Denise Scott Brown in Las Vegas, 1968
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Denise Scott Brown, (born Lakofski; born October 3rd, 1931) is an architect, planner, writer, educator, and principal of the firm Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates in Philadelphia. Denise Scott Brown and her husband and partner, Robert Venturi, are regarded among the most influential architects of the twentieth century, both through their architecture and planning, and theoretical writing and teaching. Scott Brown and Venturi live in Philadelphia and have a son, James Venturi.
Born to Jewish parents Simon and Phyllis (Hepker) Lakofski, Denise Lakofski studied first in South Africa at the University of the Witwatersrand from 1948 to 1952, where she met her future husband, Robert Scott Brown. Lakofski traveled to London in 1952 and continued her education at the Architectural Association School of Architecture. She was joined there by Scott Brown in 1954, and graduated with a degree in architecture in 1955. Denise and Robert Scott Brown were married on July 21, 1955. The couple spent the next three years working and traveling throughout Europe. In 1958, the Scott Browns came to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to study at the University of Pennsylvania's planning department. In 1959, Robert Scott Brown was killed in an auto accident. Denise Scott Brown completed her master's degree in city planning in 1960 and became a faculty member at the university upon graduation. She completed a master's degree in architecture while teaching. At a 1960 faculty meeting, Scott Brown met Robert Venturi, a young architect and faculty member, when she spoke against demolishing the university's library, designed by Philadelphia architect Frank Furness. The two became collaborators and taught courses together from 1962-1964.
Scott Brown left the University of Pennsylvania in 1965. Becoming known as a scholar in urban planning, she taught at the University of California, Berkeley, and was then named co-chair of the Urban Design Program at the University of California, Los Angeles. Scott Brown later taught at Yale University, and in 2003 was a visiting lecturer with Venturi at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design. During her years in the Southwest, Scott Brown became interested in the newer cities of Los Angeles and Las Vegas. She invited Venturi to visit her classes at UCLA, and in 1966 asked him to visit Las Vegas with her. The two were married in Santa Monica, California on July 23, 1967. Scott Brown moved back to Philadelphia in 1967 to join her husband's firm, Venturi and Rauch, and became principal in charge of planning in 1969.
Learning from Las Vegas
In 1972, with Venturi and Steven Izenour, Scott Brown wrote Learning From Las Vegas: the Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form. The book published studies of the Las Vegas Strip, undertaken with students in a research studio Scott Brown taught with Venturi in 1970 at Yale's School of Architecture and Planning. The book joined Venturi's previous Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (Museum of Modern Art, 1966) as a rebuke to orthodox modernism and elite architectural tastes, and a pointed acceptance of American sprawl and vernacular architecture. The book coined the terms "Duck" and "Decorated Shed" as applied to opposing architectural styles. Scott Brown has remained a prolific writer on architecture and urban planning.
With the firm, re-named Venturi, Rauch and Scott Brown in 1980; and finally Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates in 1989, Scott Brown has led major civic planning projects and studies, and more recently has directed many university campus planning projects. She has also served as principal-in-charge with Robert Venturi on the firm's larger architectural projects, including the Sainsbury Wing of London's National Gallery, the capitol building in Toulouse and the Nikko Hotel and Spa Resort in Japan.
When Robert Venturi
was named as winner of the 1991 Pritzker Architecture Prize, Denise Scott Brown did not attend the award ceremony in protest. The prize organization, the Hyatt Foundation stated that, in 1991, it honored only individual architects, a practice that changed in 2001 with the selection of Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron. However, the award was given to two recipients in 1988.