Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown
“Architecture as Decorated Shelter” 1984 [but the
material is mainly from
Learning from Las Vegas
"Robert Venturi has been described as one of the most original talents in contemporary
architecture. He has also been credited with saving modern architecture from itself.
He has done this by being eloquent verbally with his writings and visually with the forms
of his buildings. Like other Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureates before him [he received
the Pritzker prize in 1991], he is a writer, a teacher, an artist and philosopher, as well as
an architect. In his first book, "Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture," published
in 1966 by the Museum of Modern Art, Venturi posed the question,
"Is not Main Street
almost all right?" He was arguing for what he called "the messy vitality" of the
built environment. As he puts it, "We were calling for an architecture that promotes
richness and ambiguity over unity and clarity, contradiction and redundancy over
harmony and simplicity."
He was challenging Modernism with the multiple solutions
from history—a history defined as relating not only to the specific building
site, but the history of all architecture. He wanted architecture to deal with the
complexities of the city, to become more contextual.
It would be impossible to discuss Robert Venturi's writing without mentioning his
famous response, "Less is a bore,"
to modernist Mies van der Rohe's dictum, "Less
This was Venturi's way "to make the point that modern architecture had
become too simplistic.
Venturi is an architect whose work cannot be categorized; to him, there is never a single
solution. Lest anyone try to pigeon-hole him as a postmodernist,
he declared that he was
practicing modern architecture, and paraphrased his own words earlier about Main
Street, "the modern movement was almost all right." emphasizing his close affinity
to the basic tenets of modernism, while still giving importance to human use,
memories, comfort and entertainment.
Venturi has made it possible to accept the
casual and the improvised in the built environment
Denise Scott Brown [wife of Venturi] is an architect, planner and urban designer, and a
respected theorist, writer and educator, whose work and ideas have influenced architects
and planners worldwide. With Robert Venturi, Ms. Scott Brown participates in the broad
range of Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates’ projects in architecture.