Architecture Lab

Q&A: Denise Scott Brown

The co-founder of Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates (now VSBA) talks about a petition to put her name on the 1991 Pritzer Architecture Prize, about sexism in architecture, and about her career in design.

When Philadelphia architect Robert Venturi, FAIA, received the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1991, the award generated a good deal of grumbling from many in the architectural community for the person who wasn’t named: his wife and architectural partner of roughly three decades, Denise Scott Brown, FAIA. Venturi and Scott Brown met in 1960, married in 1967, and became architectural partners in 1969. They collaborated on buildings and books—including the widely influential (and controversial) urban study, Learning From Las Vegas, published in 1972. The fact that Scott Brown wasn’t also named a Pritzker recipient has been variously described as an “injustice” and a “blunder” by the architectural press. In March, the debate was reignited when Scott Brown was quoted by the Architects’ Journal as saying, “They owe me not a Pritzker Prize but a Pritzker inclusion ceremony.”

Q&A: Denise Scott Brown

Franklin Court, 1976, Independence National Historical Park, Philadelphia. // Courtesy Mark Cohn | Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, Inc.

That statement ignited a flurry of debate—and inspired the Harvard University Graduate School of Design Women in Design Group to launch a petition demanding that the Pritzker Prize committee recognize Scott Brown’s contributions to the field of architecture. As of this writing, the petition contains more than 4,000 signatures, including those of architect Zaha Hadid, Hon. FAIA; Rem Koolhaas, Hon. FAIA; and Museum of Modern Art design curator Paola Antonelli. Plus Venturi himself. (In a short note attached to his signature on the petition, Venturi wrote: “Denise Scott Brown is my inspiring and equal partner.”)

Scott Brown told ARCHITECT that the attention has been “like a tidal wave.” She says that she never imagined that the comments that she gave for the Journal’s women’s architecture luncheon would generate so many headlines. Earlier this week, she took time to talk with ARCHITECT about the Pritzker, her role in the firm she ran with her husband, and the ways she has been treated as a woman architect in a profession that she has described as a “19th-century upper-middle-class men’s club.”

Read the interview here – Source: Architect Magazine

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