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.
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About the Author
Aron Vinegar is Assistant Professor in the Department of History of Art at Ohio State University.