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Liz Diller wins 2019 Jane Drew Prize

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Diller Scofidio + Renfro founder Liz Diller has been crowned the winner of the AR and AJ’s 2019 Jane Drew prize

The New York-based architect is the eighth winner of the annual Women in Architecture (WIA) award, which celebrates those who have ‘raised the profile’ of women in the profession.

AJ editor Emily Booth praised Diller as an ‘international architectural powerhouse’ and a hugely deserving winner of this year’s accolade.

‘From her wide range of work – including the High Line in New York, to The Broad art museum in Los Angeles, to the much-anticipated London Centre for Music – Diller’s brave, refreshing, innovative and often cross-disciplinary approach is an inspiration to the architectural profession,’ said Booth.

Diller said she was ‘very touched’ to have won the prize, adding: ‘It is a great honour to be awarded the Jane Drew Prize 2019, and to join such an amazing group of women that came before.’

Last year, British architect and founder of AL_A Amanda Levete was awarded the gong, while in 2017, it was given to American architect, planner and theorist Denise Scott Brown.

Other previous winners include Odile Decq (2016), Grafton Architects’ founders Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara (2015) and Zaha Hadid (2014).

Current work by Diller Scofidio + Renfro includes the expandable cultural venue The Shed, scheduled to open spring 2019, which is located next to the practice’s famous High Line walkway in New York.

The Jane Drew award announcement coincided with the unveiling of Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s designs for its largest UK project to date: the £288 million Centre for Music at the London Barbican.

The practice’s proposals for the London Wall site include a ‘tapering stack’ of volumes that will turn the ‘inwardly focused’ campus inside out.

It will include two venues: a large 2,000-seat ‘sculptural’ concert hall and an intimate space perched on top, as well as four storeys of commercial space, which will enable the centre to ‘operate without ongoing public subsidy’.

Speaking to the AJ at the press launch, Diller said the venue would address some of the Barbican’s connectivity ‘flaws’ and improve its ‘body language’.

She added: ‘I love the Barbican. In many ways, it is what it is and that’s what so strong about it. At the same time, we’re in a moment when society had changed. Having connectivity between urban space and cultural space is really, really important.’

Last year Diller was the only architect to appear on Time magazine’s list of 100 most influential people of 2018. 

Diller will be speaking at the AJ/AR Women in Architecture Luncheon at The Savoy on Friday 1 March where she will also receive her award.

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