Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Life of Jane Drew

By Nicholas Mosher

           It is almost the birthday of the architect Jane Drew!  Who is Jane Drew you ask?  Jane Drew is considered to be one of the most overlooked female architects today despite the work that she has done1.  She was born on March 24, 1911 in England where she grew up wanting to become an architect in a male dominated profession.  Early in her working years she designed interior spaces and furniture for mostly housing.  She actually is responsible for the standard height of an over which we still use today.  In the 1950s her work took off when she started designing buildings internationally in the newly independent states of Iran, West Africa, India and the soon to be decolonized Nigeria.  He main building projects were to design housing for low income areas and that is where she stood out2.  The biggest area she worked in was in Chandigarh, India. The project was to modernize the city where thousands of refugees from Pakistan lived3.   At the time there was a universal modernist style that was very popular and a lot of the new buildings that were being built were influenced by it.  Jane decided to use that and to design responsive and vernacular buildings that fit the locations better, which also made the projects more affordable2.  By this time she was becoming better known as well as her husband, who was also an architect that worked with her.  She received a project to design a new capitol for the city of Punjab, India.  She agreed to take part in it but convinced Le Corbusier to take over majority of it because she was already very busy with designing the Festival of Britain3
             In her later years Jane Drew was a very well known English modernist female architect that many people enjoyed her work.  This caused her to become an educator but not just for any schools.  She became the first full time professor at the University of Harvard and at Massachusetts Institute of Technology2.  After her death on July 27, 1996 where she reached the age of 85, an award was created to honor her legacy.  The Jane Drew Prize was first given out a year later.  It is an architecture award given to female architects showing innovation.  The Architect’s Journal created this award and every year they give it out to someone that shows outstanding contributions to the status of women in architecture4.

1.      Rackard, Nicky. (March 8, 2013) "The 10 Most Overlooked Women in Architecture History" ArchDaily. Accessed March 19, 2014.
2.      ICA. “Jane Drew (1911-1996): An Introduction” Accessed March 19, 2014.
3.      Wikipedia. February 9, 2014. “Jane Drew” Accessed March 19, 2014.

4.      Rosenfield, Karissa. January 13, 2014. "Jane Drew Prize Goes to Kathryn Findlay (1953-2014)" ArchDaily. Accessed March 19, 2014.

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