Pritzker’s Women Troubles

Though design rightly remains the highest calling of architecture, the profession attracts increasing numbers of both women and men who see design as a tool to address broader issues, from global warming to grinding poverty.

These agendas depend more on collaboration. Awards that solely honor the singular genius, like the Pritzker and the American Institute of Architects’ Gold Medal, have started to seem out of step.


James S. Russell recalls the infamous snub of Denise Scott Brown for the 1991 Pritzker Award in which her husband and partner Robert Venturi won but she did not. Russell also notes that architecture has changed but the profession's major awards have not.

The Pritzker Award has changed in recent years, with awards going to relatively obscure and modest architects such as Peter Zumthor and Wang Shu. The 2010 award went to Kazuyo Sejima and her partner Ryue Nishizawa. Still, the Pritzker citations rarely, if ever, mention broader social issues. The 2013 winner, Toyo Ito, was cited for combined "structural and technical ingenuity with formal clarity."

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