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Kathryn Findlay named winner of the 2014 Jane Drew Prize

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Judging panel chooses Findlay as winner just hours before news breaks of architect’s death

Kathryn Findlay was named winner of the 2014 Jane Drew Prize today by the AJ Women in Architecture jury, who described her as ‘one of the most original and significant British architects, influential and inspiring in her thinking.’

It was only after the jury had already adjourned for the day that news broke of Findlay’s death.

Awarded to the person who has made the greatest contribution to the status and profile of women in architecture, previous winners of the Jane Drew Prize include Zaha Hadid and Eva Jiřičná.

During the judging, City of London chief planning officer Peter Rees described her as ‘an unsung hero’ in architecture, while Maggie’s Centres chief executive Laura Lee said Findlay should be ‘celebrated as a great teacher, educator and supporter, with a diverse influence that has permeated architectural culture.’

Jury member Jiřičná, last year’s winner of the Jane Drew Prize, said of Findlay: ‘She is one of those talented people who always saw things differently, and had a brilliant idea. She always had a completely different viewpoint, which is why she always won every competition – because her idea was strikingly original. She influenced so many people, even though she was so modest. It is so important that her effort and her contribution is acknowledged.’

The jury had already finished proceedings, and had left for home, when news arrived of Findlay’s passing.

Learning of Findlay’s death, Hadid said: ‘Like myself, in the early days Kathryn struggled as a woman in architecture, but she persevered. I remember her when we were both students at the AA, she was very hard working and enthusiastic. It is shame that she is not here to receive this award personally, but it is lovely that her family get to see her honoured in this way.’

Jiřičná added: ‘I am just so shocked. She was one of the most talented people in British architecture. Personally, it was an immense pleasure to have known her, and I hope her work will be discovered by a new generation. I hope we have assured her place in architectural history with this prize.’

‘It is such a sad day,’ said jury member Victoria Thornton, founding director of Open City, ‘but I am so pleased that her life as an architect and person will be properly acknowledged.’

Rees, Jiřičná, Thornton and Lee were joined on the AJ Women in Architecture Awards panel by Anna Keay, director, Landmark Trust, Doreen Lawrence, founder of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, Moira Gemmill, design director of the V&A, Graham Morrison, partner, Allies & Morrison, Claire Bennie, development director at Peabody Estates, Kathleen Morrison of Lend Lease and Martha Thorne, executive director of the Pritzker Prize.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • I am so sad to read of Kathryn's death. I remember her fondly as such a talented student when I was teaching at the AA in Peter Cook/ Ron Herron's unit in the AA Diploma School. And then she went off, on her own, to Japan, which was so adventurous and brave all those years ago. I have watched her progress and admired her buildings ever since. Kathryn's passing is a great loss to Architecture. It is wonderful that she has been honoured with the Jane Drew Prize for 2014.
    Ingrid Morris AA Dipl RIBA

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