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The New Objectivity


Protests over our use of neon
Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown Architect
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[RV] We did do signage in neon in the late 60s, in Grands Restaurant.  It was a renovation, very small job, where we put signage on the walls inside, very big signs, and on the outside we did a sign which was in the form of a cup, a café.  And because of the neighbours’ protests in this neighbourhood, which was not very upper, not at all upper middle class, because of their protests the owners had to remove that cup. We also used in the… in the renovation of a Catholic Church in West Philadelphia, very beautiful church in the Byzantine style, that was the period when the ritual was being changed, or the altar was being moved forward and things of that sort… we accommodated that and then we put – also to help express what we were doing – we put neon, some neon, very gentle touch of neon within the interior.

[DSB] In white, it wasn’t coloured.

[RV] In white, and that also had to be removed after a few months because of the protests of the neighbours.

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, 11 seconds

Date story recorded: 22nd to 23rd September 2006

Date story went live: 27 May 2010