Skip to main content

30% Off New Releases: Explore the List

Harvard University Press - home
Architecture as Signs and Systems

Architecture as Signs and Systems

For a Mannerist Time

Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown

ISBN 9780674015715

Publication date: 12/17/2004

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.

Praise

  • 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, Times Literary Supplement

Authors

  • Robert Venturi was principal in charge of design in the architectural firm Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates in Philadelphia. He was 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 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.

Book Details

  • 264 pages
  • 8-1/2 x 8-1/2 inches
  • Belknap Press

Recommendations