Search results for "denise scott brown"

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Her Philly

Maintaining the footprint of female architects in Philadelphia
Architect Elizabeth Hirsh Fleisher designed a dynamic, midcentury modern pavilion in South Philadelphia that’s now under threat of demolition as the city gets ready to renovate the surrounding park. Inga Saffron, the architecture critic of the Philadelphia Inquirer, called out the building’s potential destruction last week in an article about its importance in the city’s cultural preservation landscape. She noted the pavilion’s likeness to the LOVE Park Welcome Center, the beloved “flying saucer” that’s currently under restoration with plans to become a restaurant this spring. Both circular structures were opened in 1960, Saffron noted, along with a wave of round buildings that shaped the country’s design style of that decade. Though the small pavilion doesn’t sit directly in downtown Philadephia (it’s in Columbus Square) and wasn’t the most iconic building in Hirsh Fleisher’s portfolio, it’s still a symbol of her enduring legacy in a place that’s overwhelmingly built by men.  From Anne Tyng to Harriet Pattison, Georgina Pope Yeatman, Denise Scott Brown, and Minerva Parker Nichols, the list of female architects in Philadelphia isn’t very long, but the projects they backed in the city are memorable. At the helm of some of the city’s most impressive 20th-century projects was Hirsh Fleisher, Philadelphia’s first female licensed architect. She was responsible for the Parkway House, a postwar luxury apartment complex that she designed with her partner, Gabriel Roth, in 1953. Situated alongside Century Park near the Rodin Museum, the 14-story megaproject features a distinct mountain shape. It’s been there so long it’s nearly synonymous with that area of downtown Philadelphia. Though the Columbus Square pavilion is minuscule in comparison to Parkway House, Saffron argued the 35-foot-wide park structure could live a second life as a yoga studio or café. The city plans to remove it and expand the adjacent dog park in its place. What’s just as pressing as the little building’s demolition is the fact it could potentially be the second project by Hirsh Fleisher to see the wrecking ball. In 2014, her Queen Lane Apartments, a post-war public housing project, was demolished by the Philadelphia Housing Authority to make way for a series of low-lying affordable housing units. That building started suffering serious structural problems only decades after its completion, but the Columbus Square pavilion is forcefully sound; it’s largely built from stone. In a time where projects by prominent female architects are more appreciated than ever, there’s much attention being paid to those that are being taken down by redevelopment and in some cases, capitalism. Last month, JP Morgan Chase filed for the demolition of its headquarters in New York, the Natalie Griffin de Blois–designed Union Carbide Building. The site, 270 Park Avenue, will feature a replacement structure by Foster + Partners Bringing down Griffin de Blois’s 52-story Manhattan tower—whether you believe it should live on or not—distinctly diminishes the already-small footprint that female architects made on New York during the 1900s. Getting rid of Hirsh Fleisher’s tiny building would do the same in Philadelphia. Luckily, today there is a slew of women-powered practices that are following in her footsteps, such as OLIN, the landscape studio, as well as KSS Architects, a multidisciplinary firm also based out of Princeton, New Jersey. While many Philadelphia firms have significantly more men in leadership positions compared to women, the women are there. Award-winning practice Interface Studio Architects (ISA), along with DIGSAU, EwingCole, and KieranTimberlake have women in top-ranking positions or more women than men on staff.
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Take a Look, Read a Book

Art gallery book fair this weekend
Carriage Trade Gallery at 277 Grand Street, New York, New York, is holding a book fair this weekend that will feature books, ephemera, and zines that will undoubtedly hold gems for those interested in architecture and design. The second-floor gallery just hosted an exhibition of Denise Scott Brown and in the past has featured shows that inhabit the territory between art and architecture. The fair should have a great many books and ephemera by artists on architecture that are insightful and provocative. The participating galleries and booksellers include: Christine Burgin New Directions Common Notions INK CAP PRESS Division Leap Kai Matsumiya Office Space 2 (Sunday only) prompt: Small Editions PDF null The Home School & The Song Cave (Saturday only) Saturday & Sunday, March 2-3, 2019, 1-8 p.m.
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Fully Scully

Daniel V. Scully, son of historian Vincent Scully, has built an auto-inspired compound
The houses architects build for themselves often reveal much about their makers—just think of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin, or Sir John Soane’s 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields. The homes of architectural auteurs are testaments to their philosophies, their religions, their gods. And Daniel V. Scully’s compound in the shadow of Mount Monadnock near Dublin, New Hampshire, is a fascinating, if little known, example of a self-referential project that consumed half of its designer’s life. A slab of Vermont slate—the tombstone of the architectural historian, Vincent Scully—lies in wait on the ground for a sketch of the temple of Juno at Agrigento to be carved into it. Vincent Scully—Dan’s father—glimpsed the Greek ruin from a warship during World War II, a sighting that marked the beginning of his love affair with architecture. Another relic of the classical world on Dan’s compound is his sheet metal interpretation of the Winged Victory of Samothrace. Living and working in the shadow of a famous parent can be intimidating, but Dan Scully gamely embraced the world of architecture. He worked for Louis Kahn during the summers of his college years, and at the Yale School of Architecture, Scully was a member of Charles Moore’s socially responsible Yale Building Project class of 1970. He also joined Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown’s groundbreaking Las Vegas seminar, and, from then on, pop culture—particularly cars—crucially informed his design aesthetic. Scully finally settled in the mill town of Harrisville, New Hampshire, designing homes, schools, and commercial buildings throughout the Monadnock region. Scully is also something of a motor head; automobiles are integral to his vision of America as “a fast and restless place carved out of wilderness.” In 1980, he bought eight acres of land in the neighboring town of Dublin and began to create his own world of “carchitecture.” It should come as no surprise that Scully’s impact on the property was informed by his dynamic, “road runs through it” raison d’être. Today, Scully’s multistructure tableau is recognized as a notable addition to Dublin’s remarkably rich collection of American architecture. Scully’s house in Dublin is a stylistic combination of regional Greek Revival, Shingle Style, and an early 1950s Pontiac. The kitchen, for example, boasts shingles and a Greek entablature, and on the whole resembles the hood of a car, complete with a giant Chieftain emblem hood ornament. The interior walls are sheathed in corrugated metal, while the dining room table is a “roadway” inlaid lengthwise with passing lines, and a gas-pump handle caps off the stairway banister. Scully's house, within hearing range of New Hampshire Route 101, was featured in the 1987 issue of Ripley’s Believe It or Not, where it was labeled “Highway 101-Two-Lane Blacktop.” Scully’s whimsically serious work is more idiosyncratic than frivolous. His temple to the Gods of Speed faces the house down an alley lined by silver gazing balls. The heart of this didactic folly is a solid-fuel dragster, the engine of which has been replaced by a woodstove. As in 18th-century picturesque landscapes, the compound’s buildings are about memory and evoking associative emotions in viewers. This neoclassical trope continues with the garage, where Scully prepares vintage Volvos for races. Giant piston-columns composed of silver-painted, 55-gallon drums flank the main entrance, and license plates serve as frieze decoration between the metopes of the full entablature. The plates are arranged from east to west, beginning with New Hampshire and ending with California, echoing the vector of American expansion. Atop the garage—where in classical Greece, a statue of Athena may have stood as the venerated icon—is a Mobil gas pump. There are a variety of smaller outbuildings and objects that catch the eye: a 1950 Ford pickup originally bought for 50 dollars 50 years ago, a chicken-coop homage to the Quonset hut, a rusted-out truck with a snow plow attachment. A 1957 Cooper Formula 3 racing car hovers over file cabinets in Scully’s latest and perhaps final structure on the compound, the Archives Studio, a 20-by-24-foot shed wrapped in plastic roofing tiles that have been manufactured to resemble slate. Inside the shed, a 1968 Dan Scully painting of a Maserati engine faces Giambattista Nolli’s 1748 map of Rome. A 20-foot-long drafting table sits beneath a strip window that, Aalto-like, frames a view of the lake and neighboring forest. This seemingly humble cube, although reminiscent of Le Corbusier’s Cabanon de Vacances in size and function, is a nod to the Enlightenment—more Jean-Jacques Rousseau than Henry David Thoreau. The primitive hut can surely be thought of as man's earliest temple, but Scully’s Archives Studio also defers to the Yankee aesthetic of utility and thrift. After decades of work echoing the movement of cars and trains, this idyllic shack is just the place for a restless genius to contemplate his contributions to the manmade environment.
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All Fuksas Up

Architects rally behind Doriana Fuksas after prize snub
This month two Italian architecture activist groups disseminated a petition demanding the Istituto Nazionale di Architettura (IN/ARCH) include architect Doriana Fuksas in a lifetime achievement award that was recently bestowed on Massimiliano Fuksas, her partner in work and life. The groups, RebelArchitette and Voices of Women Architects (VOW), posted the petition on December 12. At press time, the petition, a publicly-accessible Google spreadsheet with names verified through Sign Here, had garnered just shy of 500 signatures. Doriana and Massimiliano's names appear at the top, followed closely by the likes of MoMA architecture curator Paola Antonelli, and the architects Toshiko Mori and Denise Scott Brown. Also included are lead organizers Louise Braverman, Caroline James, Arielle Assouline-Lichten, and Francesca Perani. Here's the full text of the letter:
Dear Amedeo Schiattarella, President of the Istituto Nazionale di Architettura Region Lazio, and Andrea Margaritelli, President of the Istituto Nazionale di Architettura, We are writing on behalf of Doriana Fuksas, as we understand that she was overlooked in the selection process of the Premio alla Carriera Architettura. Doriana and Massimiliano are equal partners. We are calling for equal recognition for equal work. We are a diverse group from around the world. We lead our own firms, are directors of schools, are award-winning architects, journalists, and professors. This past May at the Venice Biennale of Architecture, some of us came together as a Flash Mob in the Giardini during the preview days of the Venice Biennale as part of Voices of Women Architects -- VOW Architects. The Flash Mob is a peaceful gathering of individuals asking for a common goal. In this case it’s equal rights and respect for all members of our community. Organizers included Martha Thorne, Louise Braverman, Francesca Perani, Farshid Moussavi, Toshiko Mori, Caroline Bos, Benedetta Tagliabue, Odile Decq, Caroline James and Atxu Amann. We read a manifesto in the Giardini to hundreds of men and women who were there to rally in support towards a change in the Architecture profession. The work continues. Today, with other groups, we are supporting the initiative of RebelArchitette: "Time for 50" - Time for Equality. We are looking at the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030 for gender equality and empowerment of women and girls. When we read last week in the news that Massimiliano Fuksas has received the Premio alla Carriera Architettura, we were stunned that the prize did not include Doriana Fuksas. Doriana and Massimiliano are equal partners. It's important to correct the record now so that young architects can look up to their incredible work and know the whole story -- that the work is strong because of joint creativity and collaboration. We are signing in solidarity to show our support for the tremendous achievements of Doriana and Massimiliano, and ask that you amend the Premio alla Carriera Architettura now to recognize Doriana and Massimiliano, together. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
Doriana and Massimiliano launched Fuksas in 1985. Recently, the duo worked on the New Milan Trade Fair, a convention center, as well as an eyepopping bi-conical theater and exhibition hall in Tbilisi, Georgia. In the age of #MeToo and growing acknowledgment of entrenched sexism in architecture, the petition stands on the shoulders of recent attempts to dismantle structural barriers women in the field face at all levels. Attention to women's recognition in architecture's stratosphere extends back decades: Architectural Record reported that two of the Fuksa petition organizers, James and Assouline-Lichten, led a campaign to get the Pritzker Architecture Prize jury to give Scott Brown an equal share of the 1991 Pritzker awarded to her late husband and professional partner Robert Venturi.
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Thanks for all the Flames

Egads! Here are the top architecture scandals and controversies of 2018
2018 is nearly over, and the world of architecture wasn’t immune from the deluge of drama that swept over politics and pop culture. Take a look back at the wildest stories of the year, and relive some of the outrage as the New Year rolls in. Richard Meier accused of sexual assault After a stunning New York Times expose in March where multiple women detailed four decades of harassment at the hands of Richard Meier, the architect announced that he would be taking a six-month leave of absence from Richard Meier & Partners Architects. The backlash was swift, and the AIANY announced that they would be stripping the 2018 Design Awards from Meier as well as Peter Marino, who was facing his own set of sexual harassment allegations. After Meier’s leave of absence ended in October, he announced that he would “step back from day-to-day activities” at the firm he founded in 1963. However, how involved Meier remains with the firm is still a matter of debate, as the studio announced that he “will remain available to colleagues and clients who seek his vast experience and counsel.” #MeToo rocks the architecture world After the revelations about Richard Meier went public, a debate over harassment and discrimination in the design world blew up. A Shitty Architecture Men list went live and detailed anonymous complaints about some of the biggest names on the architecture scene—before Google pulled the plug on the list over legal concerns. Still, the conversation around the gendered power dynamics typically present in architecture’s educational and professional track boiled over, and the AIA contiuned to address the topics at the AIA Conference on Architecture 2018. Asbestos makes a comeback In AN’s most outrage-inducing story of 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that asbestos was back on the menu for use in products on a case-by-case basis. The agency issued a SNUR (Significant New Use Rule) that meant the impacts of asbestos on the air and water no longer needed to be considered in its risk assessment (asbestos is a friable material and easily crumbles into carcinogenic fibers when broken). After a significant uproar online, including from Chelsea Clinton, the AIA called for a blanket ban on the material’s use. Kanye’s summer of meltdowns Kanye West had an interesting summer. After returning to Twitter with a vengeance, ostensibly to promote his new album, West hung out with conservative commentators, took a trip to SCI-Arc’s Spring Show, declared that he would be launching an architecture studio called “Yeezy Home,” and revealed a collaboration with interior designer Axel Vervoordt. AN’s readers weren’t exactly thrilled at the news, but West did manage to at least release renderings of the studio’s first affordable housing prototypes. Unfortunately, West later deleted all of his past tweets and the fate of Yeezy Home, and the social housing project, is currently unknown. The sunset of 270 Park When it was announced that Chase wanted to tear down and replace the 52-story former Union Carbide headquarters, questions abounded about when, why, and how. The 57-year-old tower was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), but much of the credit goes to SOM partner Natalie Griffin de Blois, and the news prompted a debate about her legacy in what was then a predominantly male field. Debate erupted online over whether the tower should be demolished and replaced with a Foster + Partners-designed alternative, and AN’s senior editor, Matt Shaw, penned an op-ed asking that New York not stymie progress for buildings that weren’t worth it. The trials and tribulations of the AT&T Building The saga of Philip Johnson and John Burgee’s postmodern Midtown skyscraper took yet another turn this year. In January, the lobby of the AT&T Building (or 550 Madison) was stealthily demolished. Then, in July, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted to landmark the building’s exterior, a definitive blow to the Snøhetta-designed renovation that would have glassed over the 110-foot-tall arch at the granite tower’s base. Unfortunately, owing to the work done earlier in the year, the lobby was no longer eligible for the same such protection. Then, ahead of the next round of LPC hearings, Snøhetta went back to the drawing board and released a much more sensitive scheme for restoring the tower that kept the arch, and the building’s imposing columns, intact. The AIA speaks out against rolling back license requirements Readers had an intense reaction to the AIA’s first Where We Stand statement of 2018. As the institute came out against an increasing trend of states rolling back license requirements for architects, readers were split. Would decreasing the barrier to entry increase competition, as the states claimed? Do architects really need to study for years and spend thousands of dollars in test materials to claim their certification? On the other hand, we expect doctors, lawyers, and practitioners in other highly-specialized fields to require licensing, so why should architecture be any different? Patrik Schumacher takes Zaha Hadid’s fellow trustees to court Patrik Schumacher drew scorn from the public after taking to London’s High Court in a bid to strip the other three executors of Dame Zaha Hadid's will from her $90 million estate. Zaha’s niece, Rana Hadid, artist and friend Brian Clarke, and developer and current Pritzker Prize jury chairman Lord Peter Palumbo, released a joint statement decrying the move. Before Hadid’s death, she had chosen the four to disperse her estate through the Zaha Hadid Foundation, and the non-Schumacher executors claimed that Schumacher's suit was for his personal financial gain. Schumacher responded, lamenting that his former friends and colleagues should have spoken with him first before going public with their grievances. Amazon takes Queens After a year of speculating, Amazon declared that it would be splitting up its HQ2 into two separate headquarters, dropping one in Long Island City, Queens, and the other in Crystal City, a suburb of Arlington, Virginia. The backlash against dropping a sprawling campus for 25,000 employees in New York’s already-overburdened waterfront neighborhood was swift, as city politicians and local residents criticized the $3 billion in subsidies the tech giant would receive, as well as the impact on the neighborhood. Foster + Partners’ London Tulip pierces the skyline The not-so-innocuously phallic Tulip tower in Central London made waves across the internet when it was revealed in November. Commentators and critics alike decried the 1,000-foot-tall observation tower, which balances a glass observation atrium atop a hollow concrete stem and would spring up next to the Gherkin. The icing on the cake is that the rotating pods on the outside of the glass bulb could be disruptive to the London City Airport’s radar system, meaning construction may have to wait until a full study is completed. Venturi Scott Brown-designed house suffers secret demolition When the purple-and-green, sunrise-evoking house designed by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown in Shadyside, Pittsburgh, went on sale in June, it was hoped that a preservationist would save the building. The two-bed, two-and-a-half bath Abrams House was built in 1979 and was in great condition, but it soon came to light that the new owner only purchased the home so that he could tear it down. The buyer, Bill Snyder, also owns the Richard Meier-designed Giovannitti House next door and began a secret interior demolition which he claimed was necessary to preserve the landscape around the Meier building. After the news came to light, preservationists and colleagues of Venturi and Scott Brown rallied for the house’s protection.
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Burn It Down, Build It Up

Alexander Tzonis and Liane Lefaivre track the seismic shifts in post-war architecture
The convulsive years that followed World War II saw extraordinary changes in architecture and design. Yet for all of its exhilarating creativity, this era was also one of unprecedented devastation. Approaches to architectural theory and practice that emerged in the aftermath of the war have ranged wildly, from the corporate imperialism of Cold War–era modernism to the grassroots communitarianism of the 1960s and ’70s, passing through postmodern pastiche populism on the way to today’s cosmopolitan globalism. In their ambitious new book, Times of Creative Destruction: Shaping Buildings and Cities in the Late 20th Century, the authors, historians Alexander Tzonis and Liane Lefaivre, chart the sometimes-erratic development of these seismic shifts while reassessing their own writing and thinking over the past five decades. Tzonis and Lefaivre have written and taught, together and independently, all around the world. They have studied and collaborated with an unexpectedly wide array of architects, designers, and personalities, from Lewis Mumford, Louis Kahn, and Aldo van Eyck to 2012 Pritzker Prize winners Wang Shu and Lu Wenyu. Their many books include The Shape of Community, which Tzonis wrote with Serge Chermayeff in 1971, and Tzonis and Lefaivre’s Architecture in Europe since 1968: Memory and Invention. Yet their greatest influence may have come via their more than 400 essays and lectures, the best of which have been translated and collected here for the first time.  In addition to more than two dozen essays, many reproduced as facsimiles of the original magazine and journal articles, Tzonis and Lefaivre have included contextual introductions that reappraise, with a light touch and easy good humor, the intentions and ideas behind their writings while offering revealing insights into more than 50 years of debates, battles, and false dawns. Perhaps the most important contribution the authors have made to contemporary architectural discourse has been to grapple with the preservation and protection of local and regional cultural identities in the face of an increasingly mobile and conformist global economy.  In 1981 they coauthored an essay, “The Grid and the Pathway,” included herein, in which they identified critical regionalism as an approach to design and planning that promotes “...the ecological, social and intellectual singularity and diversity of regions.” Later interpretations took this revived regionalism into unappealingly nationalist, chauvinist, and often racist directions, which Kenneth Frampton has described as “simpleminded attempts to revive the hypothetical forms of a lost vernacular.” But in Tzonis and Lefaivre’s conception, the critical regionalist approach served as a valuable bridge, helping architects and designers to recover the social and political ideals of progressive modernism from the alienation and despair that characterized 1980s postmodernism. Another crucial contribution came in the first essay that Tzonis and Lefaivre wrote together, “The Populist Movement in Architecture.” Written in the early 1970s and first published in the German magazine Bauwelt, this essay targeted the elitist hierarchy of architectural education and professional practice while also offering an appreciation of the common, nondesigned landscape of billboards and neon signs, as documented by Reyner Banham and another coauthoring couple, Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown. Lefaivre later revisited the topic for her 1990 essay “Dirty Realism,” published in the popular British magazine Granta, in which she vividly describes late 1980s buildings and projects by the likes of Rem Koolhaas, Nigel Coates, Jean Nouvel, Bernard Tschumi, and Zaha Hadid. A 1978 essay, “The Narcissistic Phase in Architecture,” anticipates the phenomenon of “starchitecture,” combining architectural history and psychoanalysis to encourage designers to resist retreating into “a make-believe world where the architect still reigns supreme,” and instead to work to master “the complex unfolding in time of the real relations between built form and social formation.” Deeply humanist in outlook, Tzonis and Lefaivre frequently delve into art and literature to support their unabashedly utopian worldview. In the jointly written 1992 essay “Planning and Tomatoes,” originally published in the Italian journal Casabella, they channel the words and spirit of Allen Ginsberg’s mid-1950s poem, “A Supermarket in California,” to bemoan the rise of consumerism and the loss of community at a time when property developers seemed “to have assumed the initiation and control of the construction of cities and urban projects.” Yet despite all evidence to the contrary, Times of Creative Destruction is full of optimism and enthusiasm. As the authors write in the introduction to this thought-provoking and inspiring collection, “History and criticism can help find ways to arrest the blind process of  creative self-destruction carried out by architects, developers, and clients, by bringing some critical planning into our future times.” Times of Creative Destruction: Shaping Buildings and Cities in the Late 20th Century By Alexander Tzonis and Liane Lefaivre Routledge $46.46
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Pre-Postmodern

Denise Scott Brown’s photos bring their “messy vitality” to New York City
Denise Scott Brown photographs taken from 1956 to 1966 will be on view at Carriage Trade Gallery in New York City starting Thursday, October 25. The images in the exhibit, Scott Brown says, are “about architecture,” but if they are viewed also as art it’s a byproduct. They reflect her interest in “automobiles, cities of the American Southwest, social change, multiculturalism, action, everyday architecture, 'messy vitality,' iconography, and Pop Art," all themes throughout her career. “Waywardness,” Scott Brown claims in the small catalog on sale at the gallery, “lay in more than my eye.” Carriage Trade is located in a dense, image-packed Chinatown block on Grand Street, a fitting site for this exhibition of "touristy" color photographs of Venice and Las Vegas. The photographs are on sale at the gallery for a very reasonable price. Ask to speak with Peter Scott, the director of Carriage Trade. The show is co-organized with PLANE-SITE and Andrés Ramirez. There will be a formal opening Thursday, October 25, 6–8 p.m. Carriage Trade Gallery 277 Grand Street, Second floor October 25–December 22, 2018
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MCASD Keeps Going

Selldorf Architects breaks ground on controversial San Diego museum expansion
After a summer filled with dueling op-eds, petitions, and general outcry from members of the international architectural community, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) and New York City–based Selldorf Architects have officially broken ground on a controversial $95 million expansion to the museum’s campus in La Jolla, California. The Times of San Diego reports that the groundbreaking occurred Thursday of last week and quotes Selldorf Architects founder Annabelle Selldorf as saying: “This is a special place in the world. But the collection of the museum inspires equal awe. Giving home to this beautiful collection is an incredibly vital thing to do.” The project aims to more than double the size of the museum by adding 37,000 square feet of new spaces to the complex, which was last expanded by Venturi Scott Brown Associates (VSBA) in 1996. The designers aim to achieve this task by adding a new ocean-facing wing along the southern end of the complex, reorienting the museum’s entry and adding a slew of much-needed gallery spaces in the process. The project also aims to renovate the existing 35,000-square-foot original complex, which was initially designed by famed California architect Irving Gill and was expanded several times during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s by local architects Mosher Drew. The reorientation of the museum’s entrance has been seen as controversial by many in the international architecture community, including Denise Scott Brown who has spoken out against the addition. Scott Brown contends that the entry VSBA designed was derived from the “careful study and understanding of La Jolla’s urban form” in a widely-circulated petition, and that as a result, the plan deserves to be preserved. In several phone calls with The Architect’s Newspaper, Scott Brown has explained that she does not see Selldorf’s addition and the preservation of the VSBA elements as mutually exclusive, however, and hopes that a way can be found to retain the logic of the existing entrance while fulfilling the needs of the growing museum. The existing entry arrangement is a chief design contribution from Scott Brown—who aside from being an architect is also a celebrated urban planner—and it is considered an integral aspect of the VSBA addition and its guiding postmodern ideals. The elements that are being retained by the Selldrorf team relate more directly to the bombastic, iconographic forms VSBA is best known for and include the museum’s so-called Axline Court, a starburst-shaped atrium topped by neon-lit archways. According to Selldorf, her team is dedicated to celebrating the many lives of the museum and has worked hard to retain key elements of the VSBA design. Regarding the entrance, Selldorf told AN this summer, “Our task was to add an entrance that people could find,” while adding, “Not everybody thought we should be so determined to keep [the VSBA-designed] portions, but we are doing a lot of work to have those elements retain a significant presence in reinvigorated building.” The proposed renovations have exposed a critical and long-running schism in preservation thinking over not only which types of heritage are worth preserving, but perhaps as significantly, over the scope and scale of what is considered fundamental to postmodernism and postmodern design in architecture. The question here, as with many preservation-related projects, is whether surface-level decoration—neon lights, flamboyant archways, and textured materials—convey the essence of a work enough to allow for fundamental changes in use and organization or whether true preservation requires more. The question has gained greater urgency in the weeks following the death of Robert Venturi and amid a growing climate of uncertainty for not only VSBA’s works, but for elements of postmodern heritage in general. According to Scott Brown’s interpretation, the project’s plan—inspired by the double-coded logic of medieval European town squares and urban economic theory—is as important to MCASD’s status as a postmodern work as the building’s more visually-aggressive elements, highlighting the fundamental disagreement at hand. Either way, Scott Brown’s petition and the global outcry have not been enough to cause thinking on the project to shift significantly. Site work has been underway at the complex over the last few months as crews worked to remove a monumental pergola associated with the VSBA addition. Last week’s official groundbreaking indicates the project is moving forward at full-steam. Despite the demolition of the colonnade, the La Jolla Historical Society was able to salvage one of the two pergola structures and has since installed the fiberglass and steel assembly in a nearby garden that is free to the public and open for visitors. Selldorf Architects’ additions are scheduled to be completed in 2021.
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“Bob ain’t here to make another one“

Frank Gehry remembers Robert Venturi and VSBA’s work
Last week, architect Frank Gehry spoke to The Architect’s Newspaper regarding the recent passing of postmodern hero Robert Venturi at age 93. Venturi passed away on September 18 and in the days and weeks following, architects, scholars, and critics from around the world have offered poignant remembrances of Venturi and of his work with partner Denise Scott Brown and their joint firm, Venturi Scott Brown Associates (VSBA). The pair is largely responsible for ushering in the postmodern architecture movement during the 1960s, a ground-shifting development that rocked established architectural discourse through convention-challenging buildings and radical publications alike. The developments helped to open a new realm of architectural expression, an opportunity generations of later architects—Gehry included—have exploited in order to explore new horizons in architectural and urban design. Over the telephone, Gehry explained that though he and Venturi feuded publicly from time to time, he felt much admiration for the late architect. Gehry said, “Bob Venturi is one of my heroes in life,” adding, “as is Denise.” With recent high-profile demolitions in mind, Gehry voiced support for preserving VSBA’s work, explaining that “maybe it’s a time to reflect on the issue (of preservation) that Denise has brought up,” a reference to Scott Brown’s recent efforts to bring awareness to the increasingly imperiled nature of some of the firm’s lesser known works, like the firm’s Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego expansion. Gehry explained that while “it’s hard to lose Bob [Venturi], what he [and Denise] gave us are insights created over a lifetime” that will live on in VSBA’s remaining built work. Specifically, Gehry offered praise for VSBA’s Sainsbury Wing at the National Gallery in London. The groundbreaking work—a 120,000-square-foot expansion of the historic gallery that was built in 1991—was recently listed in England’s National Heritage List as a structure with Grade I significance. Regarding the project, Gehry said:
“Their project in London—Sainsbury—I go there and I marvel at it. I’m not a Classicist or an Originalist, I’m not into that, but those columns in the back, at an angle, a slight angle, it does something to your perception. Yeah, I have Venturi love in me.”
Gehry went on to postulate that when it came to the preservation of postmodern-era structures, architects and clients are both often at a loss, especially when budget-driven clients are setting priorities. While acknowledging that “culture changes, people are different,” Gehry admitted that “I don’t know that we understand [postmodern architecture], really, or how to deal with it.” With a note of finality, Gehry added, “Bob ain’t here to make another one, though.”
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In Memoriam

Critic and historian Martin Filler remembers Robert Venturi
During my four decades as an architecture critic, I developed close personal relationships with several of my subjects, including Charles Moore and Frank Gehry, although, unsurprisingly, our dealings became far less amicable when my enthusiasm for their work waned. My longest direct connection to those I’ve written about has been with Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown. But that intimate bond had both its rewards and perils, as I recalled after his death on September 18 at the age of ninety-three. Criticism of architecture is complicated in ways that differ significantly from other mediums. Authoritative evaluations require that you get inside the works in question to make a responsible judgment, especially in the case of private houses or other properties not open to the public. One must also have technical information in order to provide an accurate account of a building’s physical characteristics. An art critic may easily determine the dimensions and components of a painting by seeing it on a gallery wall, a theater or music critic by purchasing a ticket for a performance, or a book reviewer by obtaining a copy of the publication. But an architecture journalist had best be on speaking terms with his subjects, a lesson I repeatedly learned the hard way with Venturi and Scott Brown. Early in my career I wrote a puerile review of their Penn State Faculty Club (1974-1977) in State College, Pennsylvania. Today that article makes me cringe. In an attempt to shock, I called their charming homage to Shingle Style domesticity “a whorehouse without a second floor” because its upper-story fenestration was purely ornamental. Their jest was no crime, but I was trying to establish street cred as a tough critic. My crude epithet outraged the architects, of course, and I was in the doghouse for years afterward. Fortunately, Bob and Denise, as I came to know them, were very fond of Rosemarie Haag Bletter, the architectural historian who had been among the first academicians to include their work in college-level modern architecture courses in the 1960s. She would also become my future wife. After we married, I tried to make amends with the two architects, whose susceptibility to feeling wounded was exacerbated by their having lost numerous architectural competitions they deserved to win. To my relief, I eventually received a handwritten letter from Venturi in which he announced, with courtly formality, that because Rosemarie had accepted me in matrimony, they forgave my youthful indiscretion. However, the dangerous flip-side of being shunned by one’s critical subjects is becoming too close to them, and I admit that I gradually did cross the line into friendship with Bob and Denise. They were prominently featured in Michael Blackwood’s 1983 documentary film Beyond Utopia: Changing Attitudes in American Architecture, which Rosemarie and I wrote and for which we conducted the interviews. When we were guest curators for the Whitney Museum of American Art’s 1985 exhibition High Styles: Twentieth Century American Design, we recommended that they be hired to create the show’s installation; they were, and their work—a witty Pop mounting that reflected their love of the decorative arts—was widely admired. It was no surprise that around that time they were also designing equally delightful furniture for Knoll, china for Swid Powell, flatware for Reed and Barton, rugs for V’Soske, and even a cuckoo clock for Alessi. Still, there were risks. In 1991, having heard from the National Gallery’s board chairman, Jacob Rothschild, that Venturi and Scott Brown’s problem-plagued Sainsbury Wing was nearing completion, I gained access to the closed construction site on Trafalgar Square by posing as a member of the architects’ firm—hardhat, clipboard, and all. Exhilarated by the nearly finished project, I urged the magazine I worked for to run pre-completion photos of the new building in order to land a scoop. Breaking the press embargo caused an initial Venturi eruption—he concealed a volatile Italian temper beneath his buttoned-down Philadelphia preppiness. But after an interval I was absolved once more and the Sainsbury Wing is now justly considered their masterpiece. Thereafter, considering their advanced age and towering historical stature, I decided to write about them only when I had something positive to say. And I was delighted when I could praise without reservation a late-career gem, their Dumbarton Oaks Library of 2001-2005 in Washington, D.C., a veritable concerto in patterned brick, alive with architectural syncopation and functional logic. It would be my last review of their work to appear during his lifetime. He retired from practice in 2012, as Alzheimer’s disease sapped his formidable creative and intellectual powers, a loss all the more poignant because he was the most learned architect I’ve ever known. Bob’s funeral was held six days after his death, on a cool, overcast afternoon when some seventy family members, colleagues, friends, and caregivers gathered in Newtown Square, on the outskirts of Philadelphia, at the Willistown Friends Meeting, an eighteenth-century Quaker meetinghouse of exquisite rigor and simplicity. The tranquil, timeless setting—a rural scene of rolling hills and low fieldstone walls—seemed like an Andrew Wyeth painting come to life (the artist lived at Chadds Ford, fifteen miles to the southwest). It was hard to believe that one was still in the violent and hate-saturated America of 2018. Venturi’s parents, both from Italian Catholic families, converted first to Unitarian Universalism and then to Quakerism. Their only child took their faith’s precepts of nonviolence and pacifism seriously enough to become a conscientious objector during World War II and defined himself as “a proper Quaker” until the end of his life. The officiant at his ecumenical funeral was not, however, a Quaker elder, but rather Father John McNamee, a retired Roman Catholic priest with early ties to the Catholic Worker Movement and who was honored for his social activism in inner-city Philadelphia. He had also been responsible for overseeing the Venturi firm’s 1968 reconfiguration of St. Francis de Sales Church in Philadelphia, which was spurred by new liturgical practices advanced through the Second Vatican Council. As Father McNamee pointed out during the funeral service, Venturi’s respect for ordinary Americans’ values and aspirations remained paramount. The priest began by reading the Beatitudes, the very kernel of the Christian message, albeit one ignored by many present-day American Evangelicals, and then quoted Father Daniel Berrigan, the 1960’s Jesuit antiwar crusader. The ceremony featured two of Quakerism’s hallmarks: ten minutes of silence, followed by spontaneous contributions from congregants who spoke as the spirit moved them. The emotional highlight of the gathering came in a sequence of personal reminiscences by four home health-care aides who cared for Venturi during his final years. The crucial role that such unheralded heroes of everyday life play in our society has never been more immediately expressed nor as touchingly clear to me. And although each spoke separately, their shared sentiments resounded as if they were harmonizing soloists in a gospel choir. One of them, Pat Thompson, was too overcome to speak directly, so her heartfelt tribute was read by a colleague, Wanda Whittington. In their moving and funny anecdotes, Verna Wood and Carolyn Heller likewise told of growing to love their sometimes difficult but inevitably appreciative client. Several of them said that they had no idea at the outset of their service that Venturi was a world-renowned architect, and that although they came to appreciate his exceptional stature, it was the man, not the artist, they would miss most. This was the all-pervasive feeling in the room. After the eulogies, the mourners filed out to the cemetery, shaded by mature trees and dotted with low headstones of nearly identical design. After the squared-off, unfinished wood coffin was lowered into the grave, Venturi and Scott Brown’s only child, the urban planner and documentary filmmaker James Venturi, laid a homemade wreath of laurel leaves next to the grave; the victor’s laurels with a down-to-earth ethos.
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Writing History

Architecture critics Inga Saffron and Robert Campbell receive the 2018 Vincent Scully Prize
Inga Saffron of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Robert Campbell of the Boston Globe are the recipients of the 2018 Vincent Scully Prize. Awarded annually by the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., the prize honors design professionals who have shown excellence in practice, scholarship, or criticism in the field. This year’s winners—both Pulitzer Prize–winning journalists—are admired for their commitment to providing insightful critiques of the built environment. The Vincent Scully Prize was established in 1999 and first awarded to Yale University professor Vincent Scully, who died last December. Past recipients include Jane Jacobs, His Royal Highness Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, the late Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, Paul Goldberger, Robert A.M. Stern, and more. Landscape architect Laurie Olin was given last year’s prize. The National Building Museum will hold a public award ceremony for Campbell and Saffron on Monday, October 29 with a conversation moderated by The Chicago Tribune’s Blair Kamin.
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1925–2018

Barry Bergdoll, Robert Miller, Jennifer Bonner, and more remember the late Robert Venturi
Robert Venturi passed away at age 93 on Wednesday, and there has been an overwhelming response from the architecture community. From dedicated disciples to former intellectual foes, many architects and critics have taken a moment to recognize how deep and impactful Venturi’s legacy really is. We collected some of those tributes here. Adam Yarinsky: Complexity and Contradiction was truly revelatory for me, as I read it at a moment in my early undergraduate education which coincided with beginning to learn about architectural history and also how to ‘read’ architectural drawings. I never saw it as a prescriptive handbook about making postmodernist forms but rather, in the examples of his work included in the back of the book, as a means of acknowledging architectural practice as critically engaging history (and more generally culture) through design. The idea of thinking about design as part of a constellation of relationships is the progeny of the understanding kindled through his work. Winka Dubbeldam: Venturi’s Complexity and Contradiction from now over 50 years ago, was and is a groundbreaking architectural publication. For me it was the book that started my interest in philosophy and critical thinking (theory) in architecture. Venturi was such an important thinker and architect and his work and books influenced so many people in their careers. I personally was very lucky to have met Bob and Denise early on, when I was a young faculty member at Penn and was asked by the then Dean Gary Hack to present my student’s work to the Board of Overseers. I was excited and nervous to note that Bob and Denise both were on the Board, but they were excited to see the work, and we had a great conversation after the presentation. Our thoughts and warm wishes are with Denise.
Barry Bergdoll One of the first books I bought as a freshman in the 1970s was Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture, a proud use of my brand-new MoMA student membership (my first copy has its members $2.96 tag). Venturi opened my eyes to seeing architecture, and to seeing modernist architecture. Far from a manifesto for an as-yet-to-be-named postmodernism, it was a love letter to architecture and a primer in ecumenical appreciation of things as seemingly distant as Lutyens and the vernacular.  My copy must be like so many others—a palimpsest of underlinings and marginalia. Dialogue with Venturi continues to this day, his thoughts as fresh as they are of their moment of origin. Catherine Ingraham: I typically write notes when I know I will reread a book. But I have no notes for Robert Venturi who, in concert with Denise Scott Brown, wrote Complexity and Contradiction and Learning from Las Vegas, even though I refer to these books on numerous occasions. Why? Because these texts, coupled with the architectural experimentation they inspired, are still on the main list, still live material embedded in the brains of those of us—young and old—who ran parallel with that epoch. This work made seminal contributions to the difficult category of American architecture and it will continue to contribute to the long, complex, game of the discipline and practice. Robert L. Miller: In time, I believe, the built work and projects of Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, and VSBA will claim an even higher place than the justly praised writings and theories. There may be no better way to honor Venturi’s memory in these next few days than to look again at one of these projects—ideally a built work, on site and in context, and with some of his incomparable drawings for it. This is an architecture that is at last comfortable with real modern American culture, not 1920s or 1950s modern but an unembarrassed, information-rich modern architecture of now.
 
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Rest in Peace, Robert Venturi🕊

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Jimenez Lai: Robert Venturi’s life and work, together with Denise Scott Brown, inspired us to treat architecture as a platform upon which one can learn “everything." The inclusive mindset Venturi lived by offered us the opportunity to view architecture as an embodiment of human communications that demands all of us to look harder and learn something from every aspect of the everyday around us. Venturi’s disposition towards “everything” as intellectual fodder opened the doors to us to reevaluate the aesthetic framework of the “ugly” or the “ordinary”—whilst enjoying a sense of a humor about it all. We are indebted to Robert Venturi for our continuing desire to keenly observe the world around us, and the sense of lightheartedness from which we tell our stories. Thank you, Mr. Venturi, for shepherding in the qualities of the messy, complex, awkward, and clumsy, so that we can embrace the perfections and imperfections of everything around us. Most importantly, thank you for leading the way to show us that architecture may or may not look like architecture, and architecture communicates on the behalf to the humans inside and outside the architecture. Jennifer Bonner: "I like elements which are hybrid rather than 'pure,' compromising rather than 'clean’, distorted rather than 'straightforward,' ambiguous rather than 'articulated'.... I am for messy vitality over obvious unity." – Robert Venturi (Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture) Robert Venturi gave us the intellectual, the ordinary, and humor in architecture. An undeniable force that has moved several generations, Venturi and Scott Brown showed us a different way of reading architecture. His “non-straightforward” architecture is infectious and especially so for a 17 year old from Alabama who lived in Las Vegas the summer before entering college. My first book to read on the subject of architecture was Learning From Las Vegas. Thank you.
Craig Konyk: Surely an important watershed moment. Ideas carry forward long after we articulate them. He and Denise will forever share the immortality of ideas. Adam Nathaniel Furman: It is almost incomprehensible to lose Robert Venturi, so important and central was his spirit for those practicing in my generation. A thinker, teacher, architect, and writer who played a vital role in massively expanding the notion of what academic architecture was, and could be, and how architectural history and our contemporary environment could be looked at with eager and appreciative eyes, and vivid, intellectually curious minds. May his legacy keep flowering in a thousand different receptive places… Joan Ockman: Robert Venturi’s contribution to the architectural culture of the last third of the twentieth century was original and profound. Equally a thinker and a maker, his early books Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (1966) and Learning from Las Vegas (1972, with Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour) were instrumental in articulating the set of ideas that would soon be coined as postmodernism. Projects like the Vanna Venturi House and Guild House translated his theories into built form. While other architects recognized the failures of late modernism by the 1960s, Venturi was among the first to produce a body of work that launched architecture in a genuinely new direction.