a story lives forever
Sign in
Form submission failed!

Stay signed in

Recover your password?
Form submission failed!

Web of Stories Ltd would like to keep you informed about our products and services.

Please tick here if you would like us to keep you informed about our products and services.

I have read and accepted the Terms & Conditions.

Please note: Your email and any private information provided at registration will not be passed on to other individuals or organisations without your specific approval.

Video URL

You must be registered to use this feature. Sign in or register.


Getting older


Why we went to work in China
Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown Architect
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments

[DSB] We’d had a good experience in Japan and Korea. Everyone in the world was building a building in China. We thought there could be opportunity there. We had this associate, Wai Li, who Bob knew well and liked. And he specifically invited him to go there to be on a jury. We thought this would be a good opportunity to see China with the help of a friend. And then, Wai Li probably organised that we would come the second time to be… help with the master plan. And so, those were the reasons we went. The research that we did by having three trips to China made us echo the thing that Mark Wigley said, ‘Every architect has been to China… yes indeed… to build a bad building’. And we decided by our experience there and from our architect in our firm, Ke Feng, that we had to be very choosy about the projects we would take there because we are a small firm and we’re very vulnerable. We couldn’t take a project where we could easily lose a great deal of money. And we needed to find one where we could trust the client and where we’d be dealt with in a way we’re used to being dealt with. And by the time we left China, we felt there would be a way to do a project but it would still… we did a project we did the plan for Tsinghua, but to do another project we’d have to wait a long time before there was one that was suitable. We think the one that Dalian… The Dalia Road [sic], is a suitable project. We hope it happens. We haven’t found another.

Have you been offered projects that you’ve turned down in China?

[DSB] We offered one and we tried to comply, but by the time we showed them what we needed to be architects there, they said, you can’t comply with our conditions, we can’t hire you. Their conditions were that you sign a contract within about three days of being asked for one thing. But we did feel that if the firms in Hong Kong that we talked to started to build in China, they could be interested in us and we could be interested in them.

Have you heard anything back from those firms?

[DSB] No, not at all. And you mustn’t forget that they also looked at us and said, ‘These are old people’.

Internationally renowned architects Robert Venturi (1925-2018) and Denise Scott Brown (b.1931) have helped transform contemporary design through their innovative architecture and planning. Winners of numerous prestigious awards, their designs have championed multiculturalism, social activism, symbolism, pop culture, history and evolving technologies.

Listeners: Thomas Hughes

Thomas Hughes is Mellon Professor Emeritus of the History of Science at the University of Pennsylvania and Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His most recent books include Human Built World, Rescuing Prometheus and American Genesis. He is a member of the American Philosophical Society, US National Academy of Engineering, Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Duration: 2 minutes, 23 seconds

Date story recorded: 22nd to 23rd September 2006

Date story went live: 27 May 2010