Olympics architect Zaha Hadid is the first winner of the Jane Drew prize for architecture, awarded at the inaugural AJ Women in Architecture Awards. Hadid is now dazzling under the spotlight, having achieved international “starchitect” status after a frustratingly slow start in her career.
The first woman to win the Pritzker prize in 2004 she has also won the past two Stirling prizes. Her bold, immediately recognisable style won her the 2011 Stirling for the Evelyn Grace Academy school in Brixton, while her Olympics Aquatics Centre will soon be in use.
The AJ’s Women Architect of the Year award went to Walters and Cohen, a practice headed by Cindy Walters and Michál Cohen, whose clean, light designs feature many schools. Walters and Cohen, most of whose staff are women too, beat off award-winning big names such as Amanda Levete and Deborah Saunt for the prize.
Meanwhile, the Emerging Architect award goes to Hannah Lawson at John McAslan & Partners, who sits on the board of this big practice just four years after graduating, and is considered ‘one to watch’.
Farshid Moussavi, architect and Harvard professor, said it is time to move away from clichés about men and women in architecture. Hadid, who gave a moving account of her own spectacular rise in a profession that has been notorious — until now — for a glass ceiling for women, said that she was pleased to show women architects that ‘it is doable,’ adding, ‘but women also have to support each other.’