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Archives of Venturi Scott Brown Associates Coming to Penn
November 14, 2006, Volume 53, No. 12

Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi

World-renowned architects and planners Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown have donated the archives of Venturi Scott Brown Associates (VSBA) to Penn’s  Architectural Archives. 

The VSBA archives consist of project records, including drawings, models, reports, manuscripts, correspondence and other related material.  Also included are teaching records of Mr. Venturi and Ms. Scott Brown at Penn and other institutions.

In announcing the gift, President Amy Gutmann said, “We are absolutely thrilled to have the Venturi Scott Brown Associates’ archives at Penn. The University has had a long and productive association with both the firm and Denise and Bob. We are proud to have them as part of the Penn family, and we look forward to sharing the records of their world-renowned work with students, faculty and scholars for generations to come.”

Robert Venturi, founding principal of VSBA, and Denise Scott Brown are architects, planners, urban designers, theorists, writers and educators whose work and ideas have influenced architects and planners worldwide. They derive their reputation from both their architecture and their theoretical and critical writings. 

Mr. Venturi has received the Pritzker Architectural Prize and Ms. Scott Brown the Topaz Medallion and both the Presidential National Medal of the Arts. Their books, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture by Mr. Venturi and Learning from Las Vegas by Mr. Venturi, Ms. Scott Brown and Steven Izenour, continue to be architectural best-sellers and have been translated and published in numerous languages.

Mr. Venturi is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and an International Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects.  Ms. Scott Brown is a member and an International Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

The VSBA gift makes Penn the center for research on the work of these two significant architects and planners, and it furthers the active collection at Penn of the records of the “Philadelphia School,” the designers and thinkers who made Penn the leader in architectural theory and practice in the 1950s and ’60s and made Philadelphia the center of these activities.

“The VSBA archives are a true international treasure,” PennDesign Dean Gary Hack said.  “They chronicle 40 years of leading architectural and planning ideas, and will be an inspiration to generations of students at Penn and scholars from around the world.”

Mr. Venturi and Ms. Scott Brown have had long Penn relationships. Ms. Scott Brown earned two master’s degrees at Penn, one in city planning in 1960 and another in architecture in 1965. Both she and Mr. Venturi were awarded honorary degrees by the University, he in 1980 and she in 1990.  Both have served on the faculty of GSFA—now PennDesign—and both have served as Penn overseers, Mr. Venturi at PennDesign and Ms. Scott Brown at the Library.

VSBA has been responsible for a number of architectural and campus planning commissions at Penn. Among them are the Clinical Research Building, the restoration of Fisher Fine Arts Library, the Roy and Diana Vagelos Laboratories and, most recently, planning and design of alterations and additions to some of Penn’s major historical buildings: Houston Hall, Logan Hall and Irvine Auditorium, and Perelman Quadrangle.

In making their gift, Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi said, “Given the great breadth, depth and relevance to our work of the collections in Penn’s Architectural Archives and given the skilled techniques the Archives staff apply to nurturing them and making them available, the ample physical facilities for research and study provided in the Library building and the cordial welcome researchers, local and global, receive when they visit or write, we feel we could not have chosen a better home for our life’s work.”

Almanac - November 14, 2006, Volume 53, No. 12