Venturi Scott Brown Archives Come to Penn

The restoration of the Fisher Fine Arts Library. The Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery in London. The Perelman Quadrangle. The Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego. Those are just a few of the projects that the world-renowned architectural firm of Venturi Scott Brown Associates (VSBA) has designed. Now the firm’s archives—brimming with drawings, models, reports, manuscripts, letters, and other project records—are coming to Penn’s Architectural Archives.

The gift by Robert Venturi Hon’80 and Denise Scott Brown GCP’60 GAr’65 Hon’94 not only makes Penn the center for research on the work of those two influential architects and planners; it also furthers the active collection of the “Philadelphia School” of designers and thinkers who made Penn a leader in architectural theory and practice in the 1950s and ’60s and put Philadelphia at the center of those activities. Both members of the husband-and-wife team are important theorists, writers, and educators. Venturi is the author of Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (1966), and collaborated with Scott Brown and the late Steven Izenour GAr’65 on Learning from Las Vegas (1972).

When Venturi and Scott Brown announced their gift in November, they said they felt they “could not have chosen a better home for our life’s work.” In addition to the “great breadth, depth, and relevance to our work of the collections in Penn’s Architectural Archives,” they cited the “skilled techniques” of the archives’ staff, the “ample physical facilities for research and study provided in the Library building,” and the “cordial welcome” that researchers receive when they visit or write.

The VSBA archives are a “true international treasure,” said Gary Hack, dean of the School of Design, “and will be an inspiration to generations of students at Penn and scholars from around the world.”

“We are absolutely thrilled” to have the VSBA archives at Penn, added President Amy Gutmann. “We are proud to have them as part of the Penn family, and we look forward to sharing the records of their world-renowned work with students, faculty, and scholars for generations to come.” —S.H.

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