an architecture of memory lane
Started doing a kind-of review of 2012 yesterday via selectively submitting things I've written here at Archinect to appropriate pages at Quondam. I had no recollection of having started this thread, but seeing it again reminded me that there are some vintage Eisenhower postage stamps in one of the drawers next to me.
Maybe I'll design my own Eisenhower Memorial at Quondam somehow incorporating all the ideas above. Was Eisenhower's presidency more Modernist or more Post-Modernist I wonder? Also, I now wonder if there will ever again be a General to become a US President.
Istanbul saves its silhouette
The view corridors in Philadelphia had nothing to do with the city grid plan. One view corridor was to protect the view of City Hall from the Benjamin Franklin Bridge as one approaches Philadelphia from New Jersey, and the other view corridor was to protect the view of the center city Philadelphia skyline with nothing behind City Hall from I-95 as one approached downtown Philadelphia from the north. At least that's what I have a memory of.
I played a novel role in this proposal--in 1985 I constructed a 3D computer model of center city Philadelphia for the Philadelphia City Planning Commission while I was CAD system manager at the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Fine Arts. The CAD model included the Rouse (developer) Liberty Place towers which were about that time in early construction. The model was indeed used to see what future views of the Philadelphia skyline would look like from any number of different vantage points.
Kazy Varnelis says, "Good riddance, Pritzker"
I imagine it has always been awkward for Venturi when he was (and perhaps still is) given full credit for work that he and others were actually responsible for. I've even been to Scott Brown lectures where work that she presented was afterward still asked by audience members with something like, "Was Venturi trying to do this kind of thing?" or "Is that something Venturi does a lot?" In the other thread I brought up the notion of a "difficult whole," and I think it aptly describes their work, and it describes how they are mostly precieved. They, more than anyone, know what notions of inclusion and exclusion are all about, thus I very much doubt they accepted the 1991 Pritzker affair uncritically.
The reason "Something in the back of my mind tells me that back in (let's say) 1991 the Pritzker board made it clear that they do not offer the prize to more than one individual at a time" is because I have a vague memory of a conversation with two people that worked at VSBA where the Pritzker Prize and the Pritzker rule of one prize only was brought up. This conversation was in 1993 (I remember where it happened), but I can't remember any real specifics. Part of the conversation was also about Venturi and Scott Brown meeting the Queen of England, and when Scott Brown made a concerted effort to be present when Leclerc (sp?) and Mandela received the first Freedom Prize in Philadelphia because she too is a South African.
Learning from Learning from Las Vegas (again)
it's just that the first and revised edition of Learning from Las Vegas are virtually two different books, that's all. Yes, the texts are the same, so both are valid 'readings'. The revised edition is interesting in that it is a redesign by Denise Scott Brown. You can read about the two editions in...
Aron Vinegar, I AM A MONUMENT: On Learning from Las Vegas (2008).
"Learning from Las Vegas, originally published by the MIT Press in 1972, was one of the most influential and controversial architectural books of its era. Forty years later, it remains a perennial bestseller and a definitive theoretical text. Its authors--architects Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, and Steven Izenour--famously used the Las Vegas Strip to argue the virtues of the "ordinary and ugly" above the "heroic and original" qualities of architectural modernism. Learning from Las Vegas not only moved architecture to the center of cultural debates, it changed our ideas about what architecture was and could be. In this provocative rereading of an iconic text, Aron Vinegar argues that to read Learning from Las Vegas only as an exemplary postmodernist text--to understand it, for example, as a call for pastiche or as ironic provocation--is to underestimate its deeper critical and ethical meaning, and to miss the underlying dialectic between skepticism and the ordinary, expression and the deadpan, that runs through the text. Especially revealing is Vinegar's close analysis of the differences between the first 1972 edition, designed for the MIT Press by Muriel Cooper, and the "revised" edition of 1977, which was radically stripped down and largely redesigned by Denise Scott Brown."
classic camp interlude
I read I am a Monument a few years ago, and I remember Scott Brown coming off as an over-control freak. Also, the work exhibited in the first edition was from Venturi and Rauch Architects.
This makes me wonder whether the texts of Learning from Las Vegas are by Scott Brown much more than the two other authors. In looking through both editions recently, it became somewhat easy to pick out the paragraphs written by Venturi--they're usually toward the end of a 'chapter' and deal generally with historical precedents. It might be interesting to sift out the texts that are most obviously Scott Brown versus Venturi. What exactly was Izenour's role in all this?
tammuz x, can you point out some of the 'deep flaws' you find throughout the texts? I'd be very interested in discussing that aspect, because, for all the books notoriety, a lot of the book's 'theories' did not seem to work out as intended.
I was using hyperbole when I said, "I fell in love with the book as soon as I saw the cover." It wasn't Tanya herself but rather the 8th grade memory that her image evoked that attracted the book to me.
And my personally memory, which no one else would normally know about, may well be an indication of just how fluid/transient symbolism actually is. And it might well be the transience of symbolism that Learning from Las Vegas completely missed recognition of.
I just composed four pages on Learning from Las Vegas at Quondam. Among the texts is a review of LfLV from Life magazine a month before LfLV was published. It's an interesting perspective that seems to have paved the way for most of the subsequent interpretations.
One of the last things I wrote in relation to Learning from Las Vegas is from 2008:
"The duck is the special building that is a symbol; the decorated shed is the conventional shelter that applies symbols. We maintain that both types of architecture are valid--Chartres is a duck (although it is a decorated shed as well), and the Palazzo Farnese is a decorated shed--but we think that the duck is seldom relevant today, although it pervades Modern architecture." --Learning from Las Vegas, four years after 1968.
Perhaps the case today is that the duck has become (via media) more relevant (to society), and the decorated shed has become more (true to form) ephemeral. I maintain that both these types of architecture are valid.
Two of the Venturi and Rauch buildings that are most closely related to the 'theories' of Learning from Las Vegas simply no longer exist.
fact check and some truth
On Tuesday, I spoke (on the phone) with Susan S., the PR rep of Venturi Scott Brown & Assoc. She did not know that the big BASCO sign was now gone, and she pretty much assumed Mr. Venturi did not know either. Although this was our first time speaking together, we had a very animated conversation about "commercial" architecture and its fate as something fleeting. Recognition of this phenomenon may be especially easy for baby boomers to see because so many places of memories from the 1950s and 1960s are simply no longer there.
I specifically called to find out if the big BASCO sign's second design--where the red letters were painted yellow and then covered with an overall pattern spelling the word BEST--upon the meager of Basco and Best was also a Venturi office design. It was.
Last night, I re-read what Venturi, Scott Brown and Izenour said about Las Vegas signs in Learning from Las Vegas, and it is as if they unwittingly predicted the fate of their own big sign.