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Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi awarded AIA Gold Medal

Denise Scott Brown
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Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi have become the first architects to be jointly recognised with the top US architectural award

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) changed its rules back in 2013 to allow its Gold Medal to be handed out to two people or teams, as well as individuals.

The move was seen as a response to a petition to the Pritzker Prize organisation to get Scott Brown recognised retrospectively for her contribution to Venturi’s work, for which he solely won the 1991 Pritzker Prize (see AIA opens up Gold Medal to duos).

More than 18,000 people signed the petition. However, Peter Palumbo, chair of the 2013 Pritzker jury, declined to review the 1991 Pritzker decision, saying the current jury could not ‘re-open, or second guess the work of an earlier jury, and none has ever done so.’

The pair were named as the recipients of this year’s AIA Gold Medal – the highest honour in American architecture – yesterday (3 December) in acknowledgment of ‘a significant body of work that has had a lasting influence on the theory and practice of architecture’.

Alongside their architectural theory, including the seminal text Learning from Las Vegas, Scott Brown and Venturi are best known in the UK for the Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery in London.

AIA president Elizabeth Chu Richter, said: ‘This recognition will resonate with generations of architects. What Denise and Bob have done for the profession far exceeds the completion of a great building or two. Through a lifetime of inseparable collaboration, they changed the way we look at buildings and cities. Anything that is great in architecture today has been influenced in one way or another by their work.’

Architects who have won the prize previously include Frank Lloyd Wright (1949), Le Corbusier (1961), Louis I Kahn (1971), IM Pei (1979), Julia Morgan (2014), and Moshe Safdie (2015).

Scott Brown and Venturi will pick up the prize at the AIA’s annual convention in Philadelphia next May.

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