In praise of Robert Venturi

Celebrate the life’s work of one of the most preeminent pioneers of postmodern architecture.

Bob Denise and Denise Scott Brown

Like many of our international friends and colleagues, we were sad to hear of the passing of renowned architect Robert Venturi. Along with Denise Scott Brown, he was a key player in ushering in postmodern architecture.

What follows is an excerpt from venturiscottbrown.org. It highlights his contributions to the field—and to the world. We encourage everyone to dig deeper into his life and works to understand the continued relevance of his work and his query into the limits of modernism.

Robert Venturi, founding principal of VSBA, derives his reputation from both his architecture and theoretical and critical writings. His most recent book, written with Denise Scott Brown and published by Harvard University Press, refers to Mr. Venturi and Ms. Scott Brown’s contributions as “[having] influenced architects worldwide for nearly half a century.”

Mr. Venturi’s major work includes a provincial capitol building of the Haute-Garonne in Toulouse, France; the Mielparque Nikko Kirifuri resort hotel near Nikko, Japan; the Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery in London; additions to the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; the Seattle Art Museum; and recently, conceptual design of two high-rise offices in Shanghai; major expansions to Lehigh Valley Hospital; a chapel for the Episcopal Academy near Philadelphia and designs and documents for a new wing for the Woodmere Art Museum in Philadelphia.

VSBA has engaged in over 70 academic projects for over 30 institutions of higher learning, including labs for the University of Kentucky, Princeton, Penn, Michigan, UCLA, UC Santa Barbara, and Yale; libraries at Dartmouth, Penn, Bard, and Harvard’s Dumbarton Oaks; and campus centers for Princeton, Dartmouth, Penn, Delaware, Harvard, and Swarthmore. VSBA’s architecture and planning are known for particular responsiveness to the client’s program, schedule, and budget and to the building’s context, accommodating a distinctive aesthetic for each project.

Mr. Venturi’s teaching, lecturing, and writing have received widespread attention and critical review. Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (Museum of Modern Art Press, 1966) has been translated and published in 18 languages, including a Samizdat edition in Czechoslovakian. It has been honored with the AIA’s Classic Book Award. It and Learning from Las Vegas (with D. Scott Brown and S. Izenour 1972) are still in print. Mr. Venturi’s awards include the Pritzker Architecture Prize (1991) and the Presidential National Medal of the Arts (1992).

For more information, please visit: vsba.com

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