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History For Sale: Postmodern Vanna Venturi House on the Market

Robert Venturi's Vanna Venturi House is now for sale. According to reports on Curbed, the postmodern home could be yours for just $1.75 million! Said to be one of the top 10 buildings that "changed America," the house was originally designed and built by the Pritzker Prize laureate for his mother in 1964. The home's most recent owner, University of Pennsylvania professor Dr. Thomas P. Hughes passed away February, leaving the historic residence to his daughter who is now selling the home. 

Spotlight: Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown

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

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, 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,

17 Napkin Sketches by Famous Architects

The napkin sketch has always had its place in architecture. Now, some of the world's more respected architects have donated their very own conceptual doodles to the NewSchool and San Diego American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) in an effort that helped raise thousands to fund scholarships and programs for architecture students. 

"The event was a big success,” said David Garcia, a NewSchool architecture undergraduate and fundraising chair for the AIAS event. “Personally, this project means a lot to me, and not just because of the time and involvement, but because this is a nice way to bring students and their favorite architects together, even if it's just through a sketch. Plus, since it's a fundraiser, the proceeds have been a great help to the success of the chapter.”

Take a look at all 17 napkin sketches from Bjarke Ingels, Wolf Prix, Thom Mayne, Robert Venturi, Zaha Hadid and others, after the break. 

Zaha Hadid. Image Courtesy of NewSchool and AIAS San Diego Thom Mayne. Image Courtesy of NewSchool and AIAS San Diego Kurt Hunker. Image Courtesy of NewSchool and AIAS San Diego Massimiliano Fuksas. Image Courtesy of NewSchool and AIAS San Diego

Have you Seen This Forgotten PoMo Jewelry by 1980s Architects?

It's not often that a major design project by a bevy of superstar architects is forgotten to history. But this seems to be what happened in the 1980s, when Italian designer Cleto Munari commissioned a stable of world-famous architects to design a new jewelry collection. The (unashamedly PoMo) results were documented in a now almost forgotten book by Barbara Radice called simply "Jewelry By Architects," which included interviews with each designer. Originally published by Monica Khemsurov of Sight Unseen, this article shows off just some of the contents of this fascinating work.

Until about six months ago, there was only one Munari we idolized: Bruno, one of our favorite 20th-century designers and design theorists. (If you haven’t read Design As Art, we suggest you hop to it!) But then, one fateful day this past spring, we were wandering aimlessly around the internet when we stumbled upon the biggest editorial coup we've scored in years, and thus began our love affair with Cleto Munari. The Italian designer—who, as far as we can tell, is unrelated to Bruno—commissioned a dream-team of architects like Ettore Sottsass and Peter Eisenman in the early ’80s to create a jewelry collection for his eponymous company, and the project had almost no coverage anywhere on the web. After immediately snapping up a copy of the incredible out-of-print book that documented it, which we’re excerpting a small portion of here, we set about doing more research on Munari himself. Turns out he’s a bit of a Sight Unseen patron saint, who dreamed up all kinds of cross-disciplinary projects for the precious metals–focused design brand he founded in the ’70s with Carlo Scarpa. “It is most interesting to me to have a poet design a table, a painter design a credenza, and an architect design a spoon,” Munari told the Huffington Post in an interview two years ago.

Jewelry designed by Arata Isozaki. Image © Rizzoli New York Courtesy of Sight Unseen Jewelry designed by Robert Venturi. Image © Rizzoli New York Courtesy of Sight Unseen Jewelry designed by Arata Isozaki. Image © Rizzoli New York Courtesy of Sight Unseen Jewelry designed by Hans Hollein. Image © Rizzoli New York Courtesy of Sight Unseen

Happy Birthday Robert Venturi

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). 

AD Round Up: Iconic Houses in America

AD Round Up: Iconic Houses in America AD Round Up: Iconic Houses in America AD Round Up: Iconic Houses in America AD Round Up: Iconic Houses in America

Happy 88th Birthday Robert Venturi

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.

The Scott Brown Petition & Women's Role in Architecture

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 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 / Robert Venturi; © Maria Buszek
Vanna Venturi House / Robert Venturi; © 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

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

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 Rem Koolhaas, 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.”

More updates after the break...

Pritzker Responds To Denise Scott Brown Controversy

An intense gender debate has been making headlines after Denise Scott Brown called for Pritzker to “salute the notion of joint creativity” and retrospectively acknowledge her role in Robert Venturi’s 1991 Pritzker Prize 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 Woman 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. 

Denise Scott Brown Demands Recognition from Pritzker

During a speech at the AJ Women in Architecture luncheon in London last week, postmodern icon Denise Scott Brown requested to be acknowledged retrospectively for her role in Robert Venturi’s 1991 Pritzker Prize, describing Pritzker’s inability to acknowledge her involvement as “very sad”.

Although at the time of the award Brown had co-partnered their practice Venturi Scott Brown and Associates for over 22 years and played a critical role in the evolution of architectural theory and design alongside Venturi for the over 30 years, as well as co-authored the transformative 1970’s book Learning from Las Vegas, her role as “wife” seemed to have trumped her role as an equal partner when the Pritzker jury chose to only honor her husband, Venturi.

More information and an online petition after the break...

PBS lists Top Ten Buildings that Changed America

Vanna Venturi House / Robert Venturi © Maria Buszek
Vanna Venturi House / Robert Venturi © Maria Buszek

PBS has released their selections of the top ten buildings that have changed the way Americans live, work and play. From Thomas Jefferson’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!

Architecture City Guide: Columbus

Courtesy of Flickr CC License / sombraala
Courtesy of Flickr CC License / sombraala

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 SOM’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.