Robert_Venturi_2008_Rome
Todd Sheridan // CC BY-SA 2.0

Robert Venturi, Penn Design professor and architect of several campus buildings, died at age 93 in his Philadelphia home.

Venturi, whose death has been attributed to complications from Alzheimer's disease, is hailed as one of the inspirations of the postmodernist movement. He coined the phrase, "Less is a bore."

The Philadelphia native completed his undergraduate studies at Princeton in 1947 and later received a Master of Fine Arts from Princeton in 1950. He received an honorary degree from Penn in 1980.

Venturi taught at Penn from 1959 to 1967, according to Architect Magazine. He later went on to teach at Yale University and Harvard University.

On Penn's campus, Venturi and his design firm are responsible for several key campus landmarks — including the Perelman Quadrangle, the Roy and Diana Vagelos Laboratories, the School of Medicine's Clinical Research Building, and key preservation work on the Fisher Fine Arts Library.

Credit: Son Nguyen

Venturi published his first book, "Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture," in 1966 and called for greater ornamentation and richness in modern architecture. The book was sponsored by the Museum of Modern Art and Graham Foundation and has been translated into over a dozen languages, according to The New York Times. 

Venturi's wife, Denise Scott Brown, graduated from Penn's School of Design with a Master of City Planning in 1960 and a Master of Architecture in 1965. The two met at PennDesign in 1960 at a faculty meeting and continued to act as life and professional partners for much of their lives, according to a PennDesign news article.

Venturi founded his own architectural planning and design firm — Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates — in 1958, the Associated Press reports. Denise Scott Brown joined the firm as a partner in 1969, and the two continued to have extensive ties to PennDesign with their various architectural projects.

Outside of Philadelphia, some of Venturi's notable projects include the Seattle Art Museum, the Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery in London, and a capitol building in Toulouse, France. Venturi has also contributed to over 70 academic projects for over 30 higher education institutions, including Princeton, Dartmouth, Harvard, and Yale. Throughout all his projects, Venturi championed the idea of going against the grain of “refinement” in architecture, a view U.S. News said was common among Venturi's traditionalist contemporaries. 

In 2016, PennDesign reported that Venturi and Scott Brown were recipients of the prestigious American Institute of Architects Gold Medal. 

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