AD Classics: Sainsbury Wing, National Gallery London / Venturi Scott Brown

04:00 - 10 February, 2016
The Sainsbury Wing as seen from Trafalgar Square. Image © Valentino Danilo Matteis
The Sainsbury Wing as seen from Trafalgar Square. Image © Valentino Danilo Matteis

Venturi Scott-Brown’s National Gallery Sainsbury Wing extension (1991) was born into a precarious no-man’s land between the warring camps of neo-Modernists and traditionalists who had been tussling over the direction of Britain’s cities for much of the prior decade. The site of the extension had come to be one of the most symbolic battlefields in British architecture since a campaign to halt its redevelopment with a Hi-Tech scheme by Ahrends Burton Koralek had led to that project’s refusal at planning in 1984.

The 'Echo Façade'. Image © Valentino Danilo Matteis Ground floor lobby with rustication. Image © Valentino Danilo Matteis © Valentino Danilo Matteis Stairway. Image © Valentino Danilo Matteis +17

Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi Win 2016 AIA Gold Medal

09:25 - 3 December, 2015
© Frank Hanswijk
© Frank Hanswijk

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has announced Denise Scott Brown, hon. FAIA and Robert Venturi, FAIA, as joint winners of the 2016 AIA Gold Medal. The AIA cited the duo for their "built projects as well as literature that set the stage for Postmodernism and nearly every other formal evolution in architecture." Scott Brown and Venturi are the first ever pair to receive the Gold Medal, after the AIA approved a change to its bylaws in 2013 that allowed the award to be presented to up to two individuals working together.

Best Products Showroom, Langhorne, Pennsylvania (1978). Image © Tom Bernard Episcopal Academy Chapel, Newtown Square (2008). Image © Matt Wargo Franklin Court, Philadelphia (1976). Image © Mark Cohn Vanna Venturi House (1964). Image © Rollin LaFrance +7

Exhibition: Childhood ReCollections

07:00 - 25 August, 2015
Daniel Libeskind with accordion in Lodz, Poland, 1955
Daniel Libeskind with accordion in Lodz, Poland, 1955

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. 

Spotlight: Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown

15:30 - 25 June, 2015
© Frank Hanswijk
© Frank Hanswijk

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).

Light Matters: A Flash Back to the Glittering Age of Las Vegas at the Neon Museum

09:30 - 23 June, 2015
Fremont Street at night in Downtown Las Vegas in 1952. Image © Edward N. Edstrom (Public Domain via Wikimedia)
Fremont Street at night in Downtown Las Vegas in 1952. Image © Edward N. Edstrom (Public Domain via Wikimedia)

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.

Neon Museum featuring more than 150 unrestored signs, Las Vegas. Image © Neon Museum, www.neonmuseum.org Front exterior of the Mint Hotel, Las Vegas / Nevada, circa 1957. Image © University of Nevada, Las Vegas University Libraries. Young Electric Sign Company (YESCO) Collection. Colour-changing neon sign on the façade of the Stardust Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, 1969. Image © University of Nevada, Las Vegas University Libraries. Young Electric Sign Company (YESCO) Collection. La Concha Motel lobby building, designed in 1961, was rescued from demolition and moved to its current location in 2007 to serve as the Neon Museum’s visitors’ center. Architect: Paul Williams. Las Vegas. Image © Neon Museum, www.neonmuseum.org +7

Arquitetas Invisíveis Presents 48 Women Architects: Part 2, In the Shadows

16:00 - 9 March, 2015
Courtesy of Arquitetas Invisíveis
Courtesy of Arquitetas Invisíveis

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. 

Eileen Gray. Courtesy of Christie's Ray and Charles Eames. © Eames Office Lilly Reich. Image via rauminhalt Chartlotte Perriand. Image via The Lost Innocence +17

Where Are the Women? Measuring Progress on Gender in Architecture

00:00 - 3 October, 2014
Courtesy of ACSA
Courtesy of ACSA

Today is American architect Denise Scott Brown’s 83rd birthday. It is no secret that the woman has made an indelible mark on architectural history and has significantly advanced the role of women in architecture, though many would argue that her success hasn’t fully been accredited.  

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.

Happy Birthday Robert Venturi

00:00 - 25 June, 2014
© Denise Scott Brown
© Denise Scott Brown

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). 

AJ's Women in Architecture Survey Reveals Discrimination and a Pronounced Pay Gap

00:00 - 15 January, 2014
Denise Scott-Brown in Las Vegas. Image © Frank Hanswijk
Denise Scott-Brown in Las Vegas. Image © Frank Hanswijk

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.

Denise Scott Brown: A Must-Read Interview

00:00 - 8 January, 2014
Denise Scott Brown outside Las Vegas in 1966; photograph from the Archives of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown. Image © Frank Hanswijk
Denise Scott Brown outside Las Vegas in 1966; photograph from the Archives of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown. Image © Frank Hanswijk

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.

The Indicator: Why 2013 was Denise Scott Brown’s Year

00:00 - 6 January, 2014
Courtesy of Plataforma Arquitectura
Courtesy of Plataforma Arquitectura

A lot of things happened in 2013. Zaha was in the news about every other week. She was copied in China and then accused of designing a giant vagina in Qatar. Rem’s son is producing a documentary about his dad. We lost Prentice Women’s Hospital. We almost lost the American Folk Art Museum. There were a lot of stellar exhibitions and one that took things On the Road. It was the year of high-rise after high-rise, with Rem changing the game yet again by lifting the podium off the ground and sticking to his formal guns, refusing to indulge in curvy shapes. 

Things at Architecture for Humanity were shaken up with the departure of co-founders Cameron Sinclair and Kate Stohr. Resiliency became the new sustainability. China suddenly became defined less for its adventurous architecture and urbanism and more for its darker, smoggier flipside. My hometown, Los Angeles got a few more bike lanes, some big plans for its concrete river, plus a new Bloomberg-esque mayor with attendant sustainability tsar. There were people complaining about architecture and telling us why they left the profession. Kanye got attacked for daring to tell us why he likes architecture, and then architecture loved talking about Kanye for weeks on end until we just wanted architecture to shut up about Kanye. Poor Kanye. There are so many things we could say were key in 2013. It’s been a great year. And there were also a lot of fantastic buildings. 

On Gender, Genius, and Denise Scott Brown

00:00 - 2 November, 2013
Denise Scott Brown outside Las Vegas in 1966; photograph from the Archives of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown. Image © Frank Hanswijk
Denise Scott Brown outside Las Vegas in 1966; photograph from the Archives of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown. Image © Frank Hanswijk

"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

Necessary Hauntings: Why Architecture Must Listen to its Forgotten Women

01:00 - 16 July, 2013

Forgetting Women Architects / KCRW Design & Architecture

00:00 - 25 June, 2013
Image by Tom Morris, March 2012, based on the "We Can Do It!" poster created by J. Howard Miller in 1942 for the U.S. War Production Coordinating Committee, as part of the homefront mobilization campaign during World War II. [Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, via Design Observer
Image by Tom Morris, March 2012, based on the "We Can Do It!" poster created by J. Howard Miller in 1942 for the U.S. War Production Coordinating Committee, as part of the homefront mobilization campaign during World War II. [Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, via Design Observer

Today, KCRW's Design & Architecture will air a podcast on the topic of "Forgetting Women Architects." The show will feature ArchDaily columnist Guy Horton's interview with Denise Scott Brown as well as a conversation based on Despina Stratigakos' fantastic article for Design Observer, "Unforgetting Women Architects: From the Pritzker to Wikipedia." In the article, Stratigakos describes how women continue to be edited out of architecture history and calls for us to "unforget" them by including their stories in online resources such as wikipedia. You can listen to the podcast here. 

AIA Honors Joint Creativity by Revising Gold Medal Award Criteria

00:00 - 20 June, 2013
Perot Museum of Nature and Science designed by the 2013 Gold Medal Award Winner: Thom Mayne of Morphosis
Perot Museum of Nature and Science designed by the 2013 Gold Medal Award Winner: Thom Mayne of Morphosis

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. 

Pritzker Rejects Petition for Denise Scott Brown's Retroactive Award

00:00 - 16 June, 2013
© Frank Hanswijk
© Frank Hanswijk

The Pritzker Prize has finally released their official statement in response to the petition Harvard graduate students Arielle Assouline-Lichten and Caroline James wrote, proposing that Denise Scott Brown retroactively receive recognition for the Pritzker Prize that her husband, Robert Venturi, won in 1991. 

Twitterverse responds to Pritzker's Rejection of Denise Scott Brown Petition

00:00 - 16 June, 2013

We have rounded up some of the reactions to this afternoon's news that Denise Scott Brown would not retroactively receive recognition for the Pritzker Prize that her husband, Robert Venturi, won in 1991.

52 Years Later, A Would-Be Urban Planner Responds to Harvard's Sexist Letter

00:00 - 12 June, 2013
Courtesy of Phyllis Richman. Published June 6, 2013 on The Washington Post.
Courtesy of Phyllis Richman. Published June 6, 2013 on The Washington Post.

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?

More about Richman's letter, and where Denise Scott Brown comes in, after the break...