AD Round Up: Iconic Houses in America

© Robert Ruschak – Western Conservancy

Five great architects, five great houses. This 4th of July, take a look at five of the most iconic houses in the USA. The main image is of a house that redefined the relationship between man, architecture and nature — ’s Fallingwater House. If you’re searching for the meaning of less is more, you must check out the Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House or The Glass House by Philip Johnson. You should also check out one of the first built examples of Postmodern architecture, The Vanna Venturi House by Robert Venturi. Finally, revisit Frank Gehry’s Norton House, known for its eccentric form and eclectic materiality. Which one is your favorite?

Happy 88th Birthday Robert Venturi

© Frank Hanswijk

Robert Venturi, the architectural figurehead who fought the cause for postmodernism, turns 88 today. Venturi, whose 1966 book ‘Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture’ coined the term “less is a bore” – to contradict Mies van der Rohe‘s famous “less is more” – is possibly the most influential of the theorists who worked to steer architecture away from the modernist ethos in which it had become so entrenched.

Not just a theorist, Venturi is equally well known as a designer in his own right; along with his partner Denise Scott Brown (who has been in the headlines a lot herself recently), he founded Venturi Scott Brown Associates, and created a legacy that brought diversity and innovation to the profession of architecture. Despite his recent retirement his influence will continue to be felt for decades to come.

On Robert Venturi’s 88th Birthday, we welcome you to rediscover the buildings – and ideas – which make him one of the most important figures in architecture of the last century:

The Scott Brown Petition & Women’s Role in Architecture

via Plataforma Arquitectura

The petition demanding that architect Denise Scott Brown be retroactively acknowledged as a joint recipient of the 1991 Pritzker Prize has surpassed 12,000 signatures. Notable supporters include past Pritzker Prize recipients Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas and Scott Brown’s own husband and partner of 40 years, Robert Venturi. The success of this Change.org campaign, fueled by two young women of the Harvard GSD‘s Women In Design club, is larger than the one female architect it aims to honor – it is a campaign to rethink the difficult and often unjust position of the woman in architecture.

Read more after the break.

Landmark Preservation Versus Ownership

Vanna Venturi House / ; © Maria Buszek

After years of disconcerting reports that the historic David and Gladys Wright House by Frank Lloyd Wright was under threat of demolition by developers, we announced that a generous benefactor saved it from its fate by providing funds to buy back the property. It seems that this particular story is not unique.  An article on ArchRecord by Frank A. Bernstein lists several other modern architecture treasures that may soon fall under the same threat as they hit the real estate market.

Find out more after the break.

The Indicator: The Pritzker’s Better Half

and , Las Vegas, Strip Message Analysis

There’s been a lot of buzz going around about the Pritzker jury dissing Denise Scott Brown, wife and co-partner to Robert Venturi. Back in 1991 they awarded the prize to Mr. Venturi, singular…not plural to include his better half. Seems they, a different jury, also dissed Wang Shu’s wife and co-partner, Lu Wenyu way back in 2012 by granting the prestigious prize to Mr. Wang without acknowledging who holds up “the other half of the sky”, as they say in Mandarin.

Robert Venturi and Rem Koolhaas Side with Denise Scott Brown on Pritzker Debate

outside Las Vegas in 1966; photograph from the Archives of Robert Venturi and © Frank Hanswijk

Robert Venturi has joined nearly 4,000 advocates in the call to retrospectively acknowledge Denise Scott Brown as a joint Pritzker Prize laureate, stating: “Denise Scott Brown is my inspiring and equal partner.”

His support was then quickly followed by , who stated: “I totally support this action. The fact that one of the most creative and productive partnerships we have ever seen in architecture was separated rather than celebrated by a prize has been an embarrassing injustice which it would be great to undo.”

New updates after the break…

Pritzker Responds To Denise Scott Brown Controversy

© Frank Hanswijk

An intense gender debate has been making headlines after called for Pritzker to “salute the notion of joint creativity” and retrospectively acknowledge her role in Robert Venturi’s 1991 during an AJ Women in Architecture luncheon in late March. Since, nearly 2,000 advocates have passionately rallied in Brown’s support by signing an online petition created by Harvard’s GSD Women in Design Group. Among the signatures include architects Zaha Hadid, Farshid Moussavi and Hani Rashid, along with MoMA senior curator of architecture and design Paola Antonelli, architecture photographer Iwan Baan, Rice School of Architecture dean Sarah Whiting, and Berkeley College of Environmental Design dean Jennifer Wolch. 

Responding to the outrage, Martha Thorne, executive director of Pritzker Prize, promised to “refer this important matter to the current jury at their next meeting”, respectfully pointing out that this presents an “unusual situation” considering each Laureate is chosen annually by a panel of independent jurors who change over the years.

More on the controversy after the break…

Robert Venturi: An Icon Retires; A Firm Rebrands

© Frank Hanswijk

After practicing for over fifty years as one of the world’s most preeminent architects, Robert Venturi, FAIA, has retired. The Philadelphia-based, American architect became known as the father of postmodernism and, together with his wife and partner, , FAIA, he changed how the world perceives architecture with his maxim, “Less is a bore.”

Now, Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, which Venturi co-founded with his wife, has relaunched as VSBA under the new leadership of president and principal Daniel K. McCoubrey, AIA. Together with principal Nancy Rogo Trainer, FAIA, McCoubrey will continue to build under the founders’ values – “bringing creative design, thoughtful analysis, and responsive service” to each client. Meanwhile, Scott Brown will continue publishing and presenting her work.

Continue after the break for more details.

PBS lists Top Ten Buildings that Changed America

Vanna Venturi House / © Maria Buszek

PBS has released their selections of the top ten buildings that have changed the way Americans live, work and play. From ’s 224-year-0ld Virginia State Capitol to Robert Ventui’s postmodern masterpiece the Vanna Venturi House, each building on the list will be featured in a new TV and web production coming to PBS in 2013. Continue after the break to view the top ten influential buildings and let us know your thoughts!

Video: Robert Venturi


In this two part video film maker John Thornton, a.k.a Rusty Scupperton, reconsiders what post-modernism is all about, as made popular by .  Through a series of interview of Venturi’s colleagues and excerpts from the architect himself, Thornton gets a better understanding of the architect’s influence and sense of humor in regards to architecture.

Catch part two after the break!

Architecture City Guide: Columbus

This week our Architecture City Guide is headed to Columbus; Indiana that is. We have already made the trip to Columbus, Ohio. This lesser known Columbus only has a population of 44,000 people, but for what it lacks in size it makes up in architecture. Columbus, perhaps, has more notable modern architecture buildings per capita than any city in the United States. In fact, it was much harder narrowing the list down to 12 projects than finding enough for the city guide. With the buildings not on the list, it will be impossible to please everyone. Notably our list doesn’t even include Romaldo Giurgola’s Columbus East High School, Cesar Pelli’s Commons Centre and Mall, and ’s Republic Newspaper Building. Take a look at the 12 on our list and add your favorites in the comment section below.

The Architecture City Guide: Columbus list and corresponding map after the break.

Interview: Robert Venturi & Denise Scott Brown, by Andrea Tamas

Episcopal Academy Chapel / © Matt Wargo

Back in August 2009, architect Andrea Tamas interviewed Robert Venturi & Denise Scott Brown. Today, we share with you the complete interview. Read it after the break.

AD Classics: Vanna Venturi House / Robert Venturi

© Maria Buszek

Most critics usually regard consistency in architecture an important aspect of the design. However in the Vanna Venturi House took the road less travelled and tested complexity and contradiction in architecture, going against the norm. Located in Chestnut Hill, on a flat site isolated by surrounding trees, Venturi designed and built the house for his mother between 1962 and 1964. In testing his beliefts on complexity and contradition (for which he also wrote the book Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture), Venturi went through six fully worked-out versions of the house which slowly became known as the first example of Postmodern architecture.

More on the Vanna Venturi House after the break.