It was as whimsical, humorous, and perversely imaginative to think that the architecture of Las Vegas and of Levittown were valid areas for investigation, as Denise and Robert Venturi did. They were right, but it was still a campy idea. In January 1969, "LLV," written in red neon, hung just inside the exhibition space of Yale's Art and Architecture Building. It signaled the Venturi's student research and urban planning problem called "Learning from Las Vegas," which was subsequently published in book form in 1972. Charts, maps, diagrams, and photographs hung on every wall; from the ceiling, hung boomerang-shaped, guillotinelike maps in the configuration of Las Vegas' Route 91--"the archetype of the commercial strip." All was reflected in the silver vinyl of Project Argus, which sprawled diagonally across the space. In attendance, with student and faculty, was a star-studded list of guests chosen from those interested in Pop architecture, with or without Pop architects. What was presented Robert Venturi called "a new kind of urban environment that simply sprawls from the social and commercial needs of contemporary life." One study, "Activity Patterns," used color-coded maps to spot the locations of gambling casinos, wedding chapels, and food stores; another research project, "User Behavior," dealt with the iconography of parking lots, with "vehicular behavior," and with the inadequacy of directional signs in herding motorists into the desired parking patterns. Others, such as "Communication System and Anatomy of Signs," dealt with the scale, visibility, and construction of Las Vegas' flashing bubbling neon supersigns. There were also some spectacular slide shows and films, including one three-screen film of the Las Vegas strip seen while driving up and down it by day and then by night; and another film taken while flying over the casino with their outrageously joyous signs.
Quondam © 2012.08.16