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Editorial Reviews - Learning from Las Vegas From the Publisher Learning from Las Vegas created a healthy controversy on its appearance in 1972, calling for architects to be more receptive to the tastes and values of "common" people and less immodest in their erections of "heroic," self-aggrandizing monuments. This revision includes the full texts of Part I of the original, Editorial Reviews - Learning from Las Vegas From the Publisher Learning from Las Vegas created a healthy controversy on its appearance in 1972, calling for architects to be more receptive to the tastes and values of "common" people and less immodest in their erections of "heroic," self-aggrandizing monuments. This revision includes the full texts of Part I of the original, on the Las Vegas strip, and Part II, "Ugly and Ordinary Architecture, or the Decorated Shed," a generalization from the findings of the first part on symbolism in architecture and the iconography of urban sprawl. (The final part of the first edition, on the architectural work of the firm Venturi and Rauch, is not included in the revision.) The new paperback edition has a smaller format, fewer pictures, and a considerably lower price than the original. There are an added preface by Scott Brown and a bibliography of writings by the members of Venturi and Rauch and about the firm's work. Synopsis Learning from Las Vegas created a healthy controversy on its appearance in 1972, calling for architects to be more receptive to the tastes and values of "common" people and less immodest in their erections of "heroic," self-aggrandizing monuments. This revision includes the full texts of Part I of the original, on the Las Vegas strip, and Part II, "Ugly and Ordinary Architecture, or the Decorated Shed," a generalization from the findings of the first part on symbolism in architecture and the iconography of urban sprawl. (The final part of the first edition, on the architectural work of the firm Venturi and Rauch, is not included in the revision.) The new paperback edition has a smaller format, fewer pictures, and a considerably lower price than the original. There are an added preface by Scott Brown and a bibliography of writings by the members of Venturi and Rauch and about the firm's work. About Author: Biography Steven Izenour (1940-2001)


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Editorial Reviews - Learning from Las Vegas From the Publisher Learning from Las Vegas created a healthy controversy on its appearance in 1972, calling for architects to be more receptive to the tastes and values of "common" people and less immodest in their erections of "heroic," self-aggrandizing monuments. This revision includes the full texts of Part I of the original, Editorial Reviews - Learning from Las Vegas From the Publisher Learning from Las Vegas created a healthy controversy on its appearance in 1972, calling for architects to be more receptive to the tastes and values of "common" people and less immodest in their erections of "heroic," self-aggrandizing monuments. This revision includes the full texts of Part I of the original, on the Las Vegas strip, and Part II, "Ugly and Ordinary Architecture, or the Decorated Shed," a generalization from the findings of the first part on symbolism in architecture and the iconography of urban sprawl. (The final part of the first edition, on the architectural work of the firm Venturi and Rauch, is not included in the revision.) The new paperback edition has a smaller format, fewer pictures, and a considerably lower price than the original. There are an added preface by Scott Brown and a bibliography of writings by the members of Venturi and Rauch and about the firm's work. Synopsis Learning from Las Vegas created a healthy controversy on its appearance in 1972, calling for architects to be more receptive to the tastes and values of "common" people and less immodest in their erections of "heroic," self-aggrandizing monuments. This revision includes the full texts of Part I of the original, on the Las Vegas strip, and Part II, "Ugly and Ordinary Architecture, or the Decorated Shed," a generalization from the findings of the first part on symbolism in architecture and the iconography of urban sprawl. (The final part of the first edition, on the architectural work of the firm Venturi and Rauch, is not included in the revision.) The new paperback edition has a smaller format, fewer pictures, and a considerably lower price than the original. There are an added preface by Scott Brown and a bibliography of writings by the members of Venturi and Rauch and about the firm's work. About Author: Biography Steven Izenour (1940-2001)

30 review for Learning from Las Vegas: The Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jimmy

    Venturi has undoubtedly become the black sheep of late twentieth-century architecture. This book is part of the reason why. It's a rather bold, almost crass statement about the askew focus of Modern architecture. He compares Rome to Las Vegas, not to mention the fact that he introduced postmodern irony into architectural perspectives, which the classicists and the moderns probably weren't too thrilled about. His symbolical relativism more or less diminishes every formal masterpiece ever construc Venturi has undoubtedly become the black sheep of late twentieth-century architecture. This book is part of the reason why. It's a rather bold, almost crass statement about the askew focus of Modern architecture. He compares Rome to Las Vegas, not to mention the fact that he introduced postmodern irony into architectural perspectives, which the classicists and the moderns probably weren't too thrilled about. His symbolical relativism more or less diminishes every formal masterpiece ever constructed, and he praises Las Vegas for being the ideal architectural environment for efficiently accommodating urban automobile culture. Social concern, in the context of city planning is completely absent from this text. In a way, Venturi's text is written by that of a complete postmodern provocateur, single-handedly justifying ugliness in architecture "after modernism". Signs are important in Venturi and Brown's (his wife Denise Scott Brown) study of Las Vegas architecture. Billboards, or those big flashy neon signs that sin city is so well known for function as symbolic representations of what a particular building or structure is trying to say. Ugliness is efficient here because it represents the point of the value of the building; what it does, what is sold within, what people go to this building for. Venturi calls for the ordinary over the beautiful in approaches to a new architecture because he feels that the time period calls for it. He expresses it somewhat well in the following passage. "Why do we uphold the symbolism of the ordinary via the decorated shed over the symbolism of the heroic via the sculptural duck? Because this is not the time and ours is not the environment for heroic communication through pure architecture. Each medium has its day, and the rhetorical environmental statements of our time-civic, commercial,or residential-will come from media more purely symbolic, perhaps less static and more adaptable to the scale of our environment. The iconography and mixed media of roadside commercial architecture will point the way, if we will look." And indeed we have. I suppose that eyesores are eyesores for a reason. Venturi's text is certainly influential, even if it is dated. Frederic Jameson, a thinker bound to confuse readers about what Venturi was actually trying to say more than anyone else, was enormously influenced by him. We can also see in this sort of reasoning that attempt to bridge the gap between high and low art that has become so typical of the postmodern sensibility. The specter of Adorno certainly lingers. But maybe Venturi was onto something a little more useful than his postmodern contemporaries, something a little more important than a bunch of neo-marxist theorizing and empty talk about cultural hegemony. It seems to me that he was merely attempting to show people how to reevaluate ugliness with a sympathetic eye. This book is full of suggestions, and to me the most important when in an architectural sense was to see the metaphorical or symbolical value of these structures and their usefulness. The book's ideas are unquestionably dated, but its relevance and revolutionary value should not be taken for granted.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Em "Reacher"

    Goodreads.com lists the sole author of Learning from Las Vegas as Robert Venturi but, in fact, it was co-authored with Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour. Don't be surprised if Jack Reacher suddenly shows up at the goodreads.com headquarters and sees that justice is served in the name of the overlooked authors. Consider this a firm premonition. Goodreads.com lists the sole author of Learning from Las Vegas as Robert Venturi but, in fact, it was co-authored with Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour. Don't be surprised if Jack Reacher suddenly shows up at the goodreads.com headquarters and sees that justice is served in the name of the overlooked authors. Consider this a firm premonition.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    File under: Very important for its time. Which means both that the best parts of Venturi's argument have been incorporated into the conversation as a whole, and one hopes that the worst parts were left in the '70s and '80s, but maybe I'm not so sure. Many of the arguments about liberation of common taste and contradiction are fair. Many came off as capitalist bullshit that conflates profitability and democracy, and on a more practical plane, left a lot of hideous, impractical architecture – the b File under: Very important for its time. Which means both that the best parts of Venturi's argument have been incorporated into the conversation as a whole, and one hopes that the worst parts were left in the '70s and '80s, but maybe I'm not so sure. Many of the arguments about liberation of common taste and contradiction are fair. Many came off as capitalist bullshit that conflates profitability and democracy, and on a more practical plane, left a lot of hideous, impractical architecture – the built-environment equivalent of a Geocities page – in its wake. If anything, Venturi should be remember as the chief theorist of the McMansion. Sure, modernism needed to be problematized, but books like this are further evidence that a lot of what was heralded as “postmodernism” (meaningless term, really) are better thought of as provocations than theoretical bases.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    Learning from Las Vegas worked for me in much the same way that Towards a New Architecture didn’t. The authors effectively pick apart numerous shortcomings in Modernism – the pretense of architecture based on functionality being objectively and immutably correct, the pointless rejection of the usefulness of ornamentation, the arrogance of heroic architecture that was supposed to actualize the architect’s progressive ideals but, of course, didn’t. My favorite critique may have been this one (whic Learning from Las Vegas worked for me in much the same way that Towards a New Architecture didn’t. The authors effectively pick apart numerous shortcomings in Modernism – the pretense of architecture based on functionality being objectively and immutably correct, the pointless rejection of the usefulness of ornamentation, the arrogance of heroic architecture that was supposed to actualize the architect’s progressive ideals but, of course, didn’t. My favorite critique may have been this one (which, frankly, I ought to remember): “In dismissing Levittown, Modern architects, who have characteristically promoted the role of the social sciences in architecture, reject whole sets of dominant social patterns because they do not like the architectural consequences of those patterns.… As Experts with Ideals, who pay lip service to the social sciences, they build for Man rather than for people—this means, to suit themselves, that is, to suit their own particular upper-middle-class values, which they assign to everyone.” I think I may have liked this book because it jibed so well with my own sensibilities – it’s ironic (even lighthearted), nostalgic, and egalitarian. It wants to be realistic in a world where architects can be fantasists. It recognizes the necessity in building for people as they are, not imagining people as we want them to be. And it asks you to question whether you’re really smarter than everybody else. There were parts that didn’t sit well with me. It seems like a cop-out to ignore the social and environmental consequences of the architecture they’re promoting, abrogating their own ethical responsibility in the name of populism. Sure, car culture is dominant, but it’s worthwhile to evaluate whether that dominance should be reinforced or opposed in future development. And it seems to overlook the idea of beauty as a noble end worth pursuing; the very element of delight that they claim the Modernists forgot about. Surely there’s a middle ground between the architect as Übermensch and the architect as blank vessel, and between glass-and-steel box and brick box. And, unsurprisingly, sometimes the authors come across as a bit too intellectual for their own good. But with those caveats, I think there’s a lot of value here, bringing back a bit of what was lost when the Modernists threw out the bathwater, the baby, and the bathtub. I think this one will stick with my for a while.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Erik Carter

    Essential book 4 dezigners. Not sure if I like it more than "Complexity and Contradiction" but it's still pretty great. Essential book 4 dezigners. Not sure if I like it more than "Complexity and Contradiction" but it's still pretty great.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Claudia

    I was disappointed. Some of this disappointment is practical; in trying to save money on this edition, they went too far, and shrank the illustrations too much, to the point where I genuinely can't see what's going on in many of them (several pages have multiple, tiny b&w photos on them, with crappy contrast). And some of my disappointment may come from familiarity with many of the authors' basic arguments--they're not new to me, which isn't really this book's fault (then again, I did not have t I was disappointed. Some of this disappointment is practical; in trying to save money on this edition, they went too far, and shrank the illustrations too much, to the point where I genuinely can't see what's going on in many of them (several pages have multiple, tiny b&w photos on them, with crappy contrast). And some of my disappointment may come from familiarity with many of the authors' basic arguments--they're not new to me, which isn't really this book's fault (then again, I did not have that reaction when I recently read Jane Jacobs' The Death and Life of Great American Cities, and I'm well acquainted with her ideas). But really, much of this just seemed boring and superficial. Indeed, I showed an illustration to my husband, and when he read the paragraph he said, "Well, that's really stating the obvious, isn't it?" And I couldn't argue.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Llewellyn

    Had to read this for my Theories of Popular Culture class for English. The best thing about this book are the old photos of the now "Old" Las Vegas Strip. I especially enjoyed comparing the aerial photos of the 1979 Strip to modern day Google Map and Wiki images. Venturi's duck and decorated shed were also fun to learn about and our teacher encouraged us to examine our own city for similar architectural theory. I learned a lot. Had to read this for my Theories of Popular Culture class for English. The best thing about this book are the old photos of the now "Old" Las Vegas Strip. I especially enjoyed comparing the aerial photos of the 1979 Strip to modern day Google Map and Wiki images. Venturi's duck and decorated shed were also fun to learn about and our teacher encouraged us to examine our own city for similar architectural theory. I learned a lot.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Fred

    Truly brilliant and epochal theory/criticism from a guy who, in the end, like so many brilliant theoreticians, turned out to be a crap architect himself.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    I still think about this one all the time, years later.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Gaetano Venezia

    Postmodernism of and for the Masses? Learning from Las Vegas*—a seminal text of postmodern art and theory—feels less postmodern, artistic, and academic the more you read. It reads instead as a practical guide for how to assess an urban environment using the perspective of its ordinary inhabitants. Venturi, Brown, and Izenour take post-WWII America as their target urban environment, with the Las Vegas Strip being the primary example of the elements they are interested in. The focus on Las Vegas is Postmodernism of and for the Masses? Learning from Las Vegas*—a seminal text of postmodern art and theory—feels less postmodern, artistic, and academic the more you read. It reads instead as a practical guide for how to assess an urban environment using the perspective of its ordinary inhabitants. Venturi, Brown, and Izenour take post-WWII America as their target urban environment, with the Las Vegas Strip being the primary example of the elements they are interested in. The focus on Las Vegas is not so much an analysis of a singular, exotic place, but rather an analysis of “the archetype of the commercial strip, the phenomenon at its purest and most intense.” (ix). The learnings from Las Vegas are to be applied across the cultural landscape of America, even in non-commercial areas. In the first third of the book, Venturi, Brown, and Izenour use this pragmatic method‡ to describe the commercial function of the Strip’s building and signs, so that Venturi, Brown, and Izenour can apply these findings to architectural theory and their own projects. Indeed, the second part compares this newly compiled set of values and symbols to the reigning theory of Bauhaus Modernism / International Style. Finally, the third part of the book uses their findings to analyze case studies of their own projects—buildings, signs, transportation infrastructure, and city planning. Is It Even Postmodern? Learning from Las Vegas surprisingly avoids two of the pitfalls of mainstream postmodernism: cynicism and over-theorizing. Perhaps the chief distinction between most postmodern theory and Learning from Las Vegas is the first word of the title. Venturi, Brown, and Izenour set out to learn from the ways in which consumerist, post-Modern/Romantic society has adapted buildings and symbolism for the technology of the day—especially cars and mass market goods. While they recognize America's fragmented, seemingly contradictory mix of styles, they don’t get caught up in pessimistic critique. They want to learn and then help ordinary folk. In contrast, most postmodernists retreat from humanistic or practical progress in favor of caustic criticism and armchair lamentations about the impossibility of action. Such postmodernists would decry the “poor” tastes of Las Vegas tourists, low-class aspirational DIY decorators, or lovers of suburban neoclassical eclecticism. Venturi, Brown, and Izenour don’t. They take an explicitly pragmatic approach to architecture and design. It is a bottom-up disposition that never rejects the revealed preferences of ordinary people. Indeed, Venturi has remarked more generally that the main lesson of their research and projects is to “acknowledg[e] the plurality of American life and cultures and accommodat[e] to them” ("American Architecture Now” (Youtube)). Granted, theory remains an important part of Venturi, Brown, and Izenour’s process, but only so long as theory is in service of what the community context calls for. Reflecting on Learning from Las Vegas, Venturi has said that the aim is to strike a balance between theory and practice, description and prescription, between love and hate for their subjects, tolerance and criticism ("American Architecture Now” (Youtube)). What Even Is Postmodernism? Given Learning from Las Vegas’s contradictions with postmodernism, what should we make of the fact that it is widely regarded as a key postmodern text? Perhaps the answer concerns how one defines postmodernism. Postmodernism is notoriously difficult to define, but consider two popular approaches to defining it: One is to argue for a singular movement with various elements; another is to argue for a collection of movements that have no necessary relation to one another. Considering Learning from Las Vegas in light of these approaches, it either represents an actual point of departure from a singular postmodernism or simply adds to the complexity of postmodernism as a collection. Indeed, there’s some indication that Venturi, Brown, and Izenour might have explicitly rejected a unifying notion of postmodernism and the conspicuously consistent postmodern style that many architect’s adopted. Venturi in particular criticized much of postmodern architecture for following some of the same ideological, dogmatic paths as the Modernist movement they were supposedly rebelling against ("American Architecture Now” (Youtube)). Or in the vernacular of Learning from Las Vegas, much of postmodern architecture tries to be "heroic and original" when the whole point of the book is to argue that the "ordinary and ugly" is more appropriate for most contexts. Another surprise is that Venturi, Brown, and Izenour’s own architecture (seen in part three of the book) doesn’t actually look all that “postmodern" (example apt. building). Most postmodern architecture looks obnoxious, sculptural, blatantly ironic—directly mimicking Disneyland and the Strip. But Venturi, Brown, and Izenour’s architecture looks very ordinary with no-nonsense nods towards Eclecticism, anachronism, or sculptural form only when the context and community requests or values such symbols and functions. While Learning from Las Vegas is obviously within the western tradition of Modernism and postmodernism, the actual content and propositions of the book often exceed the historical influence of Modernism and postmodernism. Indeed, they might have anticipated the non-idealistic, non-ironic, more practical contemporary concern with the “context” and “complexity” of urban space. Venturi, Brown, and Izenour’s emphasis on accommodating the cultural context reminds me of the architecture reviews that I’ve read over the last decade (granted, I’m just a lay person interested in architecture). Much like Modernism's "function and form" or postmodernism's "irony and meta-commentary" have been enmeshed in architectural discourse of the last century, context has been integral to contemporary reviews (even if most reviews are of buildings for the ultra-wealthy). Likewise, urban studies is all about the everyday human impact of urban development projects. So Learning from Las Vegas serves not only as a touchstone in the history of Modernism and postmodernism, but also as a precursor for trends that have continued on past these movements/time periods. I don’t want to completely dismiss the anti-postmodern narrative, though. Learning from Las Vegas does have distinctive postmodern themes like acceptance of plurality, criticism of pure architecture and the Modern attempt to unify architectural design, welcoming a mixing of “high” and “low” culture, and an acceptance and deliberate use of irony. Thus, insofar as postmodernism is a collection of movements, Learning from Las Vegas still qualifies for inclusion, but it would make for a peculiar poster child. And at the very least, if Learning from Las Vegas doesn’t live up to its postmodern hype, it has had a lasting impact and deserves recognition as a seminal architecture and urban studies text. ——— * I highly recommend the "heroic and original" reprint by MIT. This version has added importance for the design world and makes for easier viewing of the many pictures and visuals in the book. Plus, I like the added irony that the "heroic and original" is exactly what this book is against. ‡ Venturi, Brown, and Izenour's pragmatic, humanistic approach calls to mind the American Pragmatist philosopher and social progressive John Dewey, who cared chiefly about what achieved the goals of a community rather than trying to deduce and meet the metaphysics of ideal Man. Dewey also shares with Venturi, Brown, and Izenour a rejection of metanarratives and the Modern, overly-aspirational account of Man, while avoiding the cynical inaction of most postmodernists. Building on Dewey’s ideas, Richard Rorty claimed that the chief ethical, humanistic concern of pragmatists or post-Modernists is reduction of cruelty and suffering in the community under consideration (See Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity). Just as suffering will look different for the poor in inner-city housing projects and rural farmland, so will the challenges and needs of architecture and symbolism.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Anima

    A book that beautifully presents Las Vegas' tangible architectural elements and gives us insightful views of the overall display of rigid shapes ranging from an outward to an inward perspective. I loved the inclusion of the Eliot's "East Coker" into Las Vegas'architectural design.(a poem about the cycle of life from birth to return-‘In my beginning is my end.’ - a poem touched by insights of the Ecclesiastes) “perhaps a fitting requiem for the irrelevant works of Art that are today’s descendants A book that beautifully presents Las Vegas' tangible architectural elements and gives us insightful views of the overall display of rigid shapes ranging from an outward to an inward perspective. I loved the inclusion of the Eliot's "East Coker" into Las Vegas'architectural design.(a poem about the cycle of life from birth to return-‘In my beginning is my end.’ - a poem touched by insights of the Ecclesiastes) “perhaps a fitting requiem for the irrelevant works of Art that are today’s descendants of a once meaningful Modern architecture are Eliot’s line in “East Coker” 'That was a way of putting it—not very satisfactory A periphrastic study in a worn-out poetical fashion, Leaving one still with the intolerable wrestle With words and meanings. The poetry does not matter' ...'” § LAS VEGAS LIGHTING "The gambling room is always very dark; the patio, always very bright. But both are enclosed: The former has no windows, and the latter is open only to the sky. The combination of darkness and enclosure of the gambling room and its subspaces makes for privacy, protection, concentration, and control. The intricate maze under the low ceiling never connects with outside light or outside space. This disorients the occupant in space and time. One loses track of where one is and when it is. Time is limitless, because the light of noon and midnight are exactly the same. Space is limitless, because the artificial light obscures rather than defines its boundaries (Fig. 51). Light is not used to define space. Walls and ceilings do not serve as reflective surfaces for light but ~re made absorbent and dark. Space is enclosed but limitless, because its edges are dark. Light sources, chandeliers, and the glowing, jukebox~- like gambling machines themselves are independent of walls and ceilings. The lighting is antiarchitectural. Illuminated baldacchini, more than in all Rome, hover over tables in the limitless shadowy restaurant at the Sahara Hotel"

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Venturi et al. challenge the tenets core to the school of Modernist thinking - expressionism, form, space. In classic fashion, Venturi puts forth the contradiction prevalent to those who idolize meaning deriving from form; Modern architecture is susceptible to its own criticism of the “ugly & ordinary” vis a vis the design of “dead ducks”. Symbol, ornament have a renewed significance. Reading this book you’ll face the the central question posed in the last paragraph : is decoration meant to be c Venturi et al. challenge the tenets core to the school of Modernist thinking - expressionism, form, space. In classic fashion, Venturi puts forth the contradiction prevalent to those who idolize meaning deriving from form; Modern architecture is susceptible to its own criticism of the “ugly & ordinary” vis a vis the design of “dead ducks”. Symbol, ornament have a renewed significance. Reading this book you’ll face the the central question posed in the last paragraph : is decoration meant to be constructed or is construction meant to be decorated. This piece will have a special place in my mind. From when I was born to the age of 10, I frequently went by the Guild House. I dismissed it as a mundane old building for old people. I became vaguely aware of its architectural fame (or notoriety) by my mom on my way to school. She criticized it and remarked on how lame it was as a building. My mom was schooled in the Modern design tradition. Her teachers were a mix of Bauhaus trained and students of Kahn. Despite her valid criticism my view of Guild House after reading this book is appreciative for its place in the urban sprawl of Philadelphia.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Chris Dailey

    Post-modern manifesto that critiques the Modern movement for being staid and out of touch with the fundamental duty of architects -- to build useful buildings. Focusing on the Ugly and Ordinary over the Heroic and Original, the authors praise marginal advancements and building on the 10,000 year history of human architecture over the revolutionary idealism that dominated the first half of the 20th century. They contend that symbolism and context should be used rather relying on "pure' architectu Post-modern manifesto that critiques the Modern movement for being staid and out of touch with the fundamental duty of architects -- to build useful buildings. Focusing on the Ugly and Ordinary over the Heroic and Original, the authors praise marginal advancements and building on the 10,000 year history of human architecture over the revolutionary idealism that dominated the first half of the 20th century. They contend that symbolism and context should be used rather relying on "pure' architecture of form and space...and you should always considering your audience and client. Short but academic, it's worth a read if your interested in the subject and want to dive into source materials.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Galloway

    I read the MIT Press version, which was—of a bit awkwardly designed—at least gave plenty of space for the illustrations and photographs, especially of the practical examples in the last section, which I enjoyed the most. I think I like Denise Scott Brown’s work more than Robert’s—his is so theoretical and “in its own head” (ducks and sheds)—where I saw hers as more practical, particularly the urban layout for California City, where I saw the organizing principles for Las Vegas actually put to wor I read the MIT Press version, which was—of a bit awkwardly designed—at least gave plenty of space for the illustrations and photographs, especially of the practical examples in the last section, which I enjoyed the most. I think I like Denise Scott Brown’s work more than Robert’s—his is so theoretical and “in its own head” (ducks and sheds)—where I saw hers as more practical, particularly the urban layout for California City, where I saw the organizing principles for Las Vegas actually put to work in a wise, methodical manner that would actually grow with the town.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Too academic for me. Read because I so much enjoyed The Strip: Las Vegas and the Architecture of the American Dream and that referenced this often, but it turns out that this isn't for an auto-didact with no formal background.... Too academic for me. Read because I so much enjoyed The Strip: Las Vegas and the Architecture of the American Dream and that referenced this often, but it turns out that this isn't for an auto-didact with no formal background....

  16. 5 out of 5

    Adam Coenraads

    3.5 stars. It's a book that would be very helpful to someone studying architecture/architectural history. The concept of "the duck, and the decorated shed" are fundamental yet quite interesting. The illustrations and tables are very 60s polsci though and gave me plenty of flashbacks. Quite interesting. 3.5 stars. It's a book that would be very helpful to someone studying architecture/architectural history. The concept of "the duck, and the decorated shed" are fundamental yet quite interesting. The illustrations and tables are very 60s polsci though and gave me plenty of flashbacks. Quite interesting.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Faisal Alhumaidi

    To image is to Reevaluate modernity and it's imagery, it emphasize the necessity of ornaments and symbolism that modern architecture rejected. It humbles down the architect's role at the end to compromise their formal expressions and highly technical engineering aspirations for solving current social problems. To image is to Reevaluate modernity and it's imagery, it emphasize the necessity of ornaments and symbolism that modern architecture rejected. It humbles down the architect's role at the end to compromise their formal expressions and highly technical engineering aspirations for solving current social problems.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sandro

    Venturi, Scott Brown, and Izenour's fight for 'the ugly and the ordinary' is just admirable. Their arguments are crystal clear, I personally find it hard not to agree with them, and the debate is still relevant today. An eye-opening book, and I very much enjoyed reading this. Venturi, Scott Brown, and Izenour's fight for 'the ugly and the ordinary' is just admirable. Their arguments are crystal clear, I personally find it hard not to agree with them, and the debate is still relevant today. An eye-opening book, and I very much enjoyed reading this.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Josh Fogelson

    Outdated by today's standards, too academic and unenlightening to be worth the read. Historically significant I was told Outdated by today's standards, too academic and unenlightening to be worth the read. Historically significant I was told

  20. 4 out of 5

    S.

    Post Modernist approach to symbols... Consumerism seal !

  21. 4 out of 5

    Marisa Wilson

    Interesting but unnecessarily dense.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cheah Ee Von

    A peculiar site analysis that focuses on everyday non-architecture.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    Read this book last year, Loved it!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ro Ullrich

    While stating the obvious, Venturi captivates the post modern mentality. A world shaped by what we worship is a world that we will inhabit gleefully. Capitalism and comfort born as sign posts and ducks, I willingly will step foot into Las Vegas with a new appreciation for the tackiness of Caesars.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Meg

    the course i reference in my review of HJ Kunstler's "The Geography of Nowhere" is the same course in which this text was taught. but since the course was a mere 1.0 credit and there wasn't a lot of time to discuss all of the texts, we mostly looked at this book and it's pictures. which brings me to the great part about this book: there are a lot of pictures and a large assortment of type. there are blueprints, photographs, diagrams, drawings, diagrams imposed on drawings, post-cards on top of st the course i reference in my review of HJ Kunstler's "The Geography of Nowhere" is the same course in which this text was taught. but since the course was a mere 1.0 credit and there wasn't a lot of time to discuss all of the texts, we mostly looked at this book and it's pictures. which brings me to the great part about this book: there are a lot of pictures and a large assortment of type. there are blueprints, photographs, diagrams, drawings, diagrams imposed on drawings, post-cards on top of street-level-planning maps, paintings, arials. it's a fucking assault on your senses. perfect. my favorite entry is on page 69, a message to the Strip Beautification Committee from author-theorist Robert Venturi, which includes a drawing of a section of the strip based at the Dunes and suggestions for improvement. Between the two drawings of the Dunes cross-section and an illustration of the "vulgarity" of the Tropicana sign, Venturi has drawn a large NO inside a circle with arrows pointing to both drawings. On that same page, he has drawn YES inside a heart next to his bracketed suggestions for Strip Beautification. the hand-drawings by contributors are very sweet. the ambitious but indiscernible schema of the contributors' diagrams is not a hinderance and they are immensely enjoyable. pg 142, fig. 118 reads: VITRUVIUS: A Firmness + B Commodity + C Delight ____________________ GROPIUS: A + B = C oh no? oh yes. and the text is also bizarre and throws you around from architectural history and criticism, to symbol and sign, to aesthetics, to urban planning and activity patterns. if you make it that far, in part II, the first chapter SOME DEFINITIONS USING THE COMPARITIVE METHOD begins with three epigraphs, as follows: "Not innovating willfulness but reverence for the archetype" (Herman Melville) "Incessant new beginnings lead to sterility" (Wallace Stevens) "I like boring things" (Andy Warhol) there you have it; i dare you to take it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Bart

    An excellent if at times repetitive work. Some highlights: By limiting itself to strident articulations of the pure architectural elements of space, structure, and program, Modern architecture's expression has become a dry expressionism, empty and boring - and in the end irresponsible. Ironically, the Modern architecture of today, while rejecting explicit symbolism and frivolous appliqué ornament, has distorted the whole building into one big ornament. In substituting "articulation" for decoratio An excellent if at times repetitive work. Some highlights: By limiting itself to strident articulations of the pure architectural elements of space, structure, and program, Modern architecture's expression has become a dry expressionism, empty and boring - and in the end irresponsible. Ironically, the Modern architecture of today, while rejecting explicit symbolism and frivolous appliqué ornament, has distorted the whole building into one big ornament. In substituting "articulation" for decoration, it has become a duck. (p. 103) and The familiar that is a little off has a strange and revealing power. (p. 130) Not quite good as Complexity and Contradiction but indeed better than most.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    An excellent interpretive jumpstart for the scores of urban-vetted visiting LA who say, I just don't get it. We don't have a Brooklyn Bridge or iconic harbor or subway line running through Old Town, but there is a character that identifies itself as a city. A drive of aspiration runs rampant. Venturi and Scott Brown give voice to the underlying (commercial) forces that defy architectural/urban uniformity but very much infiltrate the landscape, tangibly, pervasively, a way of reevaluating the eme An excellent interpretive jumpstart for the scores of urban-vetted visiting LA who say, I just don't get it. We don't have a Brooklyn Bridge or iconic harbor or subway line running through Old Town, but there is a character that identifies itself as a city. A drive of aspiration runs rampant. Venturi and Scott Brown give voice to the underlying (commercial) forces that defy architectural/urban uniformity but very much infiltrate the landscape, tangibly, pervasively, a way of reevaluating the emerging development pattern that is more intelligent than a routine write-off to sprawl.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Amy Heeter

    Quality. For an architectural theory book it's top notch. I've never been to Vegas myself, but after reading this, I think my experience would be somewhat colored. It's amazing how few people even realize what Vegas represents. How ignorant and selfish has society become? Even if architectural symbolism isn't your thing, this will open your eyes to how our society has evolved around the automobile. Quality. For an architectural theory book it's top notch. I've never been to Vegas myself, but after reading this, I think my experience would be somewhat colored. It's amazing how few people even realize what Vegas represents. How ignorant and selfish has society become? Even if architectural symbolism isn't your thing, this will open your eyes to how our society has evolved around the automobile.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    "Architectural theories of the short run tend toward the idealization and generalization of expediency. Architecture for the long run requires creation, rather than adaptation, and response to advanced technology and sophisticated organization ...Although architects have not wished to recognize it, most architectural problems are of the expedient type, and the more architects become involved in social problems, the more this is true." -p.129 "Architectural theories of the short run tend toward the idealization and generalization of expediency. Architecture for the long run requires creation, rather than adaptation, and response to advanced technology and sophisticated organization ...Although architects have not wished to recognize it, most architectural problems are of the expedient type, and the more architects become involved in social problems, the more this is true." -p.129

  30. 4 out of 5

    Du

    It would be a 3.5 if half stars existed. The book is more fun than required reading. I saw it at a conference recently, having heard the authors a few years ago speak about the impact the book has had as well as the struggles the authors had writing it. Overall the idea is interesting, looking at Vegas as a metaphor for post WWII design and planning. The book has some great illustrations of signage and massing of buildings, which translate well. Overall it was a good afternoon read.

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