After closed-door deliberations the Pritzker Prize has decided to reject the petition to grant Denise Scott Brown inclusion on her husband Robert Venturi's 1991 prize.
Scott Brown has worked alongside her husband for thirty years as an equal co-creator of their groundbreaking and influential work as architects and scholars.
The petition, started by two students at Harvard's Graduate School of Design, Caroline James and Arielle Assouline-Lichten, has, at the time of writing, achieved over 17,700 supporters. Many of the signatories are themselves eminent architects including Pritzker prize-winner Rem Koolhaas who stated, "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."
In a statement issued by Peter Palumbo, Pritzker chairman, the present jury felt it could not judge or overstep the decisions made by the jury that granted the prize to Robert Venturi. Pritzker juries change over time with some members serving multiple years and others joining as new members.
In a letter sent to Ms. James and Ms. Assouline-Lichten, Mr. Palumbo asserted that a precedent has been set throughout the award's history and that it cannot be broken. "A later jury cannot re-open, or second guess the work of an earlier jury, and none has ever done so." To read the full text of the letter see the article on ArchDaily.com.
So what happens now? The petition's authors are calling upon all architects to sign it and continue its momentum. Writing on the campaign's Facebook page they state, "We are asking everyone who has signed and believes in this cause to continue to stand defiantly against this injustice and not stand down. We can no longer live with these double standards, not in 1991, not in 2012, and certainly not in 2013!"
On Twitter more drastic measure have been suggested, including the suggestion that those who have been awarded Pritzkers in the past should publicly renounce them. Kazys Varnelis, director of the Network Architecture Lab at Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, wrote on his Twitter feed, "The Pritzker is nothing if we, as a profession, decide so. Lets declare past and present Pritzkers null and void. No 2nd chances."
So, Pritzker holders, who's first? Could this be the beginning of the end for the prize that was once considered the "Nobel" for architecture? Without changing the culture of the prize and how it recognizes architects for their work it could be doomed to obsolescence. As it stands currently, it seems hopelessly mired in traditions that undermine its legitimacy.
As Rem Koolhaas' statement suggests, the decision to deny the prize to Ms. Scott Brown makes the prize an embarrassment. It can only be great if this injustice is corrected.
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