2016 AIA Gold Medal awarded to Denise Scott Brown & Robert Venturi
The Board of Directors of the AIA voted to award the 2016 AIA Gold Medal to Denise Scott Brown, Hon. FAIA, and Robert Venturi, FAIA.
For immdiate release
Washington, D.C. - December 3, 2015 - The Board of Directors of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) voted to award the 2016 AIA Gold Medal to Denise Scott Brown, Hon. FAIA, and Robert Venturi, FAIA, whose scholarly writings and built work have inspired a generation of architects. These architects are the first duo to receive the Gold Medal, in accordance with an AIA Bylaws rule change approved at the 2013 AIA convention. With the award, Denise Scott Brown is automatically elevated to become an honorary member of the AIA College of Fellows.
The Gold Medal is the highest honor the AIA can confer on an architect or architects. It acknowledges a significant body of work that has had a lasting influence on the theory and practice of architecture. Scott Brown and Venturi will receive the award at the AIA’s annual convention in Philadelphia in May.
Denise Scott Brown was born in present-day Zambia, and attended the Architectural Association in London before move to the United States. At the University of Pennsylvania, she earned master’s degrees in architecture and urban planning, eventually becoming a teacher there. Robert Venturi was born into a Quaker family in Philadelphia, and received undergraduate and master’s degrees in architecture from Princeton. He worked with AIA Gold Medalists Eero Saarinen and Louis Kahn before winning the 1954 Rome Prize.
In the mid-1960s the Scott Brown and Venturi, a husband and wife, began collaborating on built projects as well as literature that set the stage for Postmodernism and nearly every other formal evolution in architecture. Scott Brown and Venturi’s approach to design involves swapping one set of inherited vernacular traditions for another. Their Franklin Court Independence Historic National Park in Philadelphia is one of the firm’s most successful and multi-layered examples of iconic shape acting as a billboard for architecture. This park and museum dedicated to the city’s most famous adopted son, Benjamin Franklin, sneaks the museum exhibits underground, and preserves the site for a steel sculpture that outlines the Franklin’s original house and print shop.
“This recognition will resonate with generations of architects,” said 2015 AIA President Elizabeth Chu Richter, FAIA. “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."
Early on, Scott Brown and Venturi took their firm to a place many architects don’t tread, namely the suburbs. The duos portfolio offers sensitive and literal historic preservation projects, as well as urban master plans. A few of their most notable works include:
The Best Products Showroom in Langhorne, Pa., a basic, windowless product showroom Venturi and Scott Brown decorated with glazed porcelain on steel plates, arranged to form a warehouse-sized mural of red and white flowers.
The Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery in London, which matches the original 1838 wing’s Neoclassical materials, size, and proportions. The presence of mildly abstracted pilasters, instead of columns, and decorative truss work wink at the older building’s stately presence.
The Provincial Capital Building in Toulouse, France, which uses abstract representations of columns as and graphic elements on the façade that all recall traditional civic architecture in an axial, asymmetrical plan.
Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi have received 17 state and local AIA awards and nine AIA National Awards. Their Vanna Venturi House received the 1989 AIA Twenty-five Year Award, and their firm was honored with the 1985 AIA Firm Award. Scott Brown received the AIA/ACSA’s Topaz Medallion in 1985, and Venturi won the Pritzker Prize in 1991. Scott Brown and Venturi are the recipients of the 72nd AIA Gold Medal. They join the ranks of such visionaries as Thomas Jefferson (1993), Frank Lloyd Wright (1949), Louis Sullivan (1944), Le Corbusier (1961), Louis I. Kahn (1971), I.M. Pei (1979), Thom Mayne (2013), Julia Morgan (2014), and Moshe Safdie (2015). In recognition of their legacy to architecture, their names will be chiseled into the granite Wall of Honor in the lobby of the AIA headquarters in Washington, D.C.
About The American Institute of Architects
Founded in 1857, the American Institute of Architects consistently works to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through nearly 300 state and local chapters, the AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public well-being. Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards. The AIA provides members with tools and resources to assist them in their careers and business as well as engaging civic and government leaders and the public to find solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit www.aia.org.