Image: Robert Venturi

Robert Venturi

Robert Venturi, born in 1925, American architect and teacher, one of the most influential architectural theorists of the late 20th century. Venturi is credited with initiating a 1960s critique of orthodox modern architecture, which led to the development of postmodernism in the 1970s. His case for an architecture of complexity and contradiction rejected the sterility of corporate modern buildings and encouraged the return of historicism, applied decoration, and overt symbolism in architectural design.

Venturi was born in Philadelphia

Venturi was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and attended Princeton University, where he received a bachelor`s degree in 1947 and a master of fine arts from the architecture school in 1950. After graduation he worked in several architecture firms, including the offices of Oscar Stonorov, Eero Saarinen, and Louis I. Kahn. He won a Rome Prize Fellowship to study at the American Academy in Rome from 1954 to 1956. In 1964 he started an architecture firm in partnership with John Rauch.

Venturi`s first important built works were

Venturi`s first important built works were the Vanna Venturi House in Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania (completed 1964), designed for his mother, and Guild House (1961-1965), an elderly-housing project in north Philadelphia. These witty, controversial buildings were simple in image, complex in plan, and rich in historical allusiona contrast to the functional architecture of the time. Venturi discussed the ideas behind his work in the book "Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture" (1966), setting off a heated debate about form and meaning in architecture.

In 1967

In 1967, Venturi married African-born urban planner and architect Denise Scott Brown, whom he met while teaching at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1960 they had begun collaborating in teaching, research, and professional practice and they coauthored, with architect Steven Izenour, the landmark book "Learning From Las Vegas" (1972). In it they proclaimed the significance of popular culture, commercial vernacular design, and the architecture of the roadside strip as sources for serious architecture.

The firm of Venturi

The firm of Venturi, Rauch, and Scott Brown (later Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates) designed several of the most influential buildings of the 1970s and 1980s. These buildings include Franklin Court in Independence National Historical Park, Philadelphia (1972-1976); the renovation and addition to the Allen Memorial Art Museum in Oberlin, Ohio (1973-1976); Gordon Wu Hall at Princeton University (1980-1983); and the Sainsbury Wing (1986-1991), the controversial addition to the National Gallery in London. The firm won the 1992 competition to design the Whitehall Ferry Terminal in New York City. Venturi has been given numerous honorary degrees and awards, including the 1991 Pritzker Architecture Prize, considered the most prestigious architecture award.

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