The Architects' Journal (UK) announced Francine Houben, creative director and founder of Dutch firm Mecanoo, as the recipient of the AJ Woman Architect of the Year 2014. The award honors design excellence and strong leadership among women in architecture.
Houben received the prestigious award in a ceremony at London's Langham Hotel on Feb. 7. Projects of Houben and Mecanoo include the high-profile Library of Birmingham, La Llotja de Lleida, and the Kaap Skil maritime and beachcombers museum.
Upon receiving the award, Houben said, "'I feel privileged to be a woman, to be a mother and to be an architect, which was not always an easy combination. It was also a privilege to design the Library of Birmingham, here in the UK. Libraries play an essential role in the emancipation of young women all over the world. I’m very proud to be able to design more projects with a ‘Dutch touch’ in the UK. I strongly believe that architecture is about teamwork, about being visionary and supportive at the same time. Women are especially good at that.'"
"The Library of Birmingham was completed in 2013 and is one of the highest-profile projects in the UK. It welcomed one million visitors in its first three months. Francine Houben is the only Dutch person to be featured on this years’ list of Britain’s 500 most influential people by Debrett’s and The Sunday Times, who credited her for her unconventional approach to architecture."
Other notable nominations this year were Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara of Grafton Architects; Maria Langarita of Langarita-Navarro Arquitectos; Roisin Heneghan of Heneghan Peng; Kirsten Lees of Grimshaw; Sadie Morgan, dRMM; and Adriana Natcheva of Groves Natcheva Architects.
Previous recipients of the award include Alison Brooks in 2013 and 2012 joint winners Michál Cohen and Cindy Walters.