| Robert Venturi books, Architecture books|
Learning from Las Vegas is a 1972 book by Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, and Steven Izenour. Translated into 18 languages, the book had a major impact on the emergence of postmodernism.
Learning from Las Vegas Wikipedia
While still a grad student at Yale, Izenour was a TA who assisted Robert Venturi in 1968 for a studio course and research project titled "Learning from Las Vegas, or Form Analysis as Design Research". The findings from the research eventually became the book "Learning from Las Vegas" first published in 1972 and republished in a revised edition in 1977 titled Learning from Las Vegas. The Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form.
Izenour accompanied his senior tutor colleagues, Venturi and Scott Brown, to Las Vegas in 1968 together with nine students of architecture and two planning and two graphics students to study the urban form of the city that was regarded as a "non-city", the outgrowth of a "strip", along which were placed parking lots and singular frontages for gambling casinos, hotels, churches and bars. Venturi, Scott Brown and Izenour had already previously visited Las Vegas - which had led to the joint article "A significance for A&P parking lots, or learning from Las Vegas" (1968). The research group studied various aspects of the city, including its symbolism, the lighting, "pattern books", "styles" and "illusion/allusion". Their conclusion was that in a city like Las Vegas image has far greater importance than architectural form. The difference was said to be epitomised in the difference between architecture as either a "decorated shed" or "duck". The greatest part of modernist architecture attempted to be a "duck" in being expressive, especially in terms of volume; but the "decorated shed" held no such illusions and relied on imagery and signs. Virtually all architecture prior to the Modern Movement used such decoration to convey meaning, often profound but sometimes simply perfunctory, such as the signage on medieval shop fronts. Only Modernist architecture eschewed such ornament, relying only on its corporeal or structural elements to convey meaning. As such, it became mute and often vacuous, especially when built for corporate or government clients.
Learning from Las Vegas caused a stir in the architectural world upon its publication, as it was hailed by progressive critics for its bold indictment of Modernism, and by the status quo as blasphemous. A split among young American architects occurred during the 1970s, with Izenour, Venturi, Robert A.M. Stern, Charles Moore and Allan Greenberg defending the book as "The Greys", and Richard Meier, Peter Eisenman, John Hejduk, and Michael Graves writing against its premises as "The Whites." It became associated with post-modernism when magazines such as Progressive Architecture published articles citing its influence on the younger generation. When Tom Wolfe wrote his often-pilloried book, From Bauhaus to Our House, Venturi, Scott Brown and Izenour were among the heroes the author praised for their stand against heroic Modernism.