in the wake of the pritzker prize committee's decision to not act on 'awarding' (technically, the request was to 'jointly recognize') denise scott brown a retroactive medal, another - and perhaps more interesting - opportunity quietly opened up to properly recognize collaborative efforts: at the aia national convention this past year, the aia gold medal criteria was modified. it is, as of january 1, 2014, now open "so that not only an individual but also two individuals working together will be eligible to receive the award." coincidence? yeah...
(there are, entwined in the flurry of activity surrounding ms. brown's request this past spring, a couple of separate (but not always inter-related) questions: how we recognize collaborative efforts and how we recognize the contributions of women within the profession. in this case, they have certainly collided. my goal today is to focus on the mechanisms of the award process itself).
the case for ms. brown at the pritzker level is done. she will not gain the recognition desired precisely because the leadership of the award has been sufficiently embarrassed. for the time, that means 'recognition' is equivalent to 'give in' and, as such, is tantamount to losing internal control over the entire award. it won't happen. (and calls to have prior winners "renounce" their awards seem childish at best). witness what happened at the masters golf tournament when martha burk stormed the gates - nothing. for 10 years. why? not because inertia wasn't already building towards admitting women - it was - but because the leadership there wasn't going to be 'bullied' (their word) into a decision by someone outside their organization. it took time and a change of leadership to implement the changes (and whether we all want to admit it or not, the paradox here is that, in both cases, if the efforts at reform were more internally driven by members of the organization and not seemingly aimed at generating "negative" publicity, change would likely have happened more quickly. i'm just the messenger on this count, not an endorser.)
so what can be done to capitalize on the momentum generated over the past few months? easy. ditch the pritzker and go for the aia gold medal. the timing is perfect - mr. venturi has been nominated in the past and publicly refused to accept the gold medal unless ms. brown was jointly recognized. and, really, this one's almost a no-brainer.
how can you and i help make the gold medal a reality? here's my suggestion on how to channel all the positive energy out there: first, understand how the aia award nomination works - it involves a lengthy package, which has to be prepared in conjunction with the nominee themselves (just to get the background material): it will almost certainly come from the aia philadelphia chapter (although anyone on the board of directors can nominate individuals). and, given that the deadline is july 12th, that package almost certainly being wrapped up as we speak. so, what can you do?
if you know any of the 2014 jurors (listed below), reach out to them and voice your support, especially if you're an aia member ("demanding" recognition is going to be a little counterproductive here - just be respectful and it'll go a lot farther). if another petition was generated to truly offer a voice of support, it would carry weight. and, really, the mayor of philadelphia's on the jury? you can almost start inscribing it now...
ms. brown will, in the end, very likely receive the recognition she richly deserves. it won't be in the venue she chose initially, but it may ultimately carry a greater weight: she could very well be not only the first woman to receive the aia's gold medal, but also the first to receive it jointly.
who needs that pritzker recognition again?
aia 2014 gold medal jurors:
Elizabeth Chu Richter, FAIA (Chair)
Steven Alspaugh, AIA
Peter Bohlin, FAIA
Bolin Cywinski Jackson
Kristine K. Fallon, FAIA
Linna Jane Frederick, FAIA
Frederick + Frederick Architects
Beaufort, South Carolina
Raymond F. Kogan, AIA
Kogan & Company
Tom Kundig, FAIA
Olson Kundig Architects
Hon. Michael A. Nutter
Office of the Mayor
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