Sheila O’Donnell, co-founder of O’Donnell + Tuomey, has been named Architect of the Year at the 2019 Women in Architecture (WIA) awards, while Liz Diller of Diller Scofidio + Renfro received the 2019 Jane Drew Prize and 43-year-old Xu Tiantian from China has won the Moira Gemmill Prize for Emerging Architecture.
The annual awards by the AJ and The Architectural Review were presented at the annual luncheon on 1st March at The Savoy in London.
Architect of the Year Award
Sheila O’Donnell competed against three other finalists to win the top prize for her practice’s revamp of the Central European University in Budapest, which was also a contender for the RIBA International Prize 2018.
Accepting the award, O’Donnell said: ‘It’s a great honour. We still need the WIA prize. It’s about celebration.
The Women in Architecture Awards jury, which included Pritzker Prize chief Martha Thorne and academic and novelist Lesley Lokko said: ‘O’Donnell’s passion for the buildings of the Central European University was rewarded with an exceptionally high-quality building which she evidently fought hard for.
‘She is a role model for young women in architecture. Sheila O’Donnell did not have to break the glass ceiling – her and John Tuomey created a new reality.’
Also in the running were OMA partner Ellen van Loon for the Qatar National Library in Doha, Eva Prats of Flores & Prats for Casal Balaguer Cultural Centre in Palma de Mallorca, and Carme Pigem of 2017 Pritzker Prize-winning practice RCR Arquitectes for De Krook Library in Ghent.
Jane Drew Prize
The founder of New York based architecture firm, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Liz Diller, was announced the winner of the 2019 Jane Drew Prize. She is the eighth winner of the annual award, which recognises architectural designers who, through their work and commitment to design excellence, has raised the profile of women in architecture.
Diller work ranges from the High Line in New York, to The Broad art museum in Los Angeles, to the largest UK project to date: the £288 million Centre for Music at the London Barbican. She is currently working on the expandable cultural venue The Shed, which is scheduled to open in Spring 2019, which is located next to the practice’s famous High Line walkway.
Diller commented on the London Centre for Music design: ‘I love the Barbican. In many ways, it is what it is and that’s what so strong about it. At the same time, we’re in a moment when society had changed. Having connectivity between urban space and cultural space is really, really important.’
Diller’s cross-genre work landed her a spot on Time magazine’s list of 100 most influential people of 2018, being the only architect to be featured.
Moira Gemmill Prize for Emerging Architecture
The Moira Gemmill Prize for Emerging Architecture, which recognises excellence in design and a bright future for women designers under the age of 45, went to Xu Tiantian, founder of Beijing-based practice DnA.
Xu’s work focuses on the idea of ‘architectural acupuncture’ in the rural Chinese county of Songyang. Projects include a bridge connecting the villages of two villages of Shimen and Shimenyu, a brown-sugar factory, the Hakka Indenture Museum, a tofu factory and the Wang Jing Memorial Hall.
The judges said: ‘There is an effortlessness, maturity and deftness about Xu’s work, which is equally translatable and relevant in rural China as North Yorkshire.
‘Her projects are all deeply contextual and executed with bravery and conviction. She is attempting to work in a sustainable way with an entrepreneurial spirit, and has clearly had a very positive impact on her client.’