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Jane Drew (1911-1996)

Jane Drew

Copyright: RIBA British Architectural Library Photographs Collection (1987)

Daughter of the founder of the British Institute of Surgical Technicians, Drew studied at the Architecture Association in London prior to the Second World War, and set up practice with a fellow student and her then husband, James Alliston.


Drew became involved in the international Modern Movement and became one of the founders of the Modern Movement in Britain, represented by Modern Architectural Research Group (MARS), the Congrès International d’Architecture Moderne’s British subsidiary. Drew’s architecture practice at the time only employed female architects; difficult in a male-dominated environment. One of Drew’s early schemes was the Walton Yacht Works at Walton-on-Thames, Surrey built in 1940. Through MARS, Drew met Henry Moore, Le Corbusier and Maxwell Fry – who was to become her second husband in 1942 (her first marriage having been dissolved).


After 1945, Drew went into partnership with Fry in London, and worked abroad with Fry to design buildings such as the Mampong Teacher’s Training College in Ghana (1948), Adisadel College in Cape Coast, Ghana (1950), as well as work in the UK, such as the Chantry and Tanys Dell estates in Harlow New Town (1949) and the Riverside restaurant for the Festival of Britain (1951). In 1951, Drew collaborated with Le Corbusier and Max Fry as senior architects for the housing in Chandigarh, the new capital of the divided Punjab in India, and then went on to work in Ibadan, Nigeria (1953-59).


Later work included the Lionel Wendt Art Memorial Centre in Colombo, Sri Lanka (1960), the Headquarters of Shell in Singapore (1964), the Institute of Education in Mauritius (1977), and the Science Block at St Paul’s Girls’ School, London (1979).


As well as accepting various honours (such as an Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1978, and a DBE in 1996), Drew was also active at the RIBA, serving as a member for RIBA Council in both 1964-70 and 1971-74.


Drew was unsuccessfully nominated five times for the Royal Gold Medal.