Architect Robert C. Venturi Jr., 93, hailed as a catalyzing force of the Postmodern architecture style who noted the influence of his wife and partner Denise Scott Brown in his 1991 Pritzker Prize win despite her not being included in the recognition, died Sept. 18 in Philadelphia, a family member told ENR’s sister publication Architectural Record. The cause was Alzheimer’s disease complications.
Venturi published his groundbreaking treatise, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture, in 1966, and began a professional partnership with Scott Brown in 1969. Their Philadelphia firm now is called VSBA.
Venturi and Scott Brown also worked together on such landmark projects as the Allen Memorial Art Museum in Oberlin, Ohio, and Franklin Court in Philadelphia (both 1976), and the Sainsbury wing of the National Gallery in London (1991).
The pair received the American Institute of Architects’ Gold Medal in 2016, although Venturi had rejected the award years before because rules at the time barred two recipients, according to Architectural Record.
Venturi’s design for the London gallery came “after more than six years of design fiascos” says a 1987 ENR story. Planners rejected a previous modernistic design after it was described as “a monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved friend” by Britain’s Prince Charles.
“We decided to respect the ‘much-loved friend’ by speaking the classical language,” Venturi said at the time. While he said his approach was to “create harmony,” ENR noted that “a two-story glass wall, skylights and other design features give the design ... an identity all its own.“
Click here for Architectural Record's obituary and professional tributes.
Photo copyright by Frank Hanswijk, courtesy of VSBA