Jane Drew (actually, Iris Estelle Radcliffe Drew, eventually Dame Jane Drew) was born in Croydon, daughter to a designer of surgical implements and later founder of the British Institute of Surgical Technicians, in March 1911 AD. She eventually became equally famous, as a modernist architect and town planner. She studied at the Architectural Association School in London, graduating in 1934; shortly after, she won a competition to design a hospital in Devon. As architecture was an exclusively male-dominated art at the time, this accomplishment was a real feather in her cap. Soon enough she married another architect, James Allison, and joined his firm. But she kept her maiden name, being a “modernist” sort.
Although her marriage collapsed in 1939, she reveled in being mother to her twin daughters. A forthright, assertive, bold, and mischievous feminist (her personality either enthralled or repelled everyone who met her), she made her own way as an architect. She eventually became a member of the Congrés International d’Architecture Moderne, where she met the famous Le Courbusier and less-so Maxwell Fry; the latter she married in 1942, creating a partnership that would revolutionize urban planning and change the facade of a dozen former British colonies.
In Ghana, Nigeria, Iran, Sri Lanka, Singapore, India, and even Scotland, Drew’s modernist designs were striking, functional, and often controversial. But it was the firm’s collaboration with Le Courbusier to design Chandigarh, a new city in the Punjab after Indian independence, which proved most enduringly famous.
After her retirement in 1979, Jane churned out copious published works on architecture, was presented dozens of honorary degrees, and was made a Dame of the British Empire by the Queen in 1996, dying later that year in July.