Zaha Hadid, Kengo Kuma, Daniel Libeskind, Nieto Sobejano, Denise Scott Brown and Philip Treacy reveal the childhood recollections that have shaped their outstanding visions and work.
Architects and designers are often asked whose work inspired them as students and influenced their thinking, but Roca London Gallery’s autumn show suggests that design inspiration actually goes back much further than this, into early childhood, and can take some unexpected forms.
Through their pioneering theory and provocative built work, husband and wife duo Robert Venturi (born June 25, 1925) and Denise Scott Brown (born October 3, 1931) were at the forefront of the postmodern movement, leading the charge in one of the most significant shifts in architecture of the 20th century by publishing seminal books such as Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (authored by Robert Venturi alone) and Learning from Las Vegas(co-authored by Venturi, Scott Brown and Steven Izenour).
Thanks to the increasing availability of giant LED screens, the Golden Age of Neon has quietly faded in Las Vegas. For decades casinos defined their visual identity with colorful neon signs and competed for the most innovative signage. But with casinos closing, being refurbished and the arrival of new lighting technology a lot of neon signs were replaced, and for many years the Young Electric Sign Company kept the old neon signs in their "boneyard" for storage and recycling. Fortunately historic preservation groups rescued these signs. With support of the arts council The Neon Museum was born to save neon treasures and to educate the public.
Read on to explore Las Vegas' luminous landmarks and The Neon Museum.
To celebrate International Women's Day, we asked the Brazilian non-profit group Arquitetas Invisíveis to share with us a part of their work, which identifies women in architecture and urbanism. They kindly shared with us a list of 48 important women architects, divided into seven categories: pioneers, "in the shadows," architecture, landscape architecture, social architecture, urbanism and sustainable architecture. We will be sharing this list over the course of the week.
Yesterday we brought you The Pioneers, and today we present the women architects that have lived in "the shadows" of the some of the great names in the architecture world.
In light of Brown’s success and birthday, we would like to share some fascinating statistics presented by Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) that measure the progress on gender in architecture. According to the report, women make up 51% of the 316 million people residing in the US, however only 25% of the 193,000 registered architects are women. This presents the question, “Where are all the women?”
The statistics on US women in architecture, after the break.
Robert Venturi, the architect famous for "less is a bore," turns 89 today. Venturi started his firm in 1964 and ran it with his wife and partner Denise Scott Brown from 1967 until 2012. Today the Pritzker Prize winner's legacy lives on as the firm continues under the name VSBA (Venturi Scott Brown Associates).
Following a year of high-profile debates surrounding women in architecture, the results from the Architects' Journal (AJ) third annual survey entitled Women in Architecture has been revealed. According to the AJ, "two thirds of women in architecture have suffered sexual discrimination at work, an eight point increase since the survey began in 2011", and "88% of women respondents believe that having children puts women at a disadvantage in architecture." Even though women in architecture believe that they are paid equally to men, they can in fact "earn as much as £10,000 ($16,500) less than their male counterparts." More, after the break.
Designers & Books editors Stephanie Salomon and Steve Kroeter sat down with Denise Scott Brown for a conversation centered around Learning from Las Vegas, the seminal work penned by Scott Brown, Robert Venturi, and Steven Izenour in 1972. The must-read interview reveals some fantastic insight into Scott Brown's personal and professional life - her unending love of neon (one which led her to Las Vegas), her distaste for the "tyranny of white paper" (which gravely afflicted the design of the first edition of Learning from Las Vegas),as well as her - rather surprising - position on awarding group creativity. Read the full interview here and check out some select quotes from the interview, after the break.
"In the 10 years I’ve been running my architectural practice, I [...] have gotten accustomed to people assuming that my male employees — whether younger or older — are the lead architects who will be making final decisions. Yet this time a lingering frustration colored the rest of my day, a sense that while feminism has made significant progress on a conscious level, little change has trickled down into the unconscious of our culture." Check out the rest of Esther Sperber's column for Lilith, in which she details the past travails of female architects (particularly Denise Scott Brown's), and their future mission, here.
“Women are the ghosts of modern architecture, everywhere present, crucial, but strangely invisible,” writes historian Beatriz Colomina in “With, Or Without You,” an essay in the Museum of Modern Art’s 2010 catalog, Modern Women. “Architecture is deeply collaborative, more like moviemaking than visual art, for example. But unlike movies, this is hardly ever acknowledged.”
Colomina goes on to chronicle the history of modernism’s missing women, acknowledged, if at all, as working “with” Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, Alvar Aalto, or Charles Eames. To put yourself in the shoes of Lilly Reich, Charlotte Perriand, and Aino Aalto, simply watch the cringe-worthy video of the Eameses on the Home show in 1956; Ray['s] introduced as the “very capable woman behind him” who enters after Charles has bantered with host Arlene Francis.
This spring, these ghosts came back to haunt us: Arielle Assouline-Lichten, a student at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard, read excerpts from an interview with Denise Scott Brown in which she mentioned her own absence from partner Robert Venturi’s 1991 Pritzker Prize. “They owe me not a Pritzker Prize but a Pritzker inclusion ceremony,” Scott Brown said. “Let’s salute the notion of joint creativity.”
Read all of Alexandra Lange's essay, after the break...
In the wake of Pritzker’s refusal to retroactively acknowledge Denise Scott Brown’s role in Robert Venturi’s 1991 Pritzker Prize, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Board of Directors have voted to expand the prestigious Gold Medal award’s criteria to include either an individual or two individuals working together in a collaborative partnership. In order to be considered, partners must have created a singular body of distinguished architectural work.
Lord Palumbo, the Chair of The Pritzker Architecture Prize, has responded that this would be impossible due to the way that Pritzker Juries deliberate: "Pritzker juries, over time, are made up of different individuals, each of whom does his or her best to find the most highly qualified candidate. A later jury cannot re-open, or second guess the work of an earlier jury, and none has ever done so."
The letter goes on to suggest that Ms. Scott Brown is, however, still eligible for a Pritzker of her own; it also thanks Assouline-Lichten and James for "calling directly to our attention a more general problem, namely that of assuring women a fair and equal place within the profession. [...] one particular role that the Pritzker Jury must fulfill, in this respect, is that of keeping in mind the fact that certain recommendations or discussions relating to architectural creation are often a reflection of particular times or places, which may reflect cultural biases that underplay a woman’s role in the creative process. Where this occurs, we must, and we do, take such matters into account."
In 1961, Phyllis Richman, a student at Brandeis University, was considering applying to the Harvard Graduate School of Design's Department of City and Regional Planning. The response from Professor Doebele, which you can read above, was to question the validity/practicality of her desire to enter into higher education, being, as she would surely be, a future wife and mother.
While today it sounds almost quaint in its blatantly sexist assumptions, Ms. Richman's letter remains, unfortunately, all too relevant. In her article for The Washington Post, Richman says: "To the extent, Dr. Doebele, that your letter steered me away from city planning and opened my path to writing [a career Richman later describes as "remarkably well-suited to raising children"], one might consider that a stroke of luck. I’d say, though, that the choice of how to balance family and graduate school should have been mine."
She's absolutely right, of course; the decision was hers and hers alone to make. However, there's no avoiding that Richman eventually found success in a job that allowed her to live flexibly as a professional and parent. How many women, and for that matter men, can claim that of architecture? How many architects are convinced, just like Ms. Richman, to pursue success in other, more flexible careers?
The Pritzker Prize had idealistic beginnings: recognising achievement within architecture, a profession that had long lost its status in public opinion. Pritzker 'seamed' this fragmentation, celebrated the architect and broadcast this stellar contribution to society, as a creative, a singular author whose uniqueness set him/her apart from a field of practitioners.
The Prize has since assumed a role of gatekeeper to the 'starchitect' it once helped define. While it is inspiring that architecture as a profession has reaffirmed its status and cultural significance, The Pritzker places itself on an archi-centric proscenium, running the risk of being consumed by a synthetic reality within the profession. If Pritzker and other similar models of recognition are to evolve, they must illuminate widespread transformations in practice and emphasise the changing of the guard within the profession.
Firstly, Denise Scott Brown should be recognised retrospectively. Opinion does not change facts.
Read more about the (d)evolution of the Pritzker Prize, after the break...