In Memoriam: Robert Venturi, postmodernist architect, 93

Robert Venturi

Front of the Vanna Venturi House, one of the first major works of post-modern architecture, known especially for its facade and split gable. Photo by smallbones

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Architect Robert Venturi, who rejected austere modern design and instead ushered in postmodern complexity, has died. He was 93.

His family released a statement on his firm’s website saying Venturi died at home in Philadelphia on Tuesday after a brief illness, surrounded by his wife and son.

He remained active well into his 80s at Venturi, Scott Brown & Associates, the architecture firm he founded in the 1960s. It’s now known as VSBA Architects + Planners.

The firm says in a statement: “All of us at VSBA are heartbroken. Viva Bob.”

Robert Venturi

2008 photo of Robert Venturi (1925-2018) in Rome. Photo by Todd Sheridan, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

Venturi followed the dictum, “Less is a bore” — an antidote to Mies van der Rohe’s famous credo, “Less is more.”

Together with his wife and partner, Denise Scott Brown (b. 1931-), he helped shape the way that architects, planners and students experience and think about architecture and the American-built environment. Their buildings, planning, theoretical writings, and teaching have also contributed to the expansion of discourse about architecture.

His work celebrated complexity and even inconsistency in design. He encouraged architects and consumers to enjoy “messy vitality” in architecture — whether whimsical, sarcastic, humorous or honky-tonk.

Venturi was awarded the Pritzker Prize in Architecture in 1991; the prize was awarded to him alone, despite a request to include his equal partner, Brown. Subsequently, a group of women architects attempted to get her name added retroactively to the prize, but the Pritzker Prize jury declined to do so.

Venturi lived in Philadelphia with Denise Scott Brown. He was the father of James Venturi, founder and principal of ReThink Studio.


Auction Central News contributed to this report.

Copyright 2018 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This information may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.