Architecture as Signs and Systems: For a Mannerist Time / Edition 1

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Overview

Robert Venturi exploded onto the architectural scene in 1966 with a radical call to arms in Complexity and Contradiction. Further accolades and outrage ensued in 1972 when Venturi and Denise Scott Brown (along with Steven Izenour) analyzed the Las Vegas strip as an archetype in Learning from Las Vegas. Now, for the first time, these two observer-designer-theorists turn their iconoclastic vision onto their own remarkable partnership and the rule-breaking architecture it has informed.

The views of Venturi and Scott Brown have influenced architects worldwide for nearly half a century. Pluralism and multiculturalism; symbolism and iconography; popular culture and the everyday landscape; generic building and electronic communication are among the many ideas they have championed. Here, they present both a fascinating retrospective of their life work and a definitive statement of its theoretical underpinnings.

Accessible, informative, and beautifully illustrated, Architecture as Signs and Systems is a must for students of architecture and urban planning, as well as anyone intrigued by these seminal cultural figures. Venturi and Scott Brown have devoted their professional lives to broadening our view of the built world and enlarging the purview of practitioners within it. By looking backward over their own life work, they discover signs and systems that point forward, toward a humane Mannerist architecture for a complex, multicultural society.

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Editorial Reviews

Times Literary Supplement

Architecture as Signs and Systems is based on lectures at Harvard which provided [Venturi and Scott Brown] with the opportunity to reflect on their careers...Their key achievement was to overthrow an arid modernist orthodoxy and to prepare the ground for today's pluralism. They nonetheless profess to remain wedded to a central tenet of modernism, that architecture should be appropriate to its age... But whatever qualifications or disagreements one may have, the Venturis remain among the most refreshing, inspiring, least pompous presences on an architectural scene peopled with prickly egos, whingeing prima donnas and ideologues. Their greatest virtue...is that they genuinely invite open debate on the big issues of architecture and urban design.
— Jules Lubbock

The Independent

[Venturi and Scott Brown's] new book, Architecture as Signs and Systems, is a direct challenge to architecture's increasingly tortuous quest for shapes and spaces that might give new physical meaning to that increasingly diffuse term, modernity...[Their] new polemic is a wonderfully intelligent provocation.
— Jay Merrick

Times Literary Supplement - Jules Lubbock
Architecture as Signs and Systems is based on lectures at Harvard which provided [Venturi and Scott Brown] with the opportunity to reflect on their careers...Their key achievement was to overthrow an arid modernist orthodoxy and to prepare the ground for today's pluralism. They nonetheless profess to remain wedded to a central tenet of modernism, that architecture should be appropriate to its age... But whatever qualifications or disagreements one may have, the Venturis remain among the most refreshing, inspiring, least pompous presences on an architectural scene peopled with prickly egos, whingeing prima donnas and ideologues. Their greatest virtue...is that they genuinely invite open debate on the big issues of architecture and urban design.
The Independent - Jay Merrick
[Venturi and Scott Brown's] new book, Architecture as Signs and Systems, is a direct challenge to architecture's increasingly tortuous quest for shapes and spaces that might give new physical meaning to that increasingly diffuse term, modernity...[Their] new polemic is a wonderfully intelligent provocation.
The Independent
[Venturi and Scott Brown's] new book, Architecture as Signs and Systems, is a direct challenge to architecture's increasingly tortuous quest for shapes and spaces that might give new physical meaning to that increasingly diffuse term, modernity...[Their] new polemic is a wonderfully intelligent provocation.
— Jay Merrick
Times Literary Supplement
Architecture as Signs and Systems is based on lectures at Harvard which provided [Venturi and Scott Brown] with the opportunity to reflect on their careers...Their key achievement was to overthrow an arid modernist orthodoxy and to prepare the ground for today's pluralism. They nonetheless profess to remain wedded to a central tenet of modernism, that architecture should be appropriate to its age... But whatever qualifications or disagreements one may have, the Venturis remain among the most refreshing, inspiring, least pompous presences on an architectural scene peopled with prickly egos, whingeing prima donnas and ideologues. Their greatest virtue...is that they genuinely invite open debate on the big issues of architecture and urban design.
— Jules Lubbock
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Robert Venturi is principal in charge of design in the architectural firm Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates in Philadelphia. He is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the Pritzker Prize and the Centennial Medal of the American Academy in Rome and, with Denise Scott Brown, the National Medal of Art and the Vincent J. Scully Prize of the National Building Museum. He has taught at Yale and the University of Pennsylvania.

Denise Scott Brown is principal in charge of urban and campus planning and design in the architectural firm Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates. She is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the ACSA-AIA Topaz Medallion for Architecture Education and the Chicago Architecture Award. She has taught at Harvard, Yale, UCLA, UC-Berkeley, and the University of Pennsylvania.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown

I. Architecture as Sign rather than Space New Mannerism rather than Old Expressionism
Robert Venturi

1. An Evolution of Ideas

2. Communication and Convention for an Iconographic Architecture

3. Architecture as Sign in the Work of VSBA

4. A New Mannerism, for Architecture as Sign

II. Architecture as Patterns and Systems Learning from Planning
Denise Scott Brown

5. Some Ideas and Their History

6. Activities as Patterns

7. The Redefinition of Functionalism

8. Context in Context

9. Essays in Context

10. Mannerism, because You Can't Follow All the Rules of All the Systems All the Time

Conclusion: Signs and Sytems in a Mannerist Architecture for Today
Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown

Notes

Bibliography

Illustration Credits

Index

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