The partners Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi have won the AIA Gold Medal, becoming the first duo ever to receive an award heretofore reserved for individual architects. The prestigious medal is conferred annually by the Board of Directors of the American Institute of Architects, in recognition of “a significant body of work of lasting influence on the theory and practice of architecture.” This year’s jury has decided to honor the career of the American couple, highlighting how they have “changed the way we look at buildings and cities,” and how “anything that is great in architecture today has been influenced in one way or another by their work.”
Denise Scott Brown, born in 1931 in Nkana, Northern Rhodesia (currently Zambia), and her husband, Robert Venturi, born in 1925 in Philadelphia, set up their joint practice in the Pennsylvania city in 1967. The vast collection of projects carried out by this partnership which came to be known as VSBA boasts a very wide range of types, from university edifices to dwellings through hospitals, and monuments. Their body of work includes buildings as extraordinary and celebrated as the United States pavilion at the Universal Exposition of 1992, the Seattle Art Museum, the extension of the National Gallery in London, and the Philadelphia Orchestra Hall. Moreover, their theoretical contribution includes writings as fundamental to architectural theory as Learning from Las Vegas, a book which was first published in 1972 and subsquently translated into eighteen languages.