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.


Princeton and architects that I like


My disillusionment with Louis Kahn
Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown Architect
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments

[RV] I’ve written an essay or two on… and lecture about… on how Louis Kahn was influenced by a lot of the young people around him, which is perfectly all right. I think very often, teachers are influenced by their students, but, he never… he never recognised that, which I think was not nice at all. I remember once… I remember once attending with Denise Scott Brown, I think it was in the mid ‘60s, a lecture by Louis Kahn that he was giving in the Art Alliance and right in the middle of the lecture I realised, half the buildings he was showing were directly influenced by me, in many, in certain ways. And we went out and sat in the, sort of, springtime. We sat in Rittenhouse Square and I just sort of fell apart when I realised this… this was a guy that I had admired so much. But other people, it happened the same way to other people with Louis Kahn.  That’s another whole subject, which doesn’t really connect.

Could you be specific about what he took from you?

[RV] Well, I’m kind of forgetting details like that, but he took from me the idea of the enclosed space, he took from me the idea of… he influenced me too… the idea of the servant space. He took from me the idea of layering and I should go back to my article, since I wrote it as an article I’ve got it out of my system, so I haven’t thought about it much anymore. But I gave it as a lecture, I think, the first time in Japan and wrote… wrote a…

One story is that you put mother’s house where you did, so he’d have to look at it every morning.

[RV] No, the other, the other… there was… what reminded me of that influencing was that in that house up the street, that I forget the name of, you can look out of the window and see the chimney coming up behind the window, and that was my idea indirectly. That was one of the things that kind of… that kind of influenced me.  So he did do a lot of that.

You can see that house tomorrow too.

[RV] Yeah, yeah, it’s an interesting house actually. But then later, I just didn’t go along with what he was doing. He was… when I was going into the appropriateness of acknowledging the everyday, acknowledging the… the… what do you call the everyday, there’s another word for it?

[DSB] Conventional building?

[RV] The convention, let’s say convention. He was being… doing architecture that was very ‘original’, which it really wasn’t and ‘very, very monumental’, in a period where… where monumentality was not appropriate, I thought.  A lot of the work he did in Asia after that… So I’ve written all about this and it was sort of a sad evolution where I loved the guy, discovered the guy in a way, was with Anne Tang and eventually I became very disillusioned. And… but it is interesting that many, many, many years later he is still very fashionable and talked about a lot, and, and directly influences people. There were a couple of people who started… who started a practice a while back in Philadelphia who worked here, who said twice in a… in a Philadelphia paper, we worked for Venturi Scott Brown, but we are influenced in our work by Louis Kahn, which is all right.

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: 3 minutes, 35 seconds

Date story recorded: 22nd to 23rd September 2006

Date story went live: 27 May 2010