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Robert Venturi, Postmodern Architect

b. 1925

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Robert Venturi, architect

Robert Venturi, architect

Pritzker Prize Press Photo
Photo of television host Geoffrey Baer near postmodern house designed by Robert Venturi

PBS host Geoffrey Baer chose the Vanna Venturi House as one of the Ten Buildings That Changed America

Geoffrey Baer in front of Vanna Venturi House courtesy PBS Press Room, 2013
Architect Denise Scott Brown in June 2013

Venturi's partner, Denise Scott Brown, in June 2013

Denise Scott Brown in 2013 by Gary Gershoff/Getty Images for Lilly Awards, ©2013 Getty Images

Husband and wife team Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown are known for architecture steeped in popular symbolism. Kitsch becomes art in designs which exaggerate or stylize cultural icons.

Born:

June 25, 1925 in Philadelphia, PA

Education:

  • Princeton University, M.F.A., 1950
  • American Academy in Rome, Rome Prize Fellow, 1954-1956

Partnerships:

  • Early in his career, worked for Eero Saarinen, and then in the Philadelphia offices of Louis I. Kahn and Oscar Stonorov.
  • Partnered with John Rauch 1964-1989
  • Since 1960 has collaborated with his wife, the architect, planner, author, and educator Denise Scott Brown. Their firm is Venturi, Scott Brown & Associates (VSBA).

Important Buildings:

Books:

  • Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture
    In this groundbreaking book, published in 1966, Robert Venturi challenged modernism and celebrated the mix of historic styles in great cities like Rome. (Compare Prices)
  • Learning from Las Vegas
    Subtitled The Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form this postmodernist classic called the "vulgar billboards" of the Vegas Strip emblems for a new architecture. Published in 1972, the book was written by Robert Venturi, Steven Izenour, and Denise Scott Brown. (Compare Prices)

Awards:

  • 1985: AIA Firm Award
  • 1990: AIA Medal of Distinction, The Pennsylvania Society of Architects
  • 1991: Pritzker Architecture Prize
  • 1992: National Medal of Arts, U.S. Presidential award

Famous Venturi Quote:

Rejecting the simplicity of modernism and responding to the Mies van der Rohe dictum, "Less is more," Robert Venturi quipped: "Less is a bore."

Important Ideas:

Related People:

About Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates:

Robert Venturi is known for incorporating stylized cultural icons into his buildings. For example, there's a playful retro look to the Celebration, Florida bank building designed by Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates. Molded to fit the shape of the street corner it occupies, the bank resembles a 1950s-era gas station or hamburger restaurant.

However, Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates is recognized for much more than Postmodernist designs. Based in Philadelphia, PA, the firm has completed more than 400 projects, each uniquely suited to the special needs of the clients.

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