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Tuesday22 August 2017

Scott Brown deserves her Pritzker

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Committee failed to acknowledge the nature of architectural collaboration

Ellis Woodman

Ellis Woodman- Executive Editor

Attracting over 3,100 signatories in less than a week, the petition demanding recognition for Denise Scott Brown’s involvement in the work that won Robert Venturi the 1991 Pritzker Prize is a commanding show of public support.

This egregious oversight has been attributed to sexism but its larger failure is one of blindness to the collaborative nature of architecture. Patrik Schumacher’s claim to be recognised for the work that won Zaha Hadid the 2004 prize is as strong as Scott Brown’s.

The solution surely is to celebrate practices — something the Pritzker committee has begun to acknowledge in recent awards to Herzog & de Meuron and Sanaa. So here’s to the success of the petition in securing Denise Scott Brown her much-deserved prize.

Is it too much to hope this will also be the year when the RIBA puts right its failure to award Venturi Scott Brown the Gold Medal? Their place in the history books is assured. As we have seen this week, awards committees only serve to discredit themselves by failing to acknowledge that standing.

 

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Readers' comments (2)

  • In my view Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi should consider themselves fortunate to be associated with the Pritzker Prize. DSB should stop this undignified and vain self-promotion, take the matter up with RV and let evryone get on with things that matter.

    Maybe DSB could add her name to the certificate in biro or scratch her initials onto the medallion?

    Alternatively there is still time for RV to hand back the award and the $100,000 prize and those who have signed the petition could always nominate DSB for next year's prize.

    In his 1991 acceptance speech RV trots out a long list of influences and refers to himself over 70 times but acknowledges DSB on just 4 occasions. He acknowledged that without DSB his work would be diminished but did not say, however, that without her the prize would not have been awarded or that he owes it all to her.

    DSB might like to ask RV why he did not refuse to accept the award unless it was in their joint names? She might also consider why in his acceptance speech RV spoke at such length about himself and why he failed to make it crystal clear that he was accepting the award on behalf of them both as equals?

    I can only conclude that RV, like the Pritzker judges, did not view DSB as a true equal.

    The "pomo-ic duo" are post-relevant but if history is to be re-written, in view of their ghastly legacy (just take a look at their website) I suggest the Pritzker jury reconsider the 1991 prize, strip RV of the award and give it to a more worthy recipient such as Sir Colin Stansfield Smith.

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  • SomeoneStoleMyNick

    Venturi only created a reputation for himself by writing one book that denigrated his teacher, Paul Rudolph - a much more important architect. As for the Venturis' own work - it just got worse and worse until it became pure kitsch. Take a look at their "American quilts" for God's sake. They don't deserve the Pritzker Prize or any other sort of prize. They only deserve to be forgotten (which they quickly will be) Their hideous extension to the National Gallery in London, which is simply a rehash of their Seattle Art Museum, makes it deeply unpleasant when one wants to go and look at some particular Renaissance painting, such as the St. Jerome by Antonello da Messina.

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