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Jane Drew prize launchedwith wit and affection

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The £10,000 Jane Drew Prize was launched at the ica in the Mall last week with a verve of which she would surely have approved. The architectural award, for men or women, will be made in respect of innovation, diversity (extending traditional categories valued in architecture) and inclusiveness (collaborative work). Award co-ordinator Deborah Saunt emphasised Drew's influence as a catalyst - someone who not only designed with flair, but was responsible for originating projects and seeing them through.

The ica's move to the Mall was itself an example; Drew contacted then mp Robert Maxwell to seek the tycoon's help. He demanded that Drew walk along the Embankment with him until 2am, when the House of Commons rose. He would then arrange an introduction to Denis Healey, then Defence Secretary. This all happened, and Healey scrapped a plan to turn what is now the ica into an aircraft museum for the raf.

Doris Lockhart Saatchi gave a hilarious account of the perils involved in launching any award, and a history lesson on the riba Gold Medal, 150 years old this year. The institute decided to launch the medal in 1846, and determined it should go to the winner of a competition to . . . design a headquarters for the riba. Alas, this produced what The Builder described as a 'melancholy result', and a 'dereliction from honourable professional practice'. Only 11 entries were received, and so embarrassing were they that the institute declined to publish the names of the architects involved. It turned to the Prince Consort for help, and he recommended the formula used to this day.

An affectionate reminiscence of Drew, who worked with Max Fry and Le Corbusier among others, came from engineer Peter Campbell. He had been given work by the firm when a young engineer at Arup; Jane then gave him work after he started in practice on his own account (it became Campbell Reith & Hill). The phone call came unexpectedly: 'Max and I want you here immediately!'

Nominations for the award (which can be made by anybody) should comprise evidence of a body of work and a short biography. They should be sent by 20 March to: riba Awards Administrator, Birmingham & Midlands Institute, Margaret Street, Birmingham B3 3SP. A nomination committee will choose a shortlist of four, from which a winner will be chosen by a panel chaired by Sarah Wigglesworth, comprising Eva Jiricna, James Lingwood, Doris Lockhart Saatchi and Deyan Sudjic. Enquiries to Carolyn Larkin at Communique, tel: 0171 251 9112, fax: 0171 490 5757.

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