quick, what century is it? you sure about that? in the same week that marriage equality was a hot topic of conversation, a story bubbled up in the philadelphia inquirer about a different kind of marriage equality. the topic: denise scott brown.
don’t know who she is? i didn’t either until this article appeared. she’s an architect who, along with her husband and business partner, designed projects together, wrote several “paradigm-shifting books” together and taught classes together. but when it came time to be honored for their work with the most coveted prize in architecture, a pritzker award, it went only to robert venturi, the man of the partnership. venturi accepted the honor but, to venturi’s credit, when only he was offered an award from the american institute of architects (aia), he turned it down because it didn’t include his partner.
okay, so that happened in 1991, surely things have changed since then. not so fast. this year the pritzker was awarded to wang shu, without mention of his partner and collaborator, lu wenyu. lu wenyu happens to be wang shu’s wife. this is 22 years after denise scott brown got ignored.
it’s interesting this use of the word “partner” here. these couples really embraced the meaning of partnership in every respect and yet the world around them saw only a narrow view of that partnership for only the women involved. consider how that could not happen today with same sex couples if only because same sex marriage is not recognized. but if it were, ponder whether the idea of partnership would be different. maybe it would be different only for females in same sex partnerships? why are there some things that still stubbornly refuse to be changed?
so sure, there have probably been countless women who entered the architecture field because of brown and half of all architecture students are female, and i’m sure she’s pleased and proud of being inspirational. but, like every other professional, she wants to be recognized for her professional achievements and continues to be “very sad” about this slight.
surely now that we are 13 year into the 21st century it’s time to be finished with the 19th.
you have chance to weigh in on this by signing the petition titled, “the pritzker architecture prize committee: recognize denise scott brown for her work in robert venturi’s 1991 prize”.