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Modernist architecture isn't for everyone, and architect Robert Venturi was not a fan. Starting in the mid-1960's, he became a leading critic of Modernist design and became a leader the post-modern movement. Some say this rebellion killed off Modernism but to be fair it was not doing that well anyway. We include the work of Venturi and his partner/spouse Denise Scott Brown, both extraordinary award-winning architects, so you can explore between Modernist and post-Modernist designs.
ROBERT CHARLES VENTURI, JR., FAIA, FRIBA (1925-)
Venturi was born in Philadelphia PA and attended school at the Episcopal Academy in Merion PA. He graduated from Princeton in 1947 and received his MFA from Princeton in 1950. In 1951 he briefly worked under Eero Saarinen in Michigan and later for Louis Kahn in Philadelphia. He was awarded the Rome Prize Fellowship at the American Academy in Rome in 1954. From 1954 to 1965, Venturi held teaching positions at the University of Pennsylvania, where he served as Kahn's teaching assistant, an instructor, and later, as associate professor.
At a 1960 faculty meeting, Scott Brown met Robert Venturi when she spoke against demolishing the university's library. The two became collaborators and taught courses together from 1962 to 1964.
A strong critic of Modernism, his 1966 book, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture, advocated a richer, more ornamental, more detailed style of architecture that was a slap to Modernism, rejecting it as an elite architectural taste. Venturi, and later Scott Brown, accepted American sprawl as normal and vernacular architecture (aka what is built in a place already) as perfectly fine. Venturi even coined the term "Less is a bore", a post-modern antidote to Mies van der Rohe's famous Modernist dictum "Less is more".
As Paul Goldberger wrote in Vanity Fair, "Venturi argued that modern buildings were simplistic and reductivist, and that they aspired to a purity that most of architectural history denied. Great buildings were complicated responses to all kinds of situations, not pieces of abstract sculpture indifferent to their surroundings," Venturi said.
Venturi created the firm Venturi and Short with William Short in 1960. After John Rauch replaced Short as partner in 1964, the firm became Venturi and Rauch. In 1980, The firm's name became Venturi, Rauch and Scott Brown, and after Rauch's resignation in 1989, Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates. The firm, based in Philadelphia, was awarded the Architecture Firm Award by the AIA in 1985.
DENISE LAKOFSKY SCOTT BROWN, RIBA, FRIBA (1931-)
Scott Brown, born Denise Lakofsky in Rhodesia, studied at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 1948 to 1952. In London, she graduated from the Architectural Association School of Architecture in 1954. She married fellow student Robert Scott Brown in 1955 and spent the next three years working and traveling with him in Europe. In 1958, the Scott Browns came to Philadelphia to study at the University of Pennsylvania's Planning department. She completed her Masters in City Planning in 1960 and joined the faculty.
They married in 1967. Scott Brown moved back to Philadelphia in 1967 to join her husband's firm, Venturi and Rauch, and became principal in charge of planning in 1969.
She taught at Yale University, and in 2003 was a visiting lecturer with Venturi at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design. Scott Brown led the firm's major projects, including the Sainsbury Wing of London's National Gallery, the capitol building in Toulouse and the Nikko Hotel and Spa Resort in Japan.
Venturi was awarded the Pritzker Prize in Architecture in 1991; the prize was awarded to him alone, despite his request to include his equal partner Scott Brown, which the Pritzker Prize jury declined. Denise Scott Brown did not attend the ceremony in protest. The Pritzker Prize organization stated that it honored only individual architects.Venturi and Scott Brown shaped the way that architects, planners and students experience and think about architecture and the American built environment. Both were honored with the AIA Gold Medal in 2015. Bios adapted from Wikipedia.
1957 - The R. J. Gambescia House Alterations, 307 Delancey Street, Philadelphia PA. Sold to J. D. Farber, who hired Venturi to do more alterations in 1964.
1957 - The Forrest Pearson House, Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania PA. Unbuilt.
1959 - The Beach House, location unknown. Unbuilt.
1959 - The H. Justice Williams House Alterations I, 307-309 Philip Street, Philadelphia PA. Original house was 1860.
1959 - The Foulkeways Housing, Gwynnedd PA. Unbuilt.
1960 - The Frank Correnty House Alterations and Addition, 121 Overhill Road, Upper Darby PA.
1960 - The Dudley L. Miller House, East Hampton NY. Unbuilt.
1960 - The Yehudi Wyner House Alterations, Woodstock NY.
1964 - The Guild House, 711 Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia PA. Commissioned 1961.
1961 - The Vanna Venturi House, 8330 Millman Street, Philadelphia PA. Photo by Rollin La France and George Pohl. An addition was designed in 1975, unbuilt.
1962 - The Meiss House, 1 Einstein Drive, Princeton NJ. Unbuilt.
1962 - The Hun School Dormitory, Russell Road, Princeton NJ. Photo by Rollin La France.
1963 - The Otto F. Haas Garage Addition, 300 Lewis Lane, Ambler Borough PA. A carriage shed was added by VSB in 1973 and an interior renovation in 1977.
1964 - The Paul Perry House Alterations, 1841 South Broad Street, Philadelphia PA.
1964 - The T. T. Fleming House Alterations, 1320 Frog Hollow Road, Rydal, Abington PA.
1964 - The H. Justice Williams House Alterations II, 128 Fitzwater Street, Philadelphia PA.
1965 - The Frug House I, Princeton NJ. Unbuilt.
1965 - The Frug House II, Princeton NJ. Unbuilt.
1967 - The Nathaniel and Judith Lieb House, East 30th Street (near Long Beach Boulevard), Loveladies NJ. Renovated in 1972. Moved to Westland Drive, Glen Cove NY since 2010. Photos by Steven Hill.
1967 - The Brighton Beach Housing Competition, Brighton Beach, Brooklyn NY. Unbuilt.
1968 - The D'Agostino House, Clinton NY. Unbuilt.
1968 - The Hersey House, Hyannis Port MA. Unbuilt.
1969 - The Wike House, Devon PA. Unbuilt. Model photos by Steven Hill.
1970 - The Peter Brant Residence I, aka A House in Connecticut, 417 Taconic Road (near East Middle Patent Road), Greenwich CT. Photos by Cervin Robinson. Additions were designed in 1976 and 1978, both unbuilt.
1970 - The David Trubeck/Wislocky House, Proprietors Way (near Pocomo Road), Nantucket Island MA. Photo by Steven Izenhour.
1972 - The Robert Venturi House, Wissahickon Avenue, 1025 Kitchens Lane, Philadelphia PA. Contrary to some publications, Venturi did not design this house. He simply bought it.
1972 - Addition, 7201 Pleasure Avenue, Sea Isle City NJ.
1974 - The Carl Tucker House, 48 Upper Hook Road, Katonah NY. Photo by Tom Crane and Tom Bernard.
1974 - aka The Dream House, Jersey Shore NJ. Unbuilt.
1975 - The Peter Brant House II, Tucker's Town Road, Tuckers Town, Bermuda. Photo by Tom Bernard.
1975 - The Peter Brant and Jed Johnson House, aka House in Vail, 330 Rockledge Road, Vail Village CO. Photo by Steven Izenhour.
1977 - aka House on Long Island I. Unbuilt.
1977 - aka The Eclectic House, location unknown. Unbuilt.
1977 - aka The House in Absecon, Absecon NJ. Unbuilt.
1978 - The Peter H. Flint and Karen Gebhart House, aka House in Delaware, 205 Center Meeting Road, Greenville (Wilmington) DL. Photo by Matt Wargo.
1979 - The Betty Abrams House, 118A Woodland Road, Pittsburgh PA. Still owned by Abrams as of 2014.
1979 - The Peter Brant House, aka Mount Vernon House Competition, 385 Taconic Road, Greenwich CT. Despite all their previous work for the client, Venturi and Scott Brown lost to Allan Greenberg.
1979 - The Chinatown Housing, Spring and Winter Street at 10th Street, Philadelphia PA. Photo by Tom Bernard.
1979 - The Coxe-Hayden House and Studio, 749 Corn Neck Road, New Shoreham, Block Island RI. Photo by Tom Bernard and Tom Crane.
1980 - The Park Regency Condos, 2333 Bering Drive, Houston TX.
1982 - The Donald A. Petrie House, aka House on Long Island III, 2 Eel Cove Road (near Piersons Way), East Hampton NY. Photo by Tom Bernard. A 1981 scheme for Petrie was named House on Long Island II.
1983 - The Winterthur Housing, Rockland Road, Route 100, Wilmington DL. Unbuilt.
1983 - The Kalpajian House, aka House on Long Island IV, 52 Westland Drive, Glen Cove NY. The Lieb house was moved here around 2010. It's the smaller house on the right of the cul-de-sac. Photo by Matt Wargo.
1984 - The George Izenour House, 16 Flying Point Road, Branford/Stony Creek CT. Photos by Steven Izenhour.
1984 - The Alessi Library, aka Library for a House in Northern Italy, Lake Orta, Italy.
1985 - aka House on Long Island V, 48 Briar Patch Lane, East Hampton NY. Photos by Matt Wargo.
1985 - The Warren Pearl Development Corporation Houses, aka Pearl Houses, 1480 Breakers West Boulevard, West Palm Beach FL. Was to be a series of houses, but only this one was built. Photo by Matt Wargo.
1985 - aka Sunshine Dream Village, Orlando FL. Unbuilt.
1986 - The Rockefeller House, aka House in Maine, aka House in Seal Harbour, 187 Peabody Drive, Mount Desert Island ME. Photo by Matt Wargo.
1986 - aka House in Tuxedo Park, New York NY. Unbuilt.
1990 - aka Prototype Houses for Mitsui Home Company, Mitsui, Japan. Unbuilt.
1993 - aka House in Chester County, Devon PA. Unbuilt.
1994 - The Coleman and Susan Burke House, aka House on Nantucket II, 37 Gardner, Nantucket Island MA. A 1981 scheme for the couple, aka House on Nantucket I, was unbuilt.
2009 - The Simon Lince and Cary Leibowitz Remodel, aka The Linceowitz House, 507 Gahbauer Road, Hudson NY. Photos by the owners.
Sources include: Mario Roy, Architectural Monography No 21, Venturi, Rauch & Scott Brown – Buildings and Projects; Venturi, Rauch & Scott Brown, Works and Projects 1959-1985; Venturi Scott Brown & Associates 1986‐1998; Venturi Scott Brown and Associates: Works and Projects; Virtual Globetrotting; Venturi Scott Brown Collection of
University of Pennsylvania.