Robert Charles Venturi, Jr. (born June 25, 1925 in Philadelphia) is an award-winning American architect and founding principal of the firm Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates. Robert Venturi and his wife and partner, Denise Scott Brown, are regarded among the most influential architects of the twentieth century, both through their architecture and planning, and theoretical writings and teaching. Venturi was awarded the Pritzker Prize in Architecture in 1991. He is also known for coining the maxim "Less is a bore" as antidote to Mies van der Rohe's famous modernist dictum "Less is more". Venturi lives in Philadelphia with Scott Brown. They have a son, James Venturi.
Venturi attended school at the Episcopal Academy in Merion, Pennsylvania. He graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University in 1947 and received his M.F.A. there in 1950. In 1951 he briefly worked under Eero Saarinen in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and later for Louis Kahn in Philadelphia. He was awarded the Rome Prize Fellowship at the American Academy in Rome in 1954, where he studied and toured Europe for two years.
From 1954 to 1965, Venturi held teaching positions at the University of Pennsylvania, where he served as Kahn's teaching assistant, an instructor, and later, as associate professor. It was there, in 1960, that he met fellow faculty member, architect and planner Denise Scott Brown. Venturi taught later at Yale University and was a visiting lecturer with Scott Brown in 2003 at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design.
A controversial critic of the purely functional and spare designs of modern orthodox architecture, Venturi has been considered a counterrevolutionary. He published his "gentle manifesto," Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture in 1966, described in the introduction by Vincent Scully to be "probably the most important writing on the making of architecture since Le Corbusier's 'Vers Une Architecture', of 1923." Venturi received a grant from the Graham Foundation in 1965 to aid in its completion. The book has been translated and published in 16 languages.
In 1972, with Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour, Venturi wrote Learning from Las Vegas: the Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form. The book published studies of the Las Vegas Strip undertaken by a 1970 research and design studio Venturi taught with Scott Brown at Yale's School of Architecture and Planning. Learning from Las Vegas was a further rebuke to orthodox modernism and elite architectural tastes. The book coined the terms "Duck" and "Decorated Shed" as applied to opposing architectural building styles.
Venturi created the firm Venturi and Short with William Short in 1960. John Rauch replaced Short as partner in 1964, changing the name to Venturi and Rauch. Venturi and Denise Scott Brown were married on July 23, 1967 in Santa Monica, California, and Scott Brown joined the firm as partner in charge of planning in 1969. The firm became known as Venturi, Rauch and Scott Brown in 1980, and, finally, after Rauch's resignation in 1989, Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates. The firm, based in Philadelphia, was awarded the Architecture Firm Award by the American Institute of Architects in 1985. Recent work has included many commissions from academic institutions, including campus planning and university buildings, and civic buildings in London, Toulouse and Japan. Venturi is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects.
The Vanna Venturi House in Philadelphia's Chestnut Hill neighborhood, designed for Venturi's mother, was recognized as a "Masterwork of Modern American Architecture" by the United States Postal Service in May 2005.