Las Vegas, sometimes known as Sin City, is perhaps the most famous desert metropolis where people gamble, and indulge in entertainment, and other vices. Each year, the city is visited by hundreds of millions of tourists who come to see its flashing lights and round-the-clock nightlife. Las Vegas has garnered so much attention that even Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown sought to study its urbanism, concluding with their theories on duck and decorated shed buildings in the early 1970s. But 50 years later, Vegas is still a city that constantly reinvents its architectural identity.
Learning from Las Vegas: The Latest Architecture and News
We are still at the dawn of the Metaverse, the next wave of the Internet. The current “mainstream” Metaverse platforms serve as experimental containers to host the wildest dreams of virtual worlds where we are supposed to unleash the imagination. However, from a spatial design perspective, they have so far been lame and ordinary. Without the constraints in the physical world, how do we draft the urban blueprints in the metaverse? I believe metaverse planners can find inspiration from Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, in which he revealed a poetic and mathematical approach to “urban planning” in the imaginary worlds.
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.
In this essay by the British architect and academic Dr. Timothy Brittain-Catlin, the very notion of British postmodernism—today often referred to as intimately tied to the work of James Stirling and the the thinking of Charles Jencks—is held to the light. Its true origins, he argues, are more historically rooted.
I grew up in a beautiful late Victorian terrace with ornamental brickwork, shaped ‘Dutch’ gables and pretty arts and crafts stained glass windows – and so I didn’t think then, and I don’t think now, that I had much to learn from Las Vegas. It turns out that I wasn’t the only one. Of British architects who made their names as postmodernists in the 1980s, not a single one would say now that they owed much to Robert Venturi, the American architect widely considered to be a grandfather of movement.
Global companies often exploit architectural icons to transform physical form into their desired brand reputations. To help achieve this goal, after twilight, the natural qualities of buildings have often been supplemented by architectural lighting, as the facades call unmistakeably for attention with their colorful and dynamic illumination. Representation has become the leading motivation for upgrading the lighting at headquarters and retail outlets. But when the illumination evolves into spectacular gestures, the brand identity and architecture itself starts to fade. Hence, the struggle for individuality has revived the discussion about ornament – though ornament appears now as light.
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.
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.