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Learning from Las Vegas: The Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form
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Learning from Las Vegas: The Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  1,577 ratings  ·  51 reviews
Editorial Reviews - Learning from Las Vegas From the Publisher Learning from Las Vegas created a healthy controversy on its appearance in 1972, calling for architects to be more receptive to the tastes and values of "common" people and less immodest in their erections of "heroic," self-aggrandizing monuments. This revision includes the full texts of Part I of the original, ...more
Paperback, Revised, 208 pages
Published January 1st 1977 by MIT Press (first published 1972)
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Nov 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: architecture
Venturi has undoubtedly become the black sheep of late twentieth-century architecture. This book is part of the reason why. It's a rather bold, almost crass statement about the askew focus of Modern architecture. He compares Rome to Las Vegas, not to mention the fact that he introduced postmodern irony into architectural perspectives, which the classicists and the moderns probably weren't too thrilled about. His symbolical relativism more or less diminishes every formal masterpiece ever construc ...more
Em "Reacher"
Jul 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: not-jack-reacher lists the sole author of Learning from Las Vegas as Robert Venturi but, in fact, it was co-authored with Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour. Don't be surprised if Jack Reacher suddenly shows up at the headquarters and sees that justice is served in the name of the overlooked authors. Consider this a firm premonition.
Erik Carter
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Essential book 4 dezigners. Not sure if I like it more than "Complexity and Contradiction" but it's still pretty great.
Jun 07, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: design
I was disappointed. Some of this disappointment is practical; in trying to save money on this edition, they went too far, and shrank the illustrations too much, to the point where I genuinely can't see what's going on in many of them (several pages have multiple, tiny b&w photos on them, with crappy contrast).

And some of my disappointment may come from familiarity with many of the authors' basic arguments--they're not new to me, which isn't really this book's fault (then again, I did not ha
Michelle Llewellyn
Jun 22, 2013 rated it liked it
Had to read this for my Theories of Popular Culture class for English. The best thing about this book are the old photos of the now "Old" Las Vegas Strip. I especially enjoyed comparing the aerial photos of the 1979 Strip to modern day Google Map and Wiki images. Venturi's duck and decorated shed were also fun to learn about and our teacher encouraged us to examine our own city for similar architectural theory. I learned a lot.
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I still think about this one all the time, years later.
Nov 05, 2011 rated it liked it
Truly brilliant and epochal theory/criticism from a guy who, in the end, like so many brilliant theoreticians, turned out to be a crap architect himself.
Mar 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A book that beautifully presents Las Vegas' tangible architectural elements and gives us insightful views of the overall display of rigid shapes ranging from an outward to an inward perspective.

I loved the inclusion of the Eliot's "East Coker" into Las Vegas'architectural design.(a poem about the cycle of life from birth to return-‘In my beginning is my end.’ - a poem touched by insights of the Ecclesiastes)

“perhaps a fitting requiem for the irrelevant works of Art that are today’s descendants
Adam Coenraads
Nov 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: history-politics
3.5 stars. It's a book that would be very helpful to someone studying architecture/architectural history. The concept of "the duck, and the decorated shed" are fundamental yet quite interesting. The illustrations and tables are very 60s polsci though and gave me plenty of flashbacks. Quite interesting.
Oct 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Książka wyszła w Polsce jakieś 40 lat po pierwszym wydaniu w Stanach. Cóż wiec może w niej być nowego? Nowego może nic, ale sprawia, ze ma się ochotę kupić bilet i polecieć do Vegas żeby patrzeć na szyldy (których już nie ma). W wersji budżetowej można też wybrać się w podróż Siódemką.
Jun 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: archi-stuff
Post Modernist approach to symbols... Consumerism seal !
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Simply brilliant
Feb 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
Outdated by today's standards, too academic and unenlightening to be worth the read. Historically significant I was told
Vadim Ermakov
Jul 26, 2017 rated it did not like it
bored me to death.
Jun 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un gran ensayo que marcó la arquitectura cuando se publicó en 1972, y que sigue siendo muy influyente en la actualidad. En él se hace una crítica a la arquitectura moderna y se profundiza en por qué ésta no ha llegado a la gente, a las grandes masas. Para ello se nutre de un análisis minucioso de las Vegas, de las de 1970, para entender qué tiene la arquitectura de las Vegas que no tenga la arquitectura moderna que guste tanto a la gente.

Un ensayo muy interesante que nos hace reflexionar sobre
Robert Ullrich
Mar 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
While stating the obvious, Venturi captivates the post modern mentality. A world shaped by what we worship is a world that we will inhabit gleefully. Capitalism and comfort born as sign posts and ducks, I willingly will step foot into Las Vegas with a new appreciation for the tackiness of Caesars.
Sep 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thesis, beloved
the course i reference in my review of HJ Kunstler's "The Geography of Nowhere" is the same course in which this text was taught. but since the course was a mere 1.0 credit and there wasn't a lot of time to discuss all of the texts, we mostly looked at this book and it's pictures.

which brings me to the great part about this book: there are a lot of pictures and a large assortment of type. there are blueprints, photographs, diagrams, drawings, diagrams imposed on drawings, post-cards on top of st
La primera parte muy bien, la segunda no tanto. Nunca me ha gustado eso de coger una obra propia para hacer una comparación y decir lo que está bien y lo que no.

En cuanto a la edición, me alegra haber esperado a que saliese esta. La de GG Reprints se veía demasiado pequeña para un libro que es mitad texto, mitad imágenes. Esta nueva edición revisada está mucho mejor, es bastante grande y parece que incluso tiene más fotos en color que la anterior; además, la encuadernación va cosida y el diseño

Sep 15, 2015 marked it as to-keep-ref  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arquitectura
Al contrario que Loos, Robert Venturi resalta la importancia de un edificio que comunica un significado al público, para lo cual necesita la incorporación al edificio de elementos no funcionales; Loos, ingeniosamente, cambió la máxima de Mies van der Rohe «menos es más» por la de «menos es aburrido». De nuevo lo que debemos añadir aquí es que la austeridad funcionalista moderna siempre es reflexiva; también comunica un significado: la «funcionalidad» de un elevado edificio moderno es el mensaje ...more
Ola Loobeensky
Apr 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ekipa Karakteru to, powiem Wam, nie lada ryzykanci. Kto by pomyślał -- wydawać książkę o Las Vegas w samym środku modernistycznego boomu, kiedy królują zamknięte systemy i idealne rozwiązania, wszystko jest białe oraz minimalistyczne, a jeżeli nie jest białe, to przynajmniej z surowego betonu. Trochę sobie żartuję, bo tak naprawdę uważam, że moment jest doskonały, w sam raz, aby rozruszać dogmatyków i spojrzeć z innej perspektywy na "dekorowane budy" kasyn, przy okazji ucząc się wyrozumiałości d ...more
Jul 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
An excellent if at times repetitive work. Some highlights:

By limiting itself to strident articulations of the pure architectural elements of space, structure, and program, Modern architecture's expression has become a dry expressionism, empty and boring - and in the end irresponsible. Ironically, the Modern architecture of today, while rejecting explicit symbolism and frivolous appliqué ornament, has distorted the whole building into one big ornament. In substituting "articulation" for decoratio
Jun 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
An excellent interpretive jumpstart for the scores of urban-vetted visiting LA who say, I just don't get it. We don't have a Brooklyn Bridge or iconic harbor or subway line running through Old Town, but there is a character that identifies itself as a city. A drive of aspiration runs rampant.

Venturi and Scott Brown give voice to the underlying (commercial) forces that defy architectural/urban uniformity but very much infiltrate the landscape, tangibly, pervasively, a way of reevaluating the eme
Apr 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: y08, for-real
"Architectural theories of the short run tend toward the idealization and generalization of expediency. Architecture for the long run requires creation, rather than adaptation, and response to advanced technology and sophisticated organization ...Although architects have not wished to recognize it, most architectural problems are of the expedient type, and the more architects become involved in social problems, the more this is true." -p.129
Oct 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: planning
It would be a 3.5 if half stars existed. The book is more fun than required reading. I saw it at a conference recently, having heard the authors a few years ago speak about the impact the book has had as well as the struggles the authors had writing it.

Overall the idea is interesting, looking at Vegas as a metaphor for post WWII design and planning. The book has some great illustrations of signage and massing of buildings, which translate well. Overall it was a good afternoon read.
Amy Heeter
May 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Quality. For an architectural theory book it's top notch. I've never been to Vegas myself, but after reading this, I think my experience would be somewhat colored. It's amazing how few people even realize what Vegas represents. How ignorant and selfish has society become? Even if architectural symbolism isn't your thing, this will open your eyes to how our society has evolved around the automobile.
Feb 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: architecture
I've wanted to read this since college. Now I have and it it an honest and thorough analysis of the system of signs that is the architecture of Las Vegas. It's importance, of course, is not in what it says about Vegas but in what it says about a way of thinking about architecture and what is valid subject matter for architectural analysis.
Nov 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
"When Modern architects righteously abandoned ornament on buildings, they unconsciously designed buildings that were ornament. [...] It is all right to decorate construction but never construct decoration" (163).

Provocative stuff, and intensely relevant to graphic design, but I still couldn't give you a comprehensible definition of a "duck".
Jun 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: architecture
A brilliant primary text that any student of architecture should immediately read, it will inform you and set you on a path of learning at the highest level. Venturi's practice - Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates - and their approach to design is world-leading and this book demonstrates the clarity of thought and intelligence they apply to this pursuit.
Ginger Price
Apr 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary
I'm not an architect or an architecture student so I was unfamiliar with much of the vernacular and some of the concepts were over my head. I had to read this book for a theory class and, while I'm not familiar with architecture, it was a well-written book full of interesting theories. It definitely makes me look at buildings and signs differently.
Dec 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: architecture, design, own
Although Learning from Las Vegas is 37+ years old, much of the theory holds relevant. Venturi and folks criticism of modern buildings relates to much of what is still being created today. Bearers of the sustainable design flag could learn something from reading this book and applying ideas about vernacular, ornament, and decorated sheds to all fields of production and industry.
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Robert Charles Venturi, Jr. is an American architect, founding principal of the firm Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, and one of the major architectural figures in the twentieth century. Together with his wife and partner, Denise Scott Brown, he helped to shape the way that architects, planners and students experience and think about architecture and the American built environment. Their build ...more
“The Italian landscape has always harmonized the vulgar and the Vitruvian: the contorni around the duomo, the portiere'S laundry across the padrone's portone, Supercortemaggiore against the Romanesque apse. Naked children have never played in our fountains, and I. M. Pei will never be happy on Route 66.” 3 likes
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