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Threatening to resign over a tug-of-war design process


’If you have Venturi and Scott Brown you have double your problem’
Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown Architect
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[DSB] It was Jacob Rothschild. And he said it in public and on a movie so I feel we have… there’s no client privacy we’re protecting if we say, ‘Yes, he did say that’. And, I think people… clients who are sympathetic and knowledgeable will know what to come to Bob for and what to come to me for. By the same token, if Bob has a way of explaining something and I see that the client hasn’t understood, I will explain from a different point of view. And that’s what made Jacob say that because he had no way out. If he couldn’t understand the one way, then he had to understand the other way. There was a time when Simon Sainsbury wanted much more decoration on the back of the building than we thought was right and then the City of Westminster also pushed them into doing that, so finally we had to do it. But we wanted it to be very plain at the back. So I said to Simon, ‘Look at your suit’; now Simon wore the most perfect suits from Huntsman, the great tailor nearby on Savile Row. I said, ‘Simon, look at your suit; it has lapels on the front and very beautiful detailing on the front and on the back it’s extremely plain, but well cut’. And Simon said, ‘Denise, I don’t want another analogy from you please’

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: 1 minute, 30 seconds

Date story recorded: 22nd to 23rd September 2006

Date story went live: 27 May 2010