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Denise Scott Brown: The Latest Architecture and News

125 Best Architecture Books

Architecture has deep wells of research, thought, and theory that are unseen on the surface of a structure. For practitioners, citizens interested, and students alike, books on architecture offer invaluable context to the profession, be it practical, inspirational, academic, or otherwise. So, for those of you looking to expand your bookshelf (or confirm your own tastes), ArchDaily has gathered a broad list of architectural books that we consider of interest to those in the field.

In compiling this list, we sought out titles from different backgrounds with the aim of revealing divergent cultural contexts. From essays to monographs, urban theory to graphic novels, each of the following either engage directly with or flirt on the edges of architecture.

The books on this list were chosen by our editors, and are categorized loosely by type. Read on to see the books we consider valuable to anyone interested in architecture | Last updated in December 2019.

Denise Scott Brown Receives the Lisbon Triennial-Millennium BCP-Award

Just over two months after the start of the 2019 edition of "The Poetics of Reason", the Lisbon Architecture Triennale and the Millennium BCP Foundation are pleased to announce the winner of the 5th edition of the Lisbon Triennial Millennium BCP Award.
 

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).

Venturi Scott Brown's Sainsbury Wing, National Gallery London Receives AIA 25 Year Award

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has selected Venturi Scott Brown's Sainsbury Wing at the National Gallery of London as the recipient of the 2019 AIA Twenty-five Year Award. Designed by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown in an international competition, AIA commended the project for its ability to “...make its context better than it found it” - a citation borrowed from Venturi himself.

The award is presented annually to a project that has "stood the test of time by embodying architectural excellence for 25 to 35 years."

Denise Scott Brown's Photography from the 1950s and 60s Unveiled in New York and London Galleries

An exhibition has opened at New York’s Carriage Trade Gallery celebrating the photography of Denise Scott Brown, highlighting the significance of pop art in the American vernacular. The project was initiated by Scott Brown, and first exhibited in Venice in 2016, with the latest events in London and New York initiated by PLANE-SITE.

The exhibition, titled “Photographs 1956-1966” is co-curated by Andres Ramirez, with 10 photographs selected, curated, and featured for limited sale. As well as being on display at the Carriage Trade Gallery, a concurrent exhibition is taking place in the Window Galleries at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts, London.

Courtesy of carriage trade, photo: Nicholas Knight. Courtesy of carriage trade, photo: Nicholas Knight. Courtesy of carriage trade, photo: Nicholas Knight. Courtesy of carriage trade, photo: Nicholas Knight. + 24

Robert Venturi and the Difficult Whole: How Architecture's Enfant Terrible Changed Design Forever

This article was originally published on CommonEdge as "Robert Venturi and the Difficult Whole."

Robert Venturi (1925-2018) was the most influential American architect of the last century, though not primarily for his built work, or because of his stature as a designer. He will never stand beside Wright, or Kahn, or even Gehry in that regard. Between 1965 and 1985 he and his collaborator, Denise Scott Brown, changed the way all architects look at buildings, cities, and landscapes, much in the way that Marshall McLuhan, Bob Dylan and Andy Warhol changed our view of art, media, and popular culture during the same period.

I worked with Bob Venturi during my apprenticeship in the 1970s; I also grew up with his books, buildings and paternal influence. He and my father were one year apart; Denise is the same age as my mother.

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

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

This Week in Architecture: What Makes a Place?

It’s well understood that a sense of place is an essential value for people, architecture, and cities. Everyone from designers to planners to city governments speak breathlessly of the power of places to transform cities for the better - but it’s not clear what placemaking really means.

“We Learn From the Ordinary as Well as From the Extraordinary”: Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown

There are so many complexities and contradictions in life in general and architecture in particular. I am writing this intro to an interview I held in 2004 with Robert Venturi and his life-and-architecture partner Denise Scott Brown, while visiting Beijing’s Tsinghua University where I was invited to teach this fall. Was it simply a coincidence when, at the last moment before leaving my New York City apartment I would, almost by chance, grab a 2001 issue of Architecture magazine with Venturi on its cover and his contradictory quote, “I am not now and never have been a postmodernist.

I learned of Venturi's passing last week on my first day of teaching at Tsinghua; the news arrived as I and the students discussed their proposals to improve their campus. In yet another strange coincidence, Venturi and Scott Brown had, just prior to our interview, been working on their own proposal for the very same campus. It was a pleasant and bittersweet surprise then to hear my students speak of freeing up the campus in much the same ways as Venturi's Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture attacked then domineering architecture of minimalism and abstraction over 50 years ago.

His and Scott Brown’s ideas for this campus did not materialize but their analytical and often rebellious thinking greatly influenced how students here and architects all over the world approach architecture. It was Venturi who freed our discipline, it was him who set us all free and encouraged to ask our own questions, to get away from all kinds of dogmas and to provoke ideas of hybridization. What follows is an excerpt from my conversation with the architects at their office in Philadelphia 14 years ago.  

“We Learn From the Ordinary as Well as From the Extraordinary”: Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown “We Learn From the Ordinary as Well as From the Extraordinary”: Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown “We Learn From the Ordinary as Well as From the Extraordinary”: Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown “We Learn From the Ordinary as Well as From the Extraordinary”: Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown + 13

This Week in Architecture: Complexity and Contradiction

Robert Venturi - and the postmodernist movement he helped to form - was occasionally a divisive figure. For hardcore modernists, the referencing of prior styles was an affront to the future-facing architecture they had tried to promote. For traditionalists, the ebullient and kitschy take on classicism was an insult to the elegance of the past.

Sin City Embellishment: Expressive or Kitsch?

Though the Las Vegas Strip may be garish to some, with its borderline intrusive décor and “pseudo-historical” architecture, some professional architects, most notably Robert Venturi and Denise Scott-Brown, have become captivated by the “ornamental-symbolic elements” the buildings present. The two architects developed the curious design distinction between a “duck” and a “decorated shed”, depending on the building’s decorative form. In his essay for 99% Invisible, Lessons from Sin City: The Architecture of “Ducks” versus “Decorated Sheds”, Kurt Kohlstedt explores how the architects implemented their knowledge of ornamentation in their own works and began an architectural debate still ongoing today.

Vanna Venturi House by Robert Venturi featuring playful and non-structural ornamentation. Image via 99 Percent Invisible Longaberger Basket Building image by Barry Haynes (CC BY-SA 3.0). Image via 99 Percent Invisible Guild House by Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates. Image via 99 Percent Invisible “Duck” versus “decorated shed, with Big Duck in Long Island (upper right). Image via 99 Percent Invisible + 5

Denise Scott Brown to Receive the 2018 Soane Medal

Next month, American architect Denise Scott Brown will receive the 2018 Soane Medal, an award given to "architects who have made a major contribution to their field, through their built work, through education, history and theory." A powerhouse jury that included Sir David Chipperfield, Paul Goldberger, Farshid Moussavi, Alice Rawsthorn, Oliver Wainwright selected Scott Brown for the second edition of the award. The 2017 Soane Medal was given to Rafael Moneo.

Sir David Chipperfield, Trustee of Sir John Soane’s Museum, said: ‘The jury considered many outstanding candidates; however Denise Scott Brown stood apart and was the jury’s unanimous choice. Scott Brown’s contribution across architecture, urbanism, theory and education over the last fifty years has been profound and far-reaching. Her example has been an inspiration to many, and we are delighted to honour her with the awarding of the Soane Medal.’

Preservationists and Critics Aim to Save Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego recently released plans to begin demolition on a portion of its La Jolla building designed by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown. Aiming to expand and renovate, the museum is facing mounting criticism from a range of architects, critics and historians. The new plan calls for Venturi Scott Brown's exterior colonnade into Axline Court to be removed, and for the museum's neon-accented entry atrium to be repurposed as a public gathering space. With a part of the colonnade already removed, critics have signed an open letter hoping to save VSB's work.

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. Image © Phillipp Scholz Rittermann Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. Image © Phillipp Scholz Rittermann Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. Image © Phillipp Scholz Rittermann Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. Image © Phillipp Scholz Rittermann + 9

The Often Forgotten Work of Denise Scott Brown

There’s something irresistible about Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown’s architectural romance. They met when they were both young professors at the University of Pennsylvania; Scott Brown held seminars in city planning, and Venturi gave lectures in architectural theory. As the story goes, Scott Brown argued in her first faculty meeting that Frank Furness’ masterful Venetian gothic library should not be torn down to build a plaza (then a dissenting opinion). Venturi approached her after the meeting, offering his support. As Paul Goldberger wrote of the couple in 1971, “as their esthetic viewpoints grew closer and closer, so did their feelings toward each other.” Architecture lovers can’t help but love the architect-lovers.

Love in Las Vegas: 99% Invisible Illuminates Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown’s Postmodern Romance

Which building is better, the duck or the ornamented shed? More importantly, what kind of architecture does the average American prefer? In their landmark 1972 publication Learning From Las Vegas, Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi probed these questions by turning their back on paternalistic modernism in favor of the glowing, overtly kitsch, and symbolic Mecca of the Las Vegas strip. From a chance encounter during a meeting in the Library of Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania and shared trips to the strip to critically shaping a new generation of architects, discover the hidden details of the romance and city that defined postmodernism in this latest episode from 99% Invisible.

Paving the Way: Celebrating a Centenary of Women at London's Architectural Association

This short essay was written by Elizabeth Darling and Lynne Walker, the curators of AA XX 100 a multi-media project celebrating the centenary of women in London's Architectural Association (1917-2017).

Zaha Hadid, Amanda Levete, Patty Hopkins, Denise Scott Brown, and Minnette de Silva are familiar names of women who were products of the Architectural Association School of Architecture (AA). Less familiar are the women who paved the way for the global careers of these architecture superstars.

Established in 2013, the AA XX 100 project was initiated to tell the story of women at the AA, with the aim of commemorating the centenary (this year) of their admission to the school with an exhibition, book, and international conference. When the project began we didn't know the names of the first students but, four years on, we do, and in telling their story—and that of the generations of women who followed them—we see that their history is at once a history of the AA and architectural education, as well as a history of British and world architecture across the 20th and 21st Centuries.