Re: interview 1
My architectural background:
I read Banister Fletcher's The History of Architecture on the Comparative Method everyday during my freshman and sophomore high school study hall. I read Robert Venturi's Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture for the first time my senior year in high school. I read Geoffrey Scott's The Architecture of Humanism - A Study in the History of Taste the summer before I began architecture school at Temple University in 1975.
My interest in architecture:
I started drawing building plans between the ages of five and six. I found out about architecture as a profession at the age of nine.
My feelings about architecture:
I have always been extremely passionate about architecture. It makes me happy.
My understanding of architecture:
I was fortunate to be born with an innate understanding of architecture, and my understanding continually grows higher and deeper.
Between 1974 [sic] (my senior year in High School) and 1984 I've read Complexity and Contradiction five times, four times reading the chapter in consecutive order, and once reading the chapters in reverse order (and one of the readings was done while on an Italian study tour 1977, which is the best "context" to read that book in).
88HoIR spectrum almost full
Stotesbury Mansion [Whitemarsh Hall] an enormous mansion designed in the English Palladian style, now demolished, housed the art collection of New York's Metropolitan Museum during World War II. I have two pieces of marble from Mr. Stotesbury's Dressing Room and a baluster from the entry court. My brother Otto first took me to Stotesbury, which back in the 1970s was a local teenage drinking/partying hangout. I was still in high school at the time, but I already loved architecture, as I read Banister Fletcher's History of Architecture on the Comparative Method during freshman year study hall, and seeing Stotesbury for the first and ever time thereafter was like finding an abandoned Kedleston Hall or Blenheim Palace kind of in my own backyard.
Re: genetic architecture
John Young wrote:
Don't miss a chance to sharpen your design skills by exploring, spelunking, a dangerous work of architecture on the verge of collapse...(and then went on to more or less specify the fate of the WTC as code compliant hazard).
Going to Stotesbury Mansion (really named Whitemarsh Hall) in the early-mid 1970s was very much "exploring, spelunking, a dangerous work of architecture on the verge of collapse." Maybe my design skills got some sharpening there.
Here's a few images of Stotesbury very much the way I remember it--it was a sort of personal quest for me to at least get into every room of the place, thus many visits--only went into one of its three basements, however; rumor had it that the bottom two basements were flooded out. The art treasures of the Metropolitan Museum of Art were stored here during World War II.
Re: the venturi influence
You make these broad stroke statements like "hardly anyone paid attention to that slim volume first published in 1966" as if you know this as fact--and because of this you lose integrity as any kind meaningful critic. I know I was paying attention to Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture when I was a freshman in high school 1970-71 [sic].
Jimmy Venturi's new website...
I was only 10 years old when C&C was published so I can't give any personal experience as to what happened then, but a few years ago someone at design-l wrote that "nobody read that precious book back then. Go and read the [bad?] reviews it got." I haven't checked out any of the reviews, but they are certainly a legitimate part of the continuum. C&C was not in the adult section of my local free library in 1972, but it was at the Northeast (Philadelphia) Regional library, and I can still remember seeing it for the first time. It looked "foreign" to me, clinical even, and once I started reading it, it just got worse--first sentence: "This is not an easy book," and that remained true for me in 1972. I bought my own copy of C&C at MoMA in 1975 (now a first year architecture student), and I started reading it again. I mentioned my reading to one of my teachers, Maria Romanach (daughter of Mario Romanach, sometime supplier of Cuban cigars to Mies van der Rohe), and she said, "Yeah, but you don't want to design that way!"
Venturi's Lieb House (No. 9) House to be moved (or demolished)
The first time I read Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture was in 1973 [sic], while a junior in high school. I didn't understand a whole bunch of it then, but by 1975, in first year of architecture school, I found I had no problem explaining (and defending) my designs virtually from day one. Whenever I read passages from the book now, I'm actually surprised by the straightforwardness, conciseness and ease with which Venturi delivers his insights.