Posts tagged with "Denise Scott Brown":

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Happy Birthday, Denise Scott Brown!

Although she was born in South Africa, Denise Scott Brown has become one of the United State’s most influential architects, a leader in postmodernism, co-author of Learning from Las Vegas (1972), a staunch advocate for women’s rights, and the mastermind behind projects such as the Sainsbury Wing of London’s National Gallery, the Seattle Art Museum, the Allen Memorial Art Museum, the capitol in Toulouse, and Franklin Court in Philadelphia. Today, in honor of Scott Brown’s 85th birthday, we rounded up just a few of her many notable moments over the years. On her years at the University of Pennsylvania… “Robert and I entered planning school hoping to study early modern planning ideas, like Arturo Soria y Mata’s linear city. We thought it was an interesting solution to urban-rural disconnection in mass cities. Trains, we suggested, should travel at 100 miles an hour. When teachers observed that would be too fast for transit stops, we replied, ‘That doesn’t matter!’ We were early modern machine romantics.” On winning the Jane Drew prize… “There is an irony in it because I knew Jane Drew. I hold very different opinions from the ones she held,” said Scott Brown, speaking to Laura Mark in the Architects’ Journal (AJ). “When we met over the years sometimes it was up and down,” Scott Brown added. “I gave a lecture once and I said something about Walter Gropius and there was a lot of shouting from the back of the room and it was Jane Drew. She was quite a down right woman and I’m a down right woman. She might mind that I have been given the prize—but I don’t. I’m very happy that people want me to have a prize and that she should have a prize named after her.” On winning the AIA Gold Medal… “It was worth being a witch.” On postmodernism… “So we do postmodernism, Philip Johnson does pomo. It doesn't have all that thought behind it and it doesn't even have the thought about aesthetics that we've done behind it. I call pomo 'limp,' and think what we do is lasting and part of modernism's long-past departure.” On party etiquette… Former dean Robert A.M. Stern recounted a 1969 party in which “I had to peel Denise Scott Brown away from fighting with Paul Rudolph in my apartment over the subject of the way Denise and Bob Venturi had treated Rudolph’s Crawford Manor.” Scott Brown and Venturi had “savaged” the building in Learning From Las Vegas. Stern describes architect Ulrich Franzen telling him: "Bob, you better go into the library, Denise is about to kill Paul Rudolph." On being a woman in architecture… “There’s a million ways to be a woman. There’s a million ways to be a mother. And there’s a million ways to be an architect."
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Denise Scott Brown wins Jane Drew Prize, Rachel Whiteread given Ada Louise Huxtable Prize

Denise Scott Brown has been awarded the Jane Drew Prize by the Architects' Journal (AJ) and its sister publication, the Architectural Review (AR). In 1991, Scott Brown was not included in the awarding of the Pritzker Prize that went to her husband, Rober Venturi, despite her integral role in the couple's firm, Venturi Scott Brown and Associates. More recently, in 2013, the Pritzker awarding committee was pressured to reexamine their decision twelve years prior and acknowledge Scott Brown. Alas, they did not budge. "There is an irony in it because I knew Jane Drew. I hold very different opinions from the ones she held," said Scott Brown speaking to Laura Mark in the Architects' Journal (AJ). "When we met over the years sometimes it was up and down," Scott Brown added. "I gave a lecture once and I said something about Walter Gropius and there was a lot of shouting from the back of the room and it was Jane Drew. She was quite a down right woman and I’m a down right woman. She might mind that I have been given the prize—but I don’t. I’m very happy that people want me to have a prize and that she should have a prize named after her." Scott Brown received this year's Jane Drew award for her contributions to architecture which include built works and research, notably the book Learning from Las Vegas, which was published in 1972 and co-authored by Venturi and Steven Izenour. Scott Brown and Venturi are also recognized as pioneers of the Postmodernist movement. In the wake the Pritzker jury refusing to change their position in 2013, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) amended a rule that stipulated only individuals could claim its Gold Medal prize. Scott Brown and Venturi were then jointly awarded the AIA Gold Medal last year. The AJ and AR awarded the Ada Louise Huxtable Prize to artist Rachel Whiteread. The award recognizes individuals working in the wider architectural industry who have made a significant contribution to architecture and the built environment. Whiteread is noted for winning the 1993 Turner Prize, her work with architects (such as Caruso St John Architects for the UK Holocaust Memorial International Design Competition), and her participation on the RIBA Stirling Prize 2016 jury. However, while such awards are good news for women in the industry, a recent survey has found that there is still much work to be done. Aside from awarding the Jane Drew Prize, the AJ and AR, as part of its annual Women in Architecture survey, found that female architects working in the U.K. earn $68,900 less than their male equivalents. The pay gap has reportedly widened by $52,700 over the past two years. The survey results also outlined that pressure to not have children and sexual discrimination were still prevalent. The AR also announced its Women in Architecture Awards 2017 shortlists, which includes the Architect of the Year Award and the Moira Gemmill Prize for Emerging Architecture.
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Robert A.M. Stern recounts a heated confrontation between Denise Scott Brown and Paul Rudolph

In an interview with Yale School of Architecture’s Paprika! magazine, former dean Robert A.M. Stern recounts a 1969 party in which “I had to peel Denise Scott Brown away from fighting with Paul Rudolph in my apartment over the subject of the way Denise and Bob Venturi had treated Rudolph’s Crawford Manor.” Scott Brown and Venturi had “savaged” the building in Learning From Las Vegas. Stern describes architect Ulrich Franzen telling him: “Bob you better go into the library, Denise is about to kill Paul Rudolph.”

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No more weird architecture in Philadelphia: a retroactive manifesto for the AIA National Convention

The main exhibit hall at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia is as long as three city blocks. This is a universal space, unencumbered by columns, and enriched by connection points and affordances that offer access to electricity, light, water, ventilation. This space could hold and sustain almost anything. Today, as part of the AIA National Convention, it is filled with the elements of building, decontextualized and layered on top of one another in delirious profusion of texture and meaning. Here, a mockup of an elevator booth, across the aisle, a maze constructed entirely of doors. Signs over the booths invite us to do things like “Re-Think Wood,” and “Build our Community.” They remind us that “Glass is Everything.” A company making door knobs and handles announces that it is “The Global Leader in Door Opening Solutions.”

The breathless valorization of the normal is infectious. Things and people here seem on the verge of tipping over into some kind of technological singularity of the everyday. Even ordinary conversations occur with an extra layer of mediation. Each interaction with the staff at a booth is punctuated with an unusual question, "do you mind if I scan your badge?" Attendees are all wearing custom lanyards with QR codes, which booth staff photograph using smartphone apps, quantifying and upgrading any simple question about building components into an elevated transactional informational layer. This halo around the space, people, and things is also visible on the official convention app, where continuous backchannel discussions and jokes flow in real time, pulling attendees from the gridded space of the convention hall back into its virtual counterpart.

Two architects are haunting this universal space: Denise Scott Brown and Rem Koolhaas. The exhibit hall’s collection of elements can’t help but bring to mind the Venice Biennale exhibition that Koolhaas curated in 2014. His Elements of Architecture show included a suspended acoustic tile ceiling installed under an ornate frescoed dome, and a collection toilets from throughout history, with detailed annotations.

Similarly, the signs at the convention’s exhibits recall the gallery work and research of Scott Brown and her husband/partner Robert Venturi. For the 1976 show Signs of Life: Symbols in the American City, at the Smithsonian, the pair gave voices to the ordinary pieces of the domestic landscape. “Historical Elegance” says the ironwork on a rowhouse front door, “Regency Style” announces a suburban living room armchair. In her 1972 book, Learning From Las Vegas, Scott Brown, Venturi, and a third collaborator, Steven Izenour, drew a warehouse shed building with a large billboard optimistically declaring “I am a Monument.”

And there the drawing is, on a t-shirt available in the gift shop off the main hall. And here is Scott Brown herself, onstage with AIA President Russell Davidson and Executive Director Robert Ivy. They are awarding the AIA Gold Medal to her and Venturi. This is the first time that this award has gone to collaborative partnership, they announce, and they have voted to change the medal’s rules, just to make this possible. This is extraordinary, and long overdue, but it is also extraordinarily normal. Architects have been working together in partnerships for centuries. To adapt Scott Brown's own language, this moment, that has the audience of thousands on their feet and overcome with emotion, is Heroic and Original, but it's also Ordinary, and the failure, up until now, of the AIA to recognize and valorize this normal everyday mode is certainly a bit Ugly.

Architecture, like Main Street, is almost alright. After Scott Brown, we hear from Koolhaas, onstage with Mohsen Mostavi, the Dean of Harvard's GSD. Reminiscing about Learning From Las Vegas, Koolhaas said "I remember very clearly when I first saw a copy of that book. It was extraordinary, I bought it right away." Koolhaas has just finished signing hundreds of copies of his own 1978 book Delirious New York, A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan for sale in the bookstore alongside the "I am a Monument" shirts.

That book had chronicled the assimilation of the disruptive effect that several new technologies had on architecture in Manhattan: the steel frame, the elevator, the electric light, and the air conditioner. This re-normalization had taken place in the universal space of the 1811 street grid, allowing for the accommodation of difference in a way not unlike the neutral space of the convention center's exhibit hall holds the diverse booths. Although the two interlocutors never mention the city we are all in, the title of Mostavi and Koolhaas' talk is "Delirious Philadelphia." Billed by Ivy as "a real kick in the pants," the talk turns out to be quite an ordinary, low key conversation.

Koolhaas' own grand experiment with the nonstandard, Beijing's CCTV Building, for China's state controlled media, was another topic touched on by Mostavi and Koolhaas. It was completed in 2012, and in 2014, Chinese President Xi Jinping used it as an example to call for the end of what he called "weird architecture" in China. An official directive in 2016 followed up on this allusion, saying that buildings which are "oversized, xenocentric, weird," will no longer be permitted. "I share the opinion of my own most powerful critic," Koolhaas says, onstage in Philadelphia, "I am also perhaps skeptical of weird architecture."

Architecture is entering a period in which the destabilizing effects of robotics, digital communication, and computation are being brought to ground. New internet protocols coming online in the next few years will automate many aspects of the home, and there will soon be enough new IP addresses available to give every armchair and billboard its own identity and ability to communicate, fulfilling Scott Brown's vision of assertive home furnishings and self aware monumentally generic buildings. We will all have our badges to scan, and our conversations with each other, our spaces, and our things will be captured and recuperated constantly. As in Koolhaas's Manhattan, and in the conventionally universal convention space in Philadelphia, weirdness and xenocentrism will be deprecated and absorbed. In the future, everything will be normal.

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Denise Scott Brown on AIA Gold: “It was worth being a witch”

Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi finally got the recognition for their collaborative efforts over the last half-century in the same way they conceived some of the 20th century's seminal architectural works and texts: together. The duo wrote the 1972 treatise Learning from Las Vegas, and designed a series of beloved projects, including Franklin Court Independence Historic National Park in Philadelphia, the National Sainsbury Wing in London, and the National Collegiate Football Hall of Fame (Competition). Venturi won the Pritzker Prize in 1991 but Scott Brown was not included. The AIA Gold Medal makes up some lost ground for the pair, and the profession, as equal credit is given for collaboration. A group of Harvard students calling themselves "Women in Design" petitioned the Pritzker committee to recognize Scott Brown alongside Venturi. While the Pritzker didn't budge, the AIA did recognize this effort, as the Philadelphia AIA convention featured its own "Women in Design Dinner." At the AIA Gold Medal ceremony, a screen played a video of the duo in their home accepting the award. Scott Brown appeared on the stage, and said, with a bit of that V-SB wit, "It was worth being a witch" for. She said she is excited to be breaking ground for other pairs of collaborators, of which she said there are 20 or so that could win this award in the future.
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Denise Scott Brown on the unknown history of architecture and planning at the University of Pennsylvania

As architects descend for the 2016 AIA National Convention, the City of Brotherly Love will be in the spotlight. Philadelphia was just named a World Heritage City, the first in the United States. Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi will be awarded the AIA Gold Medal during the convention and a new mayor is fighting to preserve the city’s landmarks, which include the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Philadelphia City Hall, and a host of modern and postmodern relics—not to mention the urban fabric that composes the neighborhoods. For this occasion, editor-in-chief William Menking and senior editor Matt Shaw sat down with Scott Brown at her and Venturi’s home in suburban Philadelphia. (Also, our "reader" of past articles can help you get up to speed on Philly, the AIA, and this year's speakers.)

The Architect’s Newspaper: Can you talk about what brought you to Philadelphia to study and teach?

Denise Scott Brown: Peter and Alison Smithson, our gurus at the London Architectural Association (Peter wasn’t teaching there then) intrigued us with their New Brutalism. After the war, young architects with passion wanted to follow Le Corbusier’s urban visions and rebuild Europe’s cities, and the brightest wanted to study urban planning in America first. But the Smithsons contested the idea of “decanting” the London poor into the rural, middle-class “New Towns,” and produced models following their street-life patterns for rebuilding in cities on bombed sites. This is what Brutalism stood for then, not the overwrought use of unfinished concrete. The Smithsons and Louis Kahn met over debates on this subject through CIAM and their 15-year correspondence is in the Smithson archives at Harvard. So when Peter said the only place to go for city planning was the University of Pennsylvania because Louis Kahn taught there, Robert Scott Brown and I went.

But before we left, we read an article in Time Magazine about Philadelphia and the planning we would encounter there thanks to its liberal reform government. A “white noose” of suburbs lay around the neck of a center city that was half black and half white, and measures were under discussion to keep blacks out of Philadelphia’s center. I was surprised. This was not happening secretly—it was openly discussed—just like in my sad and miserable country of South Africa, people in Philadelphia were practicing apartheid.

In the 1940s, South Africa was in social turmoil. I grew up with it and came away with a guilty conscience and sympathy for African needs. In England there was socialism and more turmoil, but in the late 50s, America decorum ruled—sloppy joes, long skirts, and bobby sox were in style—not protest. Yet within two years, the social turmoil familiar to me was here, too. We arrived from our experiences of Africa and Europe with lots of questions, and were happy to find not answers, but ways to search for them. At the semester’s end Herbert Gans, our sociology professor, said, “You came with such interesting questions. Where are the answers?” We were all very young, but I have since said to Herb, “You didn’t have answers, why did you expect us to have them?”

In the 1940s Kahn belonged to a citizens’ group for city planning that convened under the reformed government and was good at purveying planning facts via metaphors intriguing to architects. The ideas in his famous street plan came from this group—our transportation professor, Robert Mitchell, belonged too, and behind Lou’s plan I recognized the content of Mitchell’s lectures.

Robert Scott Brown and I entered planning school hoping to study early modern planning ideas, like Arturo Soria y Mata’s linear city. We thought it was an interesting solution to urban-rural disconnection in mass cities. Trains, we suggested, should travel at 100 miles an hour. When teachers observed that would be too fast for transit stops, we replied, “That doesn’t matter!” We were early modern machine romantics.

Formulating the questions was Penn’s planning school’s strength. But we learned it from social scientists and activists, not architects. Faculty and students in the architecture department were unaware it was happening.

The planning school was in the school of architecture?

Yes. How did a great socially based planning school develop in a school of architecture? The key was research. When federal urban renewal programs were created in the 1940s, research was mandated. But where would you put it? At first, architecture schools where cities were designed were the only receptacles for this largesse. So Penn’s Institute for Urban Studies hired Mitchell, architect turned transportation planner; Martin Meyerson, who came out of Penn and the University of Chicago; Herbert Gans, a city planning doctoral student (Penn’s first); C. Britton Harris and Jack Dyckman from Chicago; William Wheaton from Princeton and Harvard; and a young Paul Davidoff from Yale Law School. They were high-powered people, some, like Wheaton, were influential in Washington and were rainmakers for the school.

Universities use programs to fund activities temporarily while they are of interest. The Graduate School of Fine Arts’ Institute for Urban Studies was one of Penn’s first, but more followed as other departments tapped federal urban-related money. The presence of its young researchers was one of the reasons Robert Scott Brown and I found Penn to be the most exciting intellectual atmosphere we’d been in on three continents. People at Penn were thinking about the things we were thinking about, and thrilled to have us. But this was not so among the architects.

Architect planners like David Crane, our student advisor, had the same straddling problems I had. Whereas in London, architects approached urban planning because it was the going game, in America, you went there when you found you were not good at design. So I was seen as a non-designer in Penn architecture and was not invited to participate as I had been in England. But the American architectural elite had not yet caught up with Team Ten and the New Brutalism. Lou of course knew them and I introduced them to Bob and my students. By that time Robert was dead, people here had rallied to help me, I had formed lifelong friendships, and in 1960 I had begun teaching in the planning department.

In 1961, I started teaching the fall semester theories course for architects and was given a joint appointment in architecture and in planning. This meant I was the only full-time person teaching in architecture. The architects spent three afternoons a week in the school, whereas I was there day and night. To connect the studio and the theories course, I gave studio crits at night, so I had good ties with beginning architecture students, and very good ties with planning students by teaching studio and kibitzing in their theory course taught by Paul Davidoff. So, I saw things that few faculty, and none in architecture, saw, especially around the turmoil going on in social planning. It was 1961—an enlivening time in American cities and at Penn. But the architects didn’t notice.

What was the turmoil about?

There was social unrest in cities related to injustice and particularly to urban renewal, seen as “human removal.” And when the social planners erupted at Penn, architects asked, “Who are these people horning in on our field? We were doing very nicely without them.” They said, “don’t fix what ain’t broke.” So eventually all the planners left Penn, as well as many architects who were not Harvard-trained modernists. This was because research money dried up with Nixon and Reagan, but also because our dean, great in many respects, saw Harvard as the shining model for architectural education. So nonconformists were not reappointed, and beyond the social planners, Crane and I left and Bob too, and Penn lost the opportunity to be the first school to build on the early links then forming, over our somewhat mangled bodies, between the social and the physical in architecture.

Where did you go next?

Bill Wheaton invited me to be a visiting professor at Berkeley, so I taught there during the Foul Speech movement, one semester after the Free Speech movement, at Berkeley. Then I went on to start a school of architecture at UCLA. I was one of three founding faculty members there, and I taught studio as I had learned from Dave Crane’s planning studios. This was the model for the Learning From Las Vegas studio, and is the reason why every school of architecture now has one teamwork, urban project studio with a visit somewhere. Sadly they’re often junkets, not real research.

This model of teaching comes out of planning?

Yes but it needed adapting for architects and very careful putting together. Dave Crane pushed me at Penn to study regional science, an economic discipline, nicknamed “city physics.” It helped me greatly in connecting form and forces with architects. But at UCLA I taught urban design and brought in experts from various fields. The principal was George Dudley, who I had worked with in New York, and Henry Lu, Peter Kamnitzer, and I were faculty.

I ran the first studio and set the model for interdisciplinary teaching via studio. “Determinants of urban form,” my subject, investigated the forces that make form, and how to design with them. In team studios everyone shared information collected for the project with everyone else and we all shared the project. In that way everyone saw how the whole thing was put together.

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Here’s a first look at architecture publication LOBBY issue No. 4 “Abundance”

University College of London’s Bartlett School of Architecture’s fourth installment of its student-run magazine, LOBBY, hits shelves this week. The bright and glossy quarterly is named after the school’s primary exhibition/gathering space, however, it also embodies that word’s meaning as a verb, as in “to lobby.” While the publication aims to increase the relevance of architectural dialogue, it also tries to broader its scope by covering topics normally at the fringe of the profession and discipline: this issue alone has articles on Tinder, the UK housing crisis, trash, the architectural consequences of internet and data, and Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. In fact, LOBBY invites submissions from anyone who can hew to its broad themes. The publication also features interviews from prominent figures—this issue features interviews with Denise Scott Brown and Moshe Safdie—and employs slick graphics and colorful layouts. LOBBY No. 4, “Abundance,” picks up where last Winter’s “Defiance” issue left off by surveying a topic architecture students and recent graduates today know well: doing more with less in a time of austerity. After releasing first-look images of the new issue to The Architect's Newspaper, LOBBY Editor-In-Chief Regner Ramos said via email, “With this issue one of the things we were asking ourselves was, how can we reinvent our world and create abundance out of our current shortages? How can scarcity lead to abundance?”  Ramos goes on to say, “We've had a lot of really great photographers and illustrators who like the work we're doing and have been really keen on collaborating with us. I think that's one of the things that makes this magazine special, that it's really bringing creatives together to deliver a really special product that doesn't quite look like any other architecture magazine out there. Yes, it's a magazine for architecture lovers, but it's also accessible, wide in its range of content and editorially and visually curated.” Current and past LOBBY issues can be found on their website.
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Basket builders vacate Ohio’s famous basket building

After nearly twenty years, the Longaberger Company, makers of wooden baskets, will be moving out of its trademark Longaberger "Medium Market Basket" shaped building in Newark, Ohio. Designed by the Longaberger Company, with NBBJ as architects of record, the corporate headquarters sits just about 40 miles north of Columbus. At 160 times larger than the basket it is based on, the seven-story building has 180,000 square feet of office. Longaberger will be moving its workers to its nearby manufacturing facility in Frazeysburg, OH. The Big Basket, as it is referred to, is an example of novelty, or programmatic architecture. Though built in the 1990s, examples of novelty buildings stretch back more than 100 years, and include the Tail o’the Pup hot dog stand in Los Angeles and Lucy the Elephant in Somers, New York. Another example is the Big Duck of Flanders, New York, made infamous by Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi’s theories on the “duck,” describing buildings which combine their function with their shape as a symbol of that function. As such, ducks and duck eggs are sold in the Big Duck. As reported by the Columbus Dispatch, the basket company has a back tax debt of $570,000. If that amount is not eventually paid, the county could repossess the property and sell it in a sheriff’s auction. The starting bid would be set at the tax amount plus court costs. At around $600,000, that would make the building possibly the most expensive picnic basket ever sold, but an excellent bargain for an office building.
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On View> 100 Years of Architecture Education at Yale

Any fan of architecture is familiar with the rich history of the Yale School of Architecture (YSoA). If they aren't they are likely familiar with some of the projects that have resulted from the school's influential concrete halls. From Paul Rudolph's heroic brutalism to Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown's "Learning From" series—and the productive friction between the two—the school has had an impact on much of the history of 20th and 21st century century architecture. A new exhibition, “Pedagogy and Place," organized by YSoA dean Robert A.M. Stern and curator (and AN contributor) Jimmy Stamp with Alfie Koetter, presents a range of student work that tracks the history of Yale architecture, and in parallel, the history of American architecture alongside political change in the U.S. The show is located in the YSoA Gallery in Rudolph Hall and is free and open to the public. With the bush-hammered concrete walls enveloping visitors, the show unfolds as a series of eight "eras" in Yale's history, including its beginnings as the American Beaux-Arts, to the beginnings of Modernism, to the high-flying Heroics of Rudolph and company, to the radical experiments of John Johansen and Charles Moore. The material in the exhibition is all student work, labeled as such with student names and their professors credited as well. It reads like the old issues of Domus or Progressive Architecture, but with student work illustrating each period and line of thinking. Education and the academy plays a serious role in the pursuit of intellectual innovation in architecture, and Yale is one of the leaders. A related publication, “Pedagogy and Place: 100 Years of Architecture Education at Yale,” will be published in April 2016 by Yale Press. A symposium, “Learning/Doing/Thinking: Educating Architects,” will be held April 14–16 in New Haven. All of this coincides with the changing of the guard as Stern moves on and Deborah Berke, architect and founder of the New York-based design firm Deborah Berke Partners, assumes deanship July 1. Pedagogy and Place YSoA Gallery in Rudolph Hall 180 York Street Monday–Friday 9 a.m.–5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

                    
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I Am a Monumental Gift Idea: Venturi Scott Brown Online Store Now Open

Last minute holiday shopping? Who isn't a fan of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown? Whether you like Rome, Las Vegas, or Levittown, you can find something useful from the duo. They are famous for quips like, "You don't have to like something to learn from it," and "I can like something worse than you can like." Venturi even called himself "The Dennis the Menace of Architecture." Now you can get all the fun '60s and '70s architectural debauchery delivered to your house, with the Learning from Bob and Denise store, online now with merchandise fit for a minor league sports team. The store is a fundraising effort for the documentary Learning from Bob and Denise, which chronicles the work of Venturi and Scott Brown, and is directed by their son, Jim Venturi, of ReThink NYC fame. The project is an ongoing project, and you can support it by buying some of the unique merchandise in the store. https://vimeo.com/64510496 The Venturis are cited as some of the most influential practitioners and theorists of their day. Their ongoing relevance makes them not only intellectually important, but culturally as well. So hop on the latest architectural craze and pickup a "Vanna Venturi House" T-Shirt, an "I am a Monument" (Thong), a Denise Scott Brown "Duck" Apron, or whatever your favorite Venturian would enjoy this holiday season.-
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Finally! The 2016 AIA Gold Medal goes to Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown

The AIA has named Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown the winners of the 2016 AIA Gold Medal. The honor, the AIA's highest, goes to architects whose work is likely to have a lasting influence on the practice of architecture, design, and related fields.

The Philadelphia-based architects’ most recognizable works include the 1964 Vanna Venturi House, in Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania; the Seattle Art Museum (1985); and the Provincial Capitol Building in Toulouse (1999).

In addition to buildings, they designed furniture, most notably the Chippendale chair, a postmodern take on the ornate Colonial furniture of Thomas Chippendale.

Scott Brown and Venturi co-authored Learning from Las Vegas: the Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form (1977) and Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (1966), two texts that analyzed postmodernity in architecture and the American landscape. The award, to be bestowed next year, comes on the 50th anniversary of the publishing of the latter text.

The couple works together on most projects. In 2013, the AIA revised its selection criteria to allow the award to be granted jointly, perhaps in response to the Pritzker Prize committee’s famous exclusion of Scott Brown, granting the prize to Venturi only in 1991. A 2013 petition initiated by students at the Harvard Graduate School of Design to retroactively honor Scott Brown (and signed by Venturi himself) was rejected by the committee.

Last year, the AIA granted the gold medal to Moshe Safdie. Venturi and Scott Brown's legacy will be set in stone: each gold medal winner has his or her name chiseled into the granite Wall of Honor at the AIA headquarters in Washington, D.C.

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Eavesdrop Grab Bag> The latest gossip from the west coast

Word has it that Art Center, which seems to already own all of Downtown Pasadena, has just bought the area’s massive Jacobs Engineering Building. Also on the move, USC Dean Qingyun Ma has relocated his firm’s offices to none other than Downtown LA’s Bradbury Building. How’s that for pressure? And we’ve learned of the initiation beverage of our favorite architecture-related women’s drinking and discussion group: Denise Scotch Brown. What group would Venturi inspire? We shudder to think... Something about Vermouth?