Modern architecture emerged during the late 19th - early 20th century to break away from historical styles and create structures based on functionality and novelty. Regardless of the style's prominence, post-modernist architecture emerged a few decades later as a reaction to modernism's uniformity and formality, adding complexity, asymmetry, and color into architecture.
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.
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.
: staying beautiful or fashionable as time passes : lasting forever : having no beginning or end, eternal. : not affectetd by time : referring or restricted to no particular time : untimely, ill-timed : without time
The Getty Trust is partnering with Pacific Standard Time to present 11 individual exhibitions throughout LA's museums that will explore the history and heritage of the city's modern architecture and its influential designers. As musician, photographer and architectural blogger Moby boasts that "LA has the most diverse architecture of any city on the planet". Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in LA will explore this diversity that covers post World War II architecture through today through specific points of view ranging in architectural style, influence and decade. The exhibitions, which will run from April through July 2013, are a follow-up to last year's Pacific Standard Time: Art in LA, 1945-1980. The focus of the exhibitions will range in scale and cover the monumental and everyday architectural moments that make LA unique. Exhibitions will present iconic modernist homes and cultural landmarks as well as coffee shops, car washes, and the freeways in addition to the un-built architectural fantasies of modernism and post-modernism.