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Pritzker chief: 'I hope this petition will be the rallying call that will force a shift'

Pritzker Prize executive director Martha Thorne has told the AJ that she hopes the ‘energy and passion’ of the Scott Brown petition can be used to effect real change for women in architecture

Thorne said that although the jury would not be extending the prize to Scott Brown (AJ 16.06.2013) she hoped the petition, although focussed around on Denise Scott Brown, would be ‘the rallying call that will force a shift, not only in architecture, but across sectors.’

‘In history there is often an event or one person that causes a shift,’ said Thorne. ‘To receive nearly 17,000 signatures is an incredible result.’

Thorne said: ‘I hope the energy and passion in this petition can be used to effect real change in education, the profession, construction companies and collaborators. If it can start the ball rolling, then I think the petition will have been a success.’

Thorne also wanted to assure those that signed the petition that their voices had been heard, and that the petition had already changed the way the prize is run. 

‘The proof is in the pudding, but we have already made small changes already, such as altering the wording on our website to read that the prize is for ‘a living architect/s’, showing that it can be given to more than one person.’

There’ll certainly be a more intensive search particularly in the field of women

Thorne also said that this year she will be broadening her approach in the search for nominations for the prize. ‘This year there will certainly be a more intensive search, particularly in the field of women, recognising that we must seek out diversity and recognise collaboration.’

Thorne said while the jury felt they could not rewrite history by re-opening a past decision, the jury was keen to lay the foundations for a new future for the prize.

‘There isn’t a do-over, and when decisions are made, they are always in context. In hindsight, we may have made other decisions.’

‘I believe we are in a different time, and the issue of the rightful place of women in the profession must be addressed, from early education right up through to the firms that hire women.’

Thorne, who also sits on the jury of the AJ Women in Architecture Awards, said she phoned Scott Brown directly to notify her of the jury’s decision, as well as the authors of the petition, and that she urged Scott Brown to take a leadership role in ushering in a new era for women.

‘The only way we move forward is to find common ground,’ said Thorne. ‘So now begins the search for common ground.’

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