Sunday, October 6, 2013

22. Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour - Learning From Las Vegas

The following post inaugurates a new type for this blog. Whereas the earlier posts could be largely characterized by an intention to explore the contemporary operationality of a work, a sort of immanent vicariousness, this post can be loosely characterized as schematic, in which the goal is not so much to use the work, but to search out and extract from the work what was, can, and could be used. If we could call the former a 'projection', we could call the latter a 'gleaning'.

It is perhaps then incisive that the first example of this type of post is Learning from Las Vegas, the infamous manifesto of 1972 that itself argues for an architectural approach that is more akin to the methodology of gleaning as opposed to projection. This book, the result of a studio at Yale, acted as the first concrete theoretical opposition to the architectural epistemology of modernism that was championed (via failure) by Le Corbusier, and as such paved the way for post-modern discourse.

The works that will be treated in the series of posts that follow in the same format will largely be of a highly sensitive nature, and it is therefore this sensitivity itself that needs to be respected and maintained. As a methodological consequence of the presuppositions that have been outline here, the content of these posts will be merely a series of quotes, introduced by a very brief historical and discursive contextualization.

"to question how we look at things." p3

"The morality of commercial advertising, gambling interests, and the competitive instinct is not at issue here, although, indeed, we believe it should be in the architect's broader, synthetic tasks of which an analysis such as this is but one aspect. The analysis of a drive-in church in this context would match that of a drive-in restaurant." p6

"The overlapping of disciplines may have diluted the architecture, but it enriched the meaning." p7

"orthodox Modern architects ... shunned symbolism of form as an expression or reinforcement of content: meaning was to be communicated, not through allusion to previously known forms, but through the inherent, physiognomic characteristics of form." p7

"This architecture of styles and signs is antispatial; it is an architecture of communication over space; communication dominates space as an element in the architecture and in the landscape. But it is for a new scale of landscape." p8

"Architecture is not enough. Because the spatial relationships are made by symbols more than by forms, architecture in this landscape becomes symbol in space rather than form in space" p13

"Each city is an archetype rather than a prototype, an exaggerated example from which to derive lessons for the typical. Each city vividly superimposes elements of a supranational scale on the local fabric..." p18

"The zone of the highway is a shared order. The zone off the highway is an individual order." p20

"The most unique, most monumental parts of the Strip, the signs and casino facades, are also the most changable; it is the neutral systems-motel structures behind that survive a succession of facelifts and a series of themes up front." p34

"The occupant of an anonymous vernacular tenement on an Italian medieval street could achieve identity through decoration on a front door - or perhaps through the bella figura of clothing - within the scale of a spatially limited, foot-going community. The same held for families behind the unified facades of Nash's London terraces. But for the middle-class suburbanite living, not in an antebellum mansion, but in a smaller version lost in a large space, identity must come through symbolic treatment of the form of the house, either through styling provided by the developer (for instance, split-level Colonial) or through a variety of symbolic ornaments applied thereafter by the owner (the Rococo lamp in the picture window or the wagon wheel out front)." p154

"We architects who hope for a reallocation of national resources toward social purposes must take care to lay emphasis on the purposes and their promotion rather than on the architecture that shelters them." p155

"Understanding the content of Pop's messages and the way that it is projected does not mean that one need agree with, approve of, or reproduce that content." p162

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