Sir John Soane’s Museum has announced that Denise Scott Brown, the pioneering American architect, planner and theorist, will be the recipient of the 2018 Soane Medal.
The Soane Medal is awarded annually in recognition of architects who have made a major contribution to their field, through their built work, through education, history and theory.
Denise Scott Brown’s award will be celebrated at a special public event on Wednesday 17 October at the Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery, which she designed with Robert Venturi. The event will comprise a lecture, pre-recorded by Denise Scott Brown at her home in Philadelphia and illustrated by her own largely unseen photographs, with a live response by Sir David Chipperfield.
Denise Scott Brown’s ideas and work as architect, planner, urbanist, theorist, writer and educator have had a global influence, transforming thinking about architecture and cities. She was born in what was then Northern Rhodesia in 1931. She attended the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, and the Architectural Association, London, before receiving a master’s degree in architecture and city planning from the University of Pennsylvania, beginning a long association with the university and the city of Philadelphia, where she now lives.
As an academic and educator, Scott Brown has led countless research projects, notably Learning from Las Vegas, which became a seminal book (1972; revised edition 1977, with Robert Venturi and Steven Izenour). Both the ideas and the techniques employed in this and other studies have proved highly influential on the subsequent direction of architectural research. Scott Brown’s other books include The View from the Campidoglio (1984 with Robert Venturi), Architecture as Signs and Systems for a Mannerist Time (2004 with Robert Venturi) and Having Words (2009).
As Principal of Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, Scott Brown has been responsible for numerous urban plans and masterplans, and been instrumental in the design of buildings such as the Département de la Haute-Garonne provincial capitol building in Toulouse, France (1999); the Mielparque resort in Kirifuri National Park, Japan (1997); and the Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery, London (1991), recently awarded Grade 1 listing.
The Soane Medal was established by Sir John Soane’s Museum and continues the mission of the Museum’s founder to encourage a better understanding of the central importance of architecture in people’s lives. Denise Scott Brown was selected for the award by the following jury: Bruce Boucher, Sir David Chipperfield, Paul Goldberger, Owen Hopkins, Farshid Moussavi, Eric Parry, Alice Rawsthorn, and Oliver Wainwright.
The recipient receives a replica of the original gold medal presented to Sir John Soane by the ‘Architects of England’ in 1835. He or she also writes a lecture which is published by Sir John Soane’s Museum. The first recipient of the Soane Medal in 2017 was the Spanish architect, Rafael Moneo.
Bruce Boucher, Director of Sir John Soane’s Museum, said: “Denise Scott Brown has made a unique contribution to the field of architecture through her scholarship, her teaching and her practice. The Soane Medal recognises Denise as someone whose exemplary practice is an inspiration to architects of all generations and backgrounds.”
Sir David Chipperfield, Trustee of Sir John Soane’s Museum, said: “The jury considered many outstanding candidates; however Denise Scott Brown stood apart and was the jury’s unanimous choice. Scott Brown’s contribution across architecture, urbanism, theory and education over the last fifty years has been profound and far-reaching. Her example has been an inspiration to many, and we are delighted to honour her with the awarding of the Soane Medal.”
Soane Medal Lecture
Wednesday 17 October
7-8pm, doors open 6:30.
The Sainsbury Wing
Tickets: £10, £5 for students.