Iconography and Electronics Upon a Generic Architecture: A View from the Drafting Room

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MIT Press, Feb 6, 1998 - Architecture - 374 pages
"Robert Venturi's 'Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture' and 'Learning from Las Vegas' (the latter coauthored with Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour) are among the most influential books by any architect of our era - the one celebrating complexity in architecture, the other the uses of symbolism in commercial and vernacular architecture and signage. This new collection of writings in a variety of genres argues for a generic architecture defined by iconography and electronics, an architecture whose elemental qualities become shelter and symbol. Venturi, who along with his partner, Denise Scott Brown, made the vulgar acceptable and found virtue in the commercial, the kitsch, and the ordinary, is respected equally as a theorist and an architect who communicates his architectural ideas, formal and verbal, with grace and wit. These essays, letters, reports, lectures, manifestos, and polemical texts offer a candid, uncensored view from the drafting room, commonsense responses, urgent and diverse, of a busy architect, in part a reaction against the conceptualizing of architecture today invaded by other disciplines and made obscure. Seven of the essays were coauthored with Denise Scott Brown. The voice is personal, eloquent in expounding on the unglamorous side of practice; sometimes vituperative and corrective in addressing clients, theoreticians, and critics; often amusing and humorous in looking back on past projects and opportunities; instructive in describing early influences and tasts; and reflective in assessing his own impact on the profession. The lead essays can be described as an argument embracing reference and representation in our information age, whose technical basis is truly of our time and whose iconographic basis derives from a long tradition in architecture including hieroglyphic Egyptian pylons, early Christian basilicas, scenographic Baroque interiors, and even eclectic Romantic architecture and twentieth-century electronic signs and displays. The essays include Venturi's 1950 M.F.A. thesis, published here for the first time - a work that foreshadows many of the themes that were later to make him a controversial and ground-breaking architect and writer - and a series of vintage Venturi aphorisms"--Back cover.
 

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Iconography and electronics upon a generic architecture: a view from the drafting room

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Venturi is probably the best-known architect of his generation-the generation that came to maturity in the 1960s and has continued to chart most of the architectural currents of the last 30 years. He ... Read full review

Contents

A Not So Gentle Manifesto
11
Homage to Vincent Scully and His Shingle Style with Reminiscences
41
Adorable Discoveries When I Was a SemiNaive Fellow at the American
57
Words on the Guggenheim Museum in Response to a Request by Thomas
73
Learning from Aalto
77
Essay Derived from the Acceptance Speech the Madison Medal Princeton
93
Two Naifs in Japan
109
Las Vegas after Its Classic
123
Community
219
Note on the Beloved Princeton Campus as a Basis for a Proposed Planning
239
Windowsc 65
255
The Current Academization of American Architectural
271
Letter Not Sent to an Architecture Critic
283
AphorismsSweet and Sourby an AntiHero
299
Introduction to My M F A Thesis
333
Copyright

Thoughts on Fire Station No 4 TwentyFive Years Later
137

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About the author (1998)

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.

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