The AIA Gold Medal Award is the highest honor an architect can receive from the American Institute of Architects. Until now, the award could only be presented to individual architects, but the AIA has just announced that as of January 1, 2014 this prestigious award will be open to an individual or two individuals who have equally collaborated on the design and execution of one distinguished architectural body of work that makes a lasting statement on the theory and practice of architecture.
Robert Venturi won the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1991. His wife and professional collaborator Denise Scott Brown was not recognized, sparking a controversy that has raged ever since. Following a recent round of petitions and editorials calling for a retroactive prize–or some form of recognition—the current Pritzker jury chair, Lord Peter Palumbo, sent a letter on the matter to two current students at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Arielle Assouline-Lichten and Caroline James, organizers of the most prominent of the recent petitions.
Palumbo made it clear that no retroactive prize was possible: “Insofar as you have in mind a retroactive award of the prize to Ms. Scott Brown, the present jury cannot do so. Pritzker juries, over time, are made up of different individuals, each of whom does his or her best to find the most highly qualified candidate.” Palumbo left open the possibility of recognition for Scott Brown. “Let us assure you, however, that Ms. Scott Brown remains eligible for the Pritzker Award. That award is given on the basis of an architect’s total body of built work.” Palumbo further acknowledged the context of the controversy: “We should like to thank you for calling directly to our attention a more general problem, namely that assuring women and fair and equal place in the profession.”
A few years ago Drexel University embarked on an ambitious plan to convert one of Philadelphia’s iconic postmodern landmarks by Venturi Scott Brown Associates (VSBA) into a new home for the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design. Tonight the University will celebrate the official opening of its new building, dubbed the URBN Center, with a series of performances and demonstrations to showcase student work.
Many have lamented the disappearance of so many architecture book stores in recent years, chief among them the much-missed Prarie Avenue Books in Chicago. The Graham Foundation is doing their part to begin to fill that void by selling a selection of books at their stately home, the Madlener house.
Tonight, the Foundation is hosting a holiday party and book store launch, from 5-8pm. The delightful exhibition, Las Vegas Studio: Images from the Archives of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott-Brown, is also on view. Stop by and stock up. The Graham Foundation, 4 West Burton Place, Chicago.