Robert Venturi

Robert Venturi

Robert Charles Venturi, Jr. (born June 25, 1925 in Philadelphia) is an award-winning American architect and founding principal of the firm Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates. Robert Venturi and his wife and partner, Denise Scott Brown, are regarded among the most influential architects of the twentieth century, both through their architecture and planning, and theoretical writings and teaching. Venturi was awarded the Pritzker Prize in Architecture in 1991. He is also known for coining the maxim "Less is a bore" as antidote to Mies van der Rohe's famous modernist dictum "Less is more". Venturi lives in Philadelphia with Scott Brown. They have a son, James Venturi.

Education and Teaching

Venturi attended school at the Episcopal Academy in Merion, Pennsylvania. He graduated "summa cum laude" from Princeton University in 1947 and received his M.F.A. there in 1950. In 1951 he briefly worked under Eero Saarinen in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and later for Louis Kahn in Philadelphia. He was awarded the Rome Prize Fellowship at the American Academy in Rome in 1954, where he studied and toured Europe for two years.

From 1954 to 1965, Venturi held teaching positions at the University of Pennsylvania, where he served as Kahn's teaching assistant, an instructor, and later, as associate professor. It was there, in 1960, that he met fellow faculty member, architect and planner Denise Scott Brown. Venturi taught later at Yale University and was a visiting lecturer with Scott Brown in 2003 at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design.


A controversial critic of the purely functional and spare designs of modern orthodox architecture, Venturi has been considered a counterrevolutionary. He published his "gentle manifesto," "Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture" in 1966, described in the introduction by Vincent Scully to be "probably the most important writing on the making of architecture since Le Corbusier's 'Vers Une Architecture', of 1923." Venturi received a grant from the Graham Foundation in 1965 to aid in its completion. The book has been translated and published in 16 languages.

In 1972, with Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour, Venturi wrote "Learning from Las Vegas: the Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form". The book published studies of the Las Vegas Strip undertaken by a 1970 research and design studio Venturi taught with Scott Brown at Yale's School of Architecture and Planning. "Learning from Las Vegas" was a further rebuke to orthodox modernism and elite architectural tastes. The book coined the terms "Duck" and "Decorated Shed" as applied to opposing architectural building styles.

Architectural Practice

Venturi created the firm Venturi and Short with William Short in 1960. John Rauch replaced Short as partner in 1964, changing the name to Venturi and Rauch. Venturi and Denise Scott Brown were married on July 23, 1967 in Santa Monica, California, and Scott Brown joined the firm as partner in charge of planning in 1969. The firm became known as Venturi, Rauch and Scott Brown in 1980, and, finally, after Rauch's resignation in 1989, Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates. The firm, based in Philadelphia, was awarded the Architecture Firm Award by the American Institute of Architects in 1985. Recent work has included many commissions from academic institutions, including campus planning and university buildings, and civic buildings in London, Toulouse and Japan. Venturi is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

elected works

* Episcopal Academy Chapel; Newtown Square, Pennsylvania (2008)
* Dumbarton Oaks Library, Harvard University; Washington, D.C. (2005)
* Undergraduate Science Building, Life Sciences Institute and Palmer Commons complex, University of Michigan; Ann Arbor, Michigan (2005)
* Biomedical Biological Science Research Building (BBSRB), University of Kentucky; Lexington, Kentucky (2005)
* Baker/Berry Library, Dartmouth College; Hanover, New Hampshire (2002)
* Frist Campus Center, Princeton University; New Jersey (2000)
* Rauner Special Collections Library, Dartmouth College; Hanover, New Hampshire (2000)
* Perelman Quadrangle, University of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia (2000)
* Provincial Capitol Building; Toulouse, France (1999)
* Gonda (Goldschmied) Neurosciences and Genetics Research Center, UCLA; Los Angeles, California (1998)
* Mielparque Nikko Kirifuri Resort; Nikko National Park, Japan (1997)
* Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; San Diego, California (1996)
* Charles P. Stevenson, Jr. Library, Bard College; Annondale-on-Hudson, New York (1994)
* Children's Museum; Houston, Texas (1992)
* Gordon and Virginia MacDonald Medical Research Laboratories, UCLA; Los Angeles, California (1991)
* Sainsbury Wing, National Gallery, London; United Kingdom (1991)
* Seattle Art Museum; Seattle, Washington (1991)
* Restoration of the Fisher Fine Arts Library, University of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia (1991)
* House in East Hampton, Long Island, New York (1990)
* Lewis Thomas Laboratory, Princeton University, New Jersey (1986)
* Gordon Wu Hall; Princeton University, New Jersey (1983)
* House in New Castle, Delaware (1983)
* Coxe-Hayden House and Studio; Block Island, Rhode Island (1981)
* Best Products Catalog Showroom; Langhorne, Pennsylvania (1978)
* Allen Memorial Art Museum modern addition, Oberlin College; Oberlin, Ohio (1976)
* BASCO Showroom; Philadelphia (1976)
* Franklin Court; Philadelphia (1976)
* Brant House; Greenwich, Connecticut (1972)
* Trubek and Wislocki Houses; Nantucket, Massachusetts (1971)
* Fire Station #4; Columbus, Indiana (1968)
* Vanna Venturi House; Philadelphia (1964)
* Guild House; Philadelphia (1964)
* Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, interior renovation (The James B. Duke House); New York (1958)
* Dixwell Fire Station, New Haven, CT; 1972

The Vanna Venturi House in Philadelphia's Chestnut Hill neighborhood, designed for Venturi's mother, was recognized as a "Masterwork of Modern American Architecture" by the United States Postal Service in May 2005.


* Design Mind Award, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Awards; 2007 (with Denise Scott Brown)

* Vincent J. Scully Prize, National Building Museum; 2002 (with Denise Scott Brown)

* Commandeur de L'Ordre des Arts et Lettres, Republique Française, Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication; 2000

* National Medal of Arts, United States Presidential Award; 1992 (with Denise Scott Brown)

* The Pritzker Architecture Prize; 1991

* AIA Twenty-Five Year Award, to the Vanna Venturi House; 1989

* Commendatore of the Order of Merit, Republic of Italy; 1986

* AIA Architecture Firm Award, to Venturi, Rauch and Scott Brown; 1985

* AIA Medal for "Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture"; 1978

* Fellow in the American Institute of Architects, 1978

* Rome Prize, 1956


* "Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture", The Museum of Modern Art Press, New York 1966.
* "Learning from Las Vegas" (with Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour), MIT Press, Cambridge MA, 1972, revised 1977.
* "Iconography and Electronics upon a Generic Architecture : A View from the Drafting Room", MIT Press, 1998.
* "Architecture as Signs and Systems" (with Denise Scott Brown), Harvard University Press, 2004.

External links

* [ "Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, Inc." firm web site]
* [ Robert Venturi biography on the Pritzker Prize web site]
* [ Online profile of Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, Inc.]
* [ The Vanna Venturi House in Philadelphia]
* [ Design Strategies of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown]

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