Architect Denise Scott Brown has been denied a retroactive Pritzker Prize, according to the Pritzker Prize jury’s official response to an online petition started by a group of Harvard students. The petition called for Denise Scott Brown to be belatedly honored with a 1991 prize that was awarded to her husband and partner Robert Venturi, but ignored Scott Brown’s accomplishments. Ultimately signed by more than 17,000 people and nine Pritzker laureates, including Zaha Hadid and Rem Koolhaas, the petition failed to sway the Pritzker Architecture Prize committee.
Brown has a been co-partner for over 22 years with her husband Robert Venturi in Venturi Scott Brown and Associates and played a critical role in shaping the architectural theory and design of her time. She also co-authored the seminal book Learning from Las Vegas and is still active in the field. Scott Brown was left off the 1991 Pritzker Prize which went to Robert Venturi. She boycotted the ceremony and years later, Venturi himself refused to accept the AIA Gold Medal as a gesture of solidarity for his wife who was once again ignored by the jury.
“It was an unfortunate oversight by the Pritzker Architecture Prize committee to deny her of the recognition she undoubtedly had earned,” stated the petition set up by Women in Architecture-a student group at Harvard Graduate School of Design. The petition has been signed by more than 17,000 people and a string of high-profile architects including Rem Koolhaas, Zaha Hadid, Frshid Moussavi and Robert Venturi himself.
Chair of the Pritzker Architecture Prize Lord Palumbo responded in a letter stating that Scott Brown was not disqualified but could not be retroactively awarded because “a later jury cannot re-open, or second guess the work of an earlier jury, and none has ever done so.”