asking for recognition of Denise Scott Brown's work in Robert Venturi's 1991 Prize. Launched by Women in Design at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, the Petition responded to a video interview in March by Denise Scott Brown, where she stated, “They owe me not a Pritzker Prize but a Pritzker inclusion ceremony. Let’s salute the notion of joint creativity.”

Within a few days of the Petition launch, 1,500 people signed, including Zaha Hadid, the first woman to receive a Pritzker Prize. Less than a week later, Robert Venturi and Rem Koolhaas were on board. Koolhaas stated, “I totally support this action. The fact that one of the most creative and productive partnerships we have ever seen in architecture was separated rather than celebrated by a prize has been an embarrassing injustice which it would be great to undo.” Under a month since the Petition launch, 10,000 people signed, including nine Pritzker laureates. News outlets including The New York Times, The New Yorker, The New Republic, CNN, Architectural Record, and Architect Magazine have since covered the Campaign, thus reaching a far wider audience than the architecture world.

To date, the Pritzker family has not made any comments. On June 14, 2013 after some three months’ silence, the Pritzker Jury sent a letter from Lord Palumbo on behalf of the 2013 Pritzker Jury, stating, “A later jury cannot re-open, or second guess the work of an earlier jury, and none has ever done so.” While the Pritzker Jury is not yet willing to set the record straight, we are hopeful they will come around and acknowledge Denise Scott Brown, and Lu Wenyu for that matter, who was excluded from receiving recognition with Wang Shu for the work meriting a 2012 Pritzker Prize.

The Campaign has since directly influenced policy changes that will impact the field of architecture for future generations. In a historic motion announced on June 21, 2013, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has changed the rules for the awarding of the Gold Medal, which may now be awarded to two individuals working together.

So here we are today, building the foundations for “Design for Equality,” which is a container for the growing collection of thoughts and ideas on how to harness the full potential of collaboration and joint creativity. The Campaign, while starting as an intuitive “leap of faith”--the campaign organizers did not know Scott Brown personally at the launch of the Petition--has since signified our desire, along with many others, to see an architecture profession that is much more inclusive and diverse.