Architecture as Signs and Systems: For a Mannerist Time

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Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2004 - Architecture - 251 pages

Robert Venturi exploded onto the architectural scene in 1966 with a radical call to arms in Complexity and Contradiction. Further accolades and outrage ensued in 1972 when Venturi and Denise Scott Brown (along with Steven Izenour) analyzed the Las Vegas strip as an archetype in Learning from Las Vegas. Now, for the first time, these two observer-designer-theorists turn their iconoclastic vision onto their own remarkable partnership and the rule-breaking architecture it has informed.

The views of Venturi and Scott Brown have influenced architects worldwide for nearly half a century. Pluralism and multiculturalism; symbolism and iconography; popular culture and the everyday landscape; generic building and electronic communication are among the many ideas they have championed. Here, they present both a fascinating retrospective of their life work and a definitive statement of its theoretical underpinnings.

Accessible, informative, and beautifully illustrated, Architecture as Signs and Systems is a must for students of architecture and urban planning, as well as anyone intrigued by these seminal cultural figures. Venturi and Scott Brown have devoted their professional lives to broadening our view of the built world and enlarging the purview of practitioners within it. By looking backward over their own life work, they discover signs and systems that point forward, toward a humane Mannerist architecture for a complex, multicultural society.

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About the author (2004)

Robert Charles Venturi Jr. was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on June 25, 1925. He received undergraduate and graduate degrees from Princeton University. He worked for Eero Saarinen and Louis Kahn, before winning a fellowship at the American Academy in Rome. Venturi spent two years in Europe studying buildings. After returning to the United States, he joined the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania. He went into private practice in 1960, first in partnership with William H. Short and then, starting in 1964, with John Rauch. His wife Denise Scott Brown joined the Venturi Rauch firm in 1969. In 1989, Rauch resigned, the firm was renamed Venturi, Scott Brown & Associates. It is now known as VSBA Architects & Planners. His buildings and books helped inspire the movement known as postmodernism. His buildings included the Guild House in Philadelphia, an addition to the National Gallery in London, and the Seattle Art Museum. His books included Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture and Learning from Las Vegas written with Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour. He won the Pritzker Prize in 1991. He died from complications of Alzheimer's disease on September 18, 2018 at the age of 93.

Denise Scott Brown is principal in charge of urban and campus planning and design in the architectural firm Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates. She is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the ACSA-AIA Topaz Medallion for Architecture Education and the Chicago Architecture Award. She has taught at Harvard, Yale, UCLA, UC Berkeley, and the University of Pennsylvania.

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