Jimmy Venturi's new website...
Oct 11, 05 10:54 am
Oct 11, 05 11:19 am  · 

great video, I think that they are one of the most exiting theorists around, after sooo many eyars we still havent learned from vegas or venturi...

Oct 11, 05 11:21 am  · 

i agree. they don't get enough credit for their vision.

(i'm expecting someone to detract from this position and get a discussion going...)

Oct 11, 05 11:25 am  · 

i heart neon. ;]

Oct 11, 05 11:40 am  · 

Subject: first virtual house of the 20th century
Date: 1998.11.15

The next complete chapter of Learning from Lauf (vague) S. will be entitled “The first virtual house of the 20th century”--here’s the outline:

Virtual anything, including the virtual house, is a hot topic of architecture in the very late 20th century. Eisenman and any/all other recent virtual experimenting architects however, have thus far failed to recognize their true 20th century patriarch on this count.

1972 - Venturi and Rauch - Franklin Court: the ghost frame of Benjamin Franklin’s long gone original home--it’s a pure wireframe, it’s still “not there,” it’s the quintessential virtual house.

November 15, 1998 - anyone that isn’t convinced that Venturi and Rauch’s Franklin Count is the foremost virtual house of this century (if not of all architectural history) need only be reminded that Benjamin Franklin (whose “house” we are discussing here) became famous for writing Experiments and Observations on Electricity (1751), and, moreover, don’t they teach in grade school that Benjamin Franklin actually DISCOVERED ELECTRICITY!

Lao-Tzu say, “If the shoe fits, the foot is forgotten.”
--A Quondam Banquet of Virtual Sachlichkeit: Part I, p. 15

[Perhaps the latest chapter of Learning from Lacunae is "What a lot of architects pretend is not there."]

Oct 11, 05 11:50 am  · 


Oct 12, 05 12:16 am  · 

c+c was earth-shattering at the time, changing the course of architectural history.

learning from las vegas was also amazing, a good follow-up effort, opening up new territory/discussion, and also hugely influential.

but THIS IS STILL WHAT THEY'RE SELLING. which is fine, i guess...

iconography and electronics was a whine-fest, a bid to remain in the spotlight for (admittedly brilliant) work of the past and a poke-in-the-eye to anyone who dares claim to have done anything new since then. i struggled through the whole thing because i kept hoping there would be something redeeming in it. the few things that were interesting were recycled from older writings - and they had been better presented the first time.

Oct 12, 05 8:53 am  · 

After watching the video trailer and seeing Venturi's own take on his marital relationship, I'm not too worried if Bob and/or Denise read page 110 of QBVS 1, that is, if I ever get around to sending them an autographed copy. The package will be addressed to VSBA and the return address will be QBVS.

Maybe Jimmy will like the idea of filming his parents at Ryerss Museum because that place preenacts Venturi Shops. Or maybe film them at Stenton; every modern architect should know Stenton. You know there's an uncanny similarity between the greenhouse at Stenton and the (obscure Venturi and Rauch) 1973 poolhouse design for the Liebs in Penn Valley. Some of the few words Venturi ever said to me are, "I love Stenton!"

Which reminds me, back in 1993 a close friend of mine was moving to New York to open a branch of VSBA. Bob and Denise came to the moving-away party. Soon after their arrival they were admiring the large (6.5' x 10.5') painting on the wall. Finally, Venturi asked aloud, "Is this by someone famous?" To which I immediately replied from across the room, "Yeah. Me." So the question, so the answer. Go figure.

Oct 12, 05 8:57 am  · 

Funny how A View from the Campidoglio is rarely, if ever, remembered. Taken literally (which happens to be the title of the painting that Venturi asked about), the view from the Campidoglio is indeed the Campo Marzio.

[And when it comes to "still what they're selling" "we are all mirrors that have to see ourselves regardless."]

The 8 August anniversary date of Venturi's first arrival at Rome got me thinking. I opened my 1977 Italian study tour journal and it begins:

"August 8, 1977
Fully packed for Rome. Luggage weighs 33 lbs; I weigh 172 lbs. Leaving for New York with $107.00"

We arrived at Rome late 11 August.

Paul Rudolph died 8 August 1997.
Peter Eisenman was born 11 August 1932
Jackson Pollock died 11 August 1956

I was on a train from Florence to Rome that a young American couple told me that Elvis Presley had just died.

Oct 12, 05 9:19 am  · 

view from the campidoglio: have it, read it straight through once in school, and have dipped in occasionally. but it's more of a collection of essays, random notes, and boosterism - along the lines of iconography and electronics - less of a holistic positioning and analysis like c+c and las vegas. it's not so much whether it's remembered, but does it merit similar recognition?

the 4 paragraph piece on the campidoglio, despite having been part of venturi's thesis, seems like a sort of letter-to-the-editor style throwaway piece. it's a curiosity. do you think it had any valuable impact?

Oct 12, 05 9:54 am  · 

knowing that there are a good number of yalies, philadelphians, and ex-philadelphians among the audience, i'm probably taking an unpopular position.

so, a question: venturi's and scott brown's writings have inspired us to think differently about architecture and allowed the development of new directions for design > does this influence represent an improvement in what we've produced; has it allowed for change, but with neither positive or negative connotations; or has it been to the detriment of architectural production since, oh, say, 1966?

Oct 12, 05 10:01 am  · 

I don't happen to judge value by impact, the same way I see "THIS IS STILL WHAT THEY"RE SELLING" as not a valuable gauge either. A View from the Campidoglio is not "more like a collection of essays," it IS a collection of essays, and they do present a holistic positioning and analysis of what VSBA architecture is about.

And then there's the notion of inclusion over exclusion.

"Does it merit similar recognition?" I can't stand questions like that because it suggests a mind with limits already in it.

Oct 12, 05 10:21 am  · 

Gosh Steven, how pedantic can you get?

I can't speak for all the architectural producion since 1966, but the writings of Venturi and Scott Brown have certainly not been detrimental to the architectural production of Venturi, Scott Brown & Associates since 1966.

Oct 12, 05 10:36 am  · 

i didn't consciously exclude 'view' from my first list, it simply doesn't rise to the top when discussing the impact of vsba. it's the 'rarities and b-sides'.

as rv says in the movie, and this trailer, he more-or-less invented the now-universal discussion of context 'god dammit'. he deserves (and gets) recognition for genesis of this discussion. but, as evidenced by the clips in the trailer, their work and their biographies are so intertwined that they can't separate them and they take criticism personally. the more he blows his horn, and the more he complains that he doesn't get enough credit, the less interesting he is.

when i buy a new book by a very smart architect, i want it to be a development from what i read last time and i don't want to be constantly reminded how great that last one was.

vsba are insecure, simultaneously failing to recognize the impact with which they're credited and overvaluing their contributions.

Oct 12, 05 10:40 am  · 

pedantic usually suggests that someone is force-feeding book-learning and exhibiting overly subtle reasoning as a way of showing their knowledge. i actually thought i was responding to aaron's challenge, venturing a big-picture (not-subtle) opinion, and raising a question for discussion.

despite picking on vsba, i haven't called you names or disparaged you, mr. lauf, that not being in the spirit of good discussion.

Oct 12, 05 10:48 am  · 

So we are to judge the merits of VSBA by your (next book) expectations? Please. Perhaps you have a hard time separating your feelings from the belief that everyone else thinks the way you do.

I see VSBA as overall honest about their securities and their insecurities. I find that very pleasingly interesting.

so, a question: does one's thinking change after one has gone from being someone that has read many books to someone that has written books?

Oct 12, 05 10:59 am  · 


well,that is becasue WE HAVENT BOUGHT IT,if we had the suburb might be just a little bit nicer......

Oct 12, 05 11:09 am  · 

perhaps discussion doesn't require that everyone else thinks the way i do. a discussion where i don't hear arguments that cause friction with my own - helping me learn a little - but only personal attacks for having opinions, well, that would be boring.

don't know. does one's thinking change after a reader writes a book? is it relevant? does the writer become a better reader? is the non-writer's point-of-view somehow less valued or is he/she less qualified to critique? i can only assume, from past evidence, that the question pertains to you.

Oct 12, 05 11:14 am  · 

I don't understand your quondam question, quondam. I'll say this though:

as a student of architecture (not currently in the academy, but a student nonetheless) I find it useful to follow the evolution of an author / concept. In this sense, I attribute value to an oeuvre that can teach as much with its position as it can with its shifts in positioning.

Along these lines, Stephen's criticism on the development of vsba's concepts holds validity to me. I don't believe he's directly criticized their position, only the staunchness with which they hold it in the face of changing times. Yes, we're still learning from las vegas, but I would like to think that vsba still is as well...

Oct 12, 05 11:15 am  · 

+q. more of that. why?

Oct 12, 05 11:15 am  · 

and +q, my esteemed collegue...

certainly, if we had, 30 years why haven't they evolved their position to offer insight to the evolving problem? Maybe it's up to the next generation to apply their ideas in the current situation, but they're still kickin'...why not help us out, eh?

Oct 12, 05 11:19 am  · 

they where trying to bring the architect back to where the architecture (or lack there of) really is. I have seen to a few of their buildings, they do consumerism better than the consumerists, and are at the end of the day, they are complex intresting spaces designed by an architect not a developer.
In short, they are struggling with the real questions of today, not designing a signature building for a dance troop from Liuthuania, and then talking about how avantgarde they are (ala starchitect).
Ex: if OMA actually did the politicaly charged work they claim to do wouldnt that be exiting? Venturi has been working on making his theory a reality. That is not say that his stuff doesnt nurt my teeth sometimes. One of the most frustrating experiences I had was in Holland when I went to see a couple of his chair designs, I felt a litttle nauseus.

my .02

Oct 12, 05 11:30 am  · 

Steven, you asked a very leading question that was very narrowly focused. I can't say that the writings of V&SB made me think differently about architecture (having first read Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture while a sophomore in high school 1971-72), rather they just made me think more about architecture. Did the writings of V&SB allow me to go in new directions for design? No, CAD allowed me to go in a new direction for design, and it was CAD that allowed me to redraw Piranesi's Ichnographia Campi Martii which ultimately lead to my thinking regarding St. Helena as architect and reenactionary architecturism. It was Kahn that first lead me to the Campo Marzio, however.

What new direction for design did V&SB allow you?

Oct 12, 05 11:36 am  · 

i like the idea of what you're suggesting, +q. but that would require that the architect get down-n-dirty with retail/commercial architecture.

what would vsba do in that commercial context? best products was a good example. their designs, as well as those of site, were clever.

but they've tended more to bring the commercial to the institution - art museums and concert halls - with alarming results. ultimately they are academics/professionals and they want to do noteworthy projects. they don't want to serve developer interests any more than most architects. their academic position is that the approach/attitudes of the commercial vernacular can be brought to more 'high brow' projects.

i wonder whether they would critique the suburbs or welcome them as a model for further study.

Oct 12, 05 11:43 am  · 

in regard to the 'burbs, probably a bit of has to design the conditions before conditioning the design (tschumi)...

the suburbs are there. j. hutchison once said "embrace the inevitable," before leaving to teach in China. That mindframe may be helpful, rather than the typical denigration of suburban life heard among young architects and archi-students...

Oct 12, 05 11:49 am  · 

Steven the suburbs already ARE a model for further study. That is the point of Learning from Las Vegas (that the condition is the model) and even Remmy's Guide to the City. As much as I hate them they are here to stay for us to think about and to wrestle with.....

Oct 12, 05 11:50 am  · 


my admittedly oversimplified take on what v & sb accomplished early on -

c+c helped break the gospel of modern as part of a linear progression, reintroducing the possibility that all art/design/invention is both linear AND recurring/cyclical. architects once again had permission (so to speak) to look to the past for guidance and inspiration. both good and bad things came of this.

las vegas allowed a fairly insular profession to look beyond itself at what was going on despite them, simultaneously opening up the contemporary vernacular as a source for inspiration in the same way c+c had done for the past. both good and bad things came of this, as well.

Oct 12, 05 11:54 am  · 

why not turn the commercial vernacular back onto itself? that may be what +q is suggesting, not sure...but if these very suburban (read: seemingly pedestrian) design issues were actually attacked by designers / architects and not just money-driven developers, VSBA's concepts would take on a new validity...maybe that's just an interpretation of how to apply their ideas to a similar yet different problem...

Oct 12, 05 11:54 am  · 

a gratuitous post just to have my 200th post!!!!
yay me!

Oct 12, 05 11:55 am  · 

+q- so how would a vsba-influence suburb have been 'nicer'?

Oct 12, 05 11:56 am  · 

isn't this suburb issue extra to the fundamental argument of LfLV?

I thought that was a step further from what it said.???

Oct 12, 05 11:57 am  · 

Steven, now you're just showing your lack of V&SB knowledge. Ever here of "Learning fron Levittown" or the "Signs of Life in America" exhibition?

And speaking of "changing times" what institution and museum is today without it's commercialism?

The Best Showroom, by the way, has just within the last month or so been denuded of its porcelain enamel flower pattern panels. After years of sitting derelict, the building is now slated for demolition. VSBA procured most of the panels for themselves; many are going to museums, and one is going to a good friend of mine.

Are architects insecure about getting down-n-dirty with retail/commercial architecture?

AP, maybe you'll understand my "quondam question" after you've written a few books yourself.

Oct 12, 05 11:58 am  · 

i mean, weren't they going the other direction? as stephen said, commercial to institution...?

Oct 12, 05 11:59 am  · 

Great question Steven!
this is a hard question, that I will give an answer to, but I believe that this is even an ongoing question for ALL OF US to answer.
What Venturi gave was a clear set of design principles that were already at play in the American Strip (Vegas specifically, but anycity USA generally). This is basically what Vitruvius, Palladio, and Corb did too. They did not say how to design (well maybe a little) stuff just gave you the tools of the time on what the issues are.
Developers will not pay attention to these rules, architects can learn these elements, to furhter study.
Lets take for example the Mickey D's they did in Disney World. They used the iconography of the product to create a "dumb box" that communicates far better than in the usual 'burb. They use the vernacular to create a strucutre that tells stories. I have said it before, the acropolis was not that much different.....
Anyway, I gotta work now, but will continue to think about it....

Steven, what do you think?

Oct 12, 05 12:06 pm  · 

quondam- true, i don't hang on their every word. i don't know the 'signs of life' exhibition. but levittown is a far cry from the current suburban landscape of hummers, mcmansions, and gated communities.

Oct 12, 05 12:08 pm  · 

wow quaondam, you are laying it a little thick about your book. We all know you write, you dont have to mentionit every other post. chill out......

Oct 12, 05 12:09 pm  · 

Steven, you're still just oversimplifying. And the whole notion of "being allowed" is what makes me think "how pedantic." Who do you think "allowed" the post-WWII Italian architects "to look to the past for guidance and inspiration" and hence whose built designs influenced the young, pre-C&C Venturi? Likewise, who "allowed" the architects of Las Vegas that V,SB&I learned from?

Are you perhaps still selling the same thing?

Oct 12, 05 12:12 pm  · 

+q., are you suggesting that I'm NOT ALLOWED to lay it on thick? That makes me laugh.

Oct 12, 05 12:16 pm  · 

sure, 'oversimplifying': admitted it as i wrote. it helps me express broad concepts in a smaller number of words.

'allowed' in the sense that there was a homogeneity to the architectural culture that venturi (as well as tom wolfe) effectively skewered. no, it wasn't universal.

truce. out.

Oct 12, 05 12:19 pm  · 

you are allowed, I man you can (and often do) as you please. But I am also ALLOWED to point out that you are lately you showing how much of an ass you can be. We all know you write, if someone asks you a question, answer or dont answer thats up to you, but dont say "maybe you'll understand my "quondam question" after you've written a few books yourself." Doesnt do anything answer the question, or add to the discussion.
Thats just a bit assholish.


Oct 12, 05 12:21 pm  · 

I'm out too. This thing is turning ugly, and is not about a real discussion anymore...

Oct 12, 05 12:22 pm  · 

And yet there is still homogenized thinking and teaching in architecture.

Oct 12, 05 12:24 pm  · 
Louisville Architect

Robert Venturi is a Duck.

Oct 12, 05 1:33 pm  · 

Yeah, and all a brick really wants is to get laid.

When you are at the Campidoglio and looking out at the city of Rome, the part of Rome immediately in the foreground is the Campo Marzio, and this place has been called that since Rome was founded over 2700 years ago. The title A View from the Campidoglio is a clever way of saying “learning from Rome” (and for me, it’s a clever way of keeping in a modern Philadelphia architectural tradition by “learning from the Campo Marzio”).

On page 18 in A View from the Campidoglio is the famous collage architectural rendering of the Venturi & Rauch Football Hall of Fame--a “changing times” updated version of the collage renderings of Mies van der Rohe, and today oft reenacted by MVRDV (to name just one current group of architects furthering the tradition). MDRVD’s Costa Iberica: Upbeat to the Leisure City is a “changing times” updated version (ie, reenactment) of Learning from Las Vegas: The Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form. At least take the time to compare pages 282-83 of Costa Iberica with the cover of Out of the Ordinary. Maybe it’s just coincidence that MVRDV’s DataScape exhibition design is extremely similar to From Rome to Las Vegas: An Exhibit of the Work of Venturi and Rauch at the Philadelphia Art Alliance, 1968 (as pictured in Learning from Las Vegas, page 125, 1st edition, and boy do those collage rendering on page 124 look exactly like MVRDV’s au courant renderings.

Not to be (dis)missed:
The Campidoglio: A Case Study
A Billdingboard Involving Movies, Relics, and Space
Learning from Lutyens
Learning from the Rear
Pop Off
Some Houses of Ill-Repute
Functionalism, Yes, But...
Complexity and Contradiction in the Work of Frank Furness
Plain and Fancy Architecture
Alvar Aalto
A Definition of Architecture as Shelter with Decoration on It, and Another Plea for Symbolism of the Ordinary in Architecture
Learning the Wrong Lessons from the Beaux-Arts
Learning the Right Lessons from the Beaux-Arts
Il Proprio Vocabolario
The RIBA Annual Discourse
Diversity, Relevance and Representation in Historicism, or Plus ca a Plea for Pattern all over Architecture with a Postscript on my Mother’s House

Is calling something “b-side” an example of commercialism creeping into architecture criticism. Hey, as long as it sells, right. Imagine that, the institution of criticism based on commerce and consumerism! Does sinister even know what dexter is doing?

So again, we are all mirrors that have to see ourselves regardless, and that pertains to assholism as well.

Oct 12, 05 3:09 pm  · 
Louisville Architect

Actually I heard that, at Exeter Library, when Kahn asked a brick what it wanted to be, it said, 'Veneer'.

Oct 12, 05 3:16 pm  · 
Louisville Architect

i always dig those "b-side" releases. gives you a glimpse of how someone works to see the stuff that they didn't think fit on the "official" release.

wait, i gotta go see how this fits the discussion...

oh, yeah, ok. yes, keep the product on the shelves, bobby!

Oct 12, 05 3:20 pm  · 

Trust me, no matter what else they say, every brick really just wants to get laid, you know, just like like Louis Kahn himself, who apparently used to frequent the now gone array of small xxx movie houses on Sansom Street (or at least that's what another famous Philadelphia architect told someone who told me over a month ago while eating pizza).

I ask, what does homogeneous mythology want to be?

Oct 12, 05 3:24 pm  · 
Louisville Architect

rereading this thread and considering the tone of each of the posters' comments, the only thing i can come up with is that quondam called himself an asshole. no one else seems to qualify. i'd say that's very self-aware of him. keep looking in the mirror, mr. author.

and in answer to the riddle posed above: is this a reference to strict interpretation of the bible?

Oct 12, 05 3:58 pm  · 

Actually, and not to put too fine a point on it, not per corell, your "Robert Venturi is a Duck" is brilliant, because that's probably what he most doesn't really want him and architecture to be (perceived as). Now, you may continue to qualify me as an asshole. So what? Did you reenact your initial reading of the thread in a-side or b-side tone?

As long as you're still just reading books, you're probably still just a student. Writing books is automatic (self) teaching.

What sphinx in here?
That royal ancient Eqyptian asshole Hot-Shit-Soup.

Oct 12, 05 4:14 pm  · 

And, to put a fine point on it, calling someone an asshole (especially first) in public written word is by default already "a bit assholish."

Oct 12, 05 4:25 pm  · 

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