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Pritzker Rejects Petition for Denise Scott Brown's Retroactive Award

The Pritzker Prize has finally released their official statement in response to the petition Harvard graduate students Arielle Assouline-Lichten and Caroline James wrote, proposing that Denise Scott Brown retroactively receive recognition for the Pritzker Prize that her husband, Robert Venturi, won in 1991. 

Lord Palumbo, the Chair of The Pritzker Architecture Prize, has responded that this would be impossible due to the way that Pritzker Juries deliberate: "Pritzker juries, over time, are made up of different individuals, each of whom does his or her best to find the most highly qualified candidate. A later jury cannot re-open, or second guess the work of an earlier jury, and none has ever done so."

The letter goes on to suggest that Ms. Scott Brown is, however, still eligible for a Pritzker of her own; it also thanks Assouline-Lichten and James for "calling directly to our attention a more general problem, namely that of assuring women a fair and equal place within the profession. [...] one particular role that the Pritzker Jury must fulfill, in this respect, is that of keeping in mind the fact that certain recommendations or discussions relating to architectural creation are often a reflection of particular times or places, which may reflect cultural biases that underplay a woman’s role in the creative process. Where this occurs, we must, and we do, take such matters into account."

Read the full letter, after the break...

A Letter from the Chair of the 2013 Jury of The Pritzker Architecture Prize on Behalf of the Jury 

  June 14, 2013

Ms. Arielle Assouline-Lichten

Ms. Caroline James

Women in Design

Harvard Graduate School of Design

Cambridge, MA 02138

Dear Arielle Assouline-Lichten and Caroline James,

Thank you for sending your petitions and letters, and those of others, about Ms. Denise Scott Brown and the Pritzker Architecture Prize. Insofar as you have in mind a retroactive award of the prize to Ms. Scott Brown, the present jury cannot do so. Pritzker juries, over time, are made up of different individuals, each of whom does his or her best to find the most highly qualified candidate. A later jury cannot re-open, or second guess the work of an earlier jury, and none has ever done so.

Let us assure you, however, that Ms. Scott Brown remains eligible for the Pritzker Award. That award is given on the basis of an architect’s total body of built work. Ms. Scott Brown has a long and distinguished career of architectural accomplishment. It will be up to present and future juries to determine who among the many architects practicing throughout the world receives future awards. Not every knowledgeable observer always agrees with the jury’s selection. But the jury will continue to do its best to select solely upon the basis of the quality of the architect’s record.

That said, we should like to thank you for calling directly to our attention a more general problem, namely that of assuring women a fair and equal place within the profession. To provide that assurance is, of course, an obligation embraced by every part of the profession, from the schools that might first encourage students to enter the profession to the architectural firms that must facilitate the ability of women to fulfill their potential as architects. We believe that one particular role that the Pritzker Jury must fulfill, in this respect, is that of keeping in mind the fact that certain recommendations or discussions relating to architectural creation are often a reflection of particular times or places, which may reflect cultural biases that underplay a woman’s role in the creative process. Where this occurs, we must, and we do, take such matters into account.

Your communications remind us of this obligation, and we appreciate your sending them. Insofar, however, as they ask us to reopen the decision-making process of a previous jury, we cannot do so.

Yours sincerely,

Lord Peter Palumbo, Chair, On behalf of the Jury of the 2013 Pritzker Architecture Prize

The 2013 Jury of The Pritzker Architecture Prize is Lord Peter Palumbo (Chair), Alejandro Aravena, Stephen Breyer, Yung Ho Chang, Kristin Feireiss, Glenn Murcutt, and Juhani Pallasmaa, Ratan N. Tata. Martha Thorne is Executive Director.

Jury members serve for multiple years to assure a balance between current and new members and are entrusted with selecting the laureate each year. No outside observers or members of the Pritzker family are present during jury deliberations and voting. The international jury members are recognized professionals in their own fields of architecture, business, education, publishing, and culture. 

Cite:Vanessa Quirk. "Pritzker Rejects Petition for Denise Scott Brown's Retroactive Award" 16 Jun 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed . <http://www.archdaily.com/389074/pritzker-rejects-petition-for-denise-scott-brown-s-retroactive-award/>