by Diane M. Fiske
"Out of the Ordinary" is the new exhibit of the work of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown (VSBA) at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. One of the most exciting components was a presentation by the two architects at the June 7th opening.
The architects' remarks gave listeners a special behind-the-scenes glimpse of some of their creations. Venturi shared some insight on his design philosophy that he said came from a need for a fresh perspective on the trappings of modern life.
Referring to Learning from Las Vegas, Venturi said that he and co-authors Scott Brown and VSBA principal Steve Izenour found the billboards and moving signs of Las Vegas in keeping with the fast pace of contemporary life. Messages today must be read from vehicles traveling at high speeds.
"In the past, signage and storefronts were designed to be seen and read by people walking or riding on horses," he said. "Today those forms of communication would be blurred and unread by drivers and passengers."
To anyone who attempts to fit his philosophy into a simple one-word framework, Venturi gently offered a little guidance, probably aimed at an unknown brochure writer who called him one of "the founders" of postmodernism.
"I am not now and have never been a postmodernist," he said.
East elevation of the Philadelphia Orchestra Hall, 1987-96, by Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, drawn with air brush on photomechanical print mounted on foam core board.
Photo: Will Brown
Front elevation of the Vanna Venturi House, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1959-64.
Photo: Great Buildings Photo © Kevin Matthews
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