Discussion: Venturi (2019)

Discussion: Venturi

This is a tiered assignment. After reading the excerpt provided through the course website, completing the worksheet and sending it to the graduate assistant, continue with this discussion. iYour participation is requested according to this schedule. Note: responses should not exceed 125 words.

First response: What do you think is Venturi’s most important criteria for evaluating buildings? What evidence can you provide from the text to support your idea?

Follow-up comment: Engage with a few of your peers. Whose ideas can you support and expand upon with more information? Whose ideas do you want to challenge, and based on what evidence? In developing your responses consider:

  • What comments could you make or questions could you raise that would deepen or move the conversation forward?
  • What among these posts was particularly helpful or interesting to you and why
  • What ideas require more clarification? Pose questions that will help to clarify any points that are not clear.
  • What new questions arose and what questions remain?

Summary/takeaway: After reviewing the whole of the discussion, offer a summary statement of the views expressed, and draw the discussion to a conclusion.  In developing your responses consider:

  • What is the general consensus of the group, and is it founded on good evidence?
  • What provocative, outlier notions were suggested that help focused the group’s understanding by challenging other ideas?
  • What insights did you gain from reflecting on this work through the eyes of yourcolleagues?


  1. Reply
    Matthew Thompson April 18, 2019

    From reading Venturi’s writings, I believe that he finds the complexity of a building’s meaning and how it is shown rather then a building’s obvious form that represents the function. “I am for richness of meaning rather than clarity of meaning”.

  2. Reply
    Hailey Provo April 19, 2019

    Venturi starts by saying “I like complexity and contradiction in architecture” and that is exactly what he looks for in a building. And by that he means that he likes things that rich in meaning even if it means it is not easy to look at. He also says that architecture in its self is complex and contradiction with all the components that make a building function so the building form and design should reflect it. And Venturi is okay with a building being uneasy to look at as long as it is complex because it is reflexing all the complexities of its structure and function.

    • Reply
      Jonathan Hiller April 22, 2019

      Venturi believes in the strong connotations that people already have in architecture thanks to its rich past and believes that these are a great way to make architecture more relatable or as a means to confuse the audience and use these prepositions in different ways that are not common, Like his chimney in the Venturi house or the stairwell that goes nowhere. He is in search of the complex because he believes that this best reflects the functions that architecture is accomplishing.

    • Reply
      JhenniferAmundson April 29, 2019

      I’m not sure what you mean by a building being “uneasy” to look at. But you are right in seeing his value for both the building’s formal nature, and its difficult function, as being “richer” if they come into conflict–that only makes the building more “valid.” And also the idea of symbolism from the past, as well as the commercial present, make the building relatable(I don’t think “confusing” people is really a goal you see in his work.)

  3. Reply
    Allyson Smith April 19, 2019

    I believe that Venturi’s most important criteria is that the function of a building is important, but the idea to try new things is key in creating new design. Architects should not be afraid of new concepts, and we should embrace them rather than run away from them. Venturi is trying to encourage the risk of attempting something new and not as easy to complete. When he is talking about architecture as a whole he says, “It must embody the difficult unity of inclusion rather than the easy unity of exclusion.” He is almost trying to motivate those who are wanting to defy the odds.

    • Reply
      Robyn Lombard April 22, 2019

      I agree completely that architects should not be afraid of the unknown, or of new concepts. Venturi stressed that we shouldn’t conform to the orthodox nor conform a building to one thing by the terms we use. But, within this conversation about complexity, trying new things, and creating a unity within those things there are questions Venturi would ask. So then, do we just search after new things, including everything just merely in an effort to break tradition? To defy the “norm”? There needs to be a intentional inclusion.

    • Reply
      Alex Karidas April 22, 2019


      I agree with your interpretation of the exert when you said that the function is most important. I think Venturi was trying to get architects to expand more on what they knew and challenged them to do something they didn’t know. They quote I found to be powerful because, as you said it defies the odds of architecture. So often we get comfortable in our design and are unwilling to change it or our ways of thinking about design. You captured what Venturi was getting at in regards to how deign should be 2 halves of the same whole rather than just one sided.

    • Reply
      Nate Madison April 22, 2019

      You touched on Venturi’s desire for function and newness in architecture, which was a very central theme in the piece. I think Venturi was driving that functionality should inspire the form. To him, a careful balance of concept, material use, theory, form, and function is what makes a building great.

      “Its truth must be in its totality or its implications of totality. It must embody the difficult unity of inclusion rather than the easy unity of exclusion. More is not less.”

      To Venturi, newness was important, but it was only a part of the “rich architecture” he sought to pursue.

    • Reply
      Teddy Kruzich April 22, 2019

      I think this is a great summary of what the excerpt says. I think you described what Venturi would call complexity and contradiction without using that specific wording. I also thought Robyn brought up a great point of the ‘why’ behind the what. He says, “But an architecture of complexity and contradiction has a special obligation toward the whole: its truth must be in its totality or its implications of totality”. I think this means that that he believes architecture should encompass the totality, or everything like society, truth, and culture, which is anything but simple. Its complex, and contradictory.

    • Reply
      JhenniferAmundson April 29, 2019

      I’ll encourage you all to revisit the “function” issue. Where do you think he says this is the most important thing? I think on reviewing the text, you’ll see that he is very clear in saying that the three Vitruvian criteria (function, structure, “delight”) are EQUALLY valid and important. If any one of them was more important, he could not say that architecture is “necessarily” complex/contradictory.
      Also, I do not see evidence of “newness” for “newness’ ” sake. Where are you getting this? If anything, he is calling for a return to recognizable symbolism that had been absent from a lot of architecture during the decades before he wrote this book in1966. Remember that the architecture he is criticizing, and that provides the inspiration for his theory (as it suggests what needs to be abandoned), is a particular strain of “orthodox” Modernist architecture. Not all architecture. He is very clear about good stuff that is worthy of architects’ attention.

    • Reply
      Shawn Bandel April 29, 2019

      I strongly agree with your statement about Venturi encouraging architects to embrace new precedent rather than “run away from it”. One of the main things that Venturi mentions is his love for contradiction and complexity. When you address the “harder” qualities of architecture I believe this is possibly what you could be referring to. This is why Venturi encouraged architects to approach this concept, because complexity and contradiction was never associated with architecture before.

  4. Reply
    Ben Toure April 19, 2019

    I think, Robert Venturi’s belief was that modernist movement in their desire to break from traditional architecture have failed to maintain “richness” in architecture which traditional architecture have achieved from complexity in design. Therefore, For Venturi the post modernist movement should strive to achieve richness through complexity in design, as he would say: “I am for richness of meaning rather than clarity of meaning.”

    • Reply
      JhenniferAmundson April 29, 2019

      Yes; it is the Modernists that have gone astray by becoming irrelevant in their “pure” designs that are, to his thinking, dishonest, and invalid.

  5. Reply
    Joseph Soetermans April 19, 2019

    Venturi seemed to believe that the most important criteria for judging a building was by its ability to possess many mixed parts, theories, and underlying meanings for each part. In a way, he believes that the more elements of the Sublime we add to a building, combined with the experimentation of space and form with a building, we have a truly “interesting” structure. In summary, he judged a building by how interestingly “complex” it was. If it was able to be as counteractive as it was cohesive to Modern principals of architecture, it was an interesting structure.

    • Reply
      Rachel Norgren April 22, 2019

      Joe, I agree with what you have said. Besides being a architecture theorist, Venturi also designed a good amount of buildings. If you look up images of his work he did indeed design complex buildings with intricate parts to them. This is consistent what you have said and what the article discusses. I think that the first sentence answers the question for what criteria he uses to evaluate buildings. He said “I like complexity and contradiction in architecture.”

    • Reply
      Alex Karidas April 22, 2019


      I found it interesting when you said the most important criteria for a building was possessing mixed parts. I think as designers we often lock ourselves into specific styles and elements exhibited within those styles. Here you are identifying the means to explore beyond that. I am curious what you meant when you said “counteractive”. What makes a structure counteractive.

    • Reply
      JhenniferAmundson April 29, 2019

      Joseph you are right, his “most important” criteria is a combination of criteria–ensuring that architecture embraces, fully, the complexity that arises from serving function, structure, and “delight.”But it is a complexity that arises from these traditional norms–not for the sake of being “interesting” (this is a Modernist trait that he would disparage.)

  6. Reply
    Otiniano-Ponti, Luciano April 19, 2019

    First Response:
    I think the most important criteria from Venturi would be that the complexity of it has to be included no matter what. Like he said, more is not less, is better to include than excluding. Complexity in contradiction has to be included in architecture in order for it to achieve its maximum potential, including aspects from the past and aspects from today. Modern architecture needs to be complex

    • Reply
      Caleb Jones April 22, 2019

      I think you’re right on what Venturi was getting at. Through his eyes, architecture ought to incorporate as many methods and features as it can. This is because of where we are currently at with architecture. We have all of our precedents and features, but so often if an architect uses one style, he skips over all the other features. I think that is what Venturi was trying to avoid and in turn, why he put so much time and effort into the Vanna Venturi house. I’m unsure if Venturi was aiming to make the building complex for the sake of complexity, but instead, I think that complexity may have been the side effect/result of utilizing so many different aspects and styles.

    • Reply
      Jonathan Hiller April 22, 2019

      Follow up. I believe that Venturi was trying to stray from the rules set down by the modernist movement and the ideas of simplicity it encompassed. I love that you mentioned that he did not as less s more because he even stated less is bore. He believed that architecture did not have to be straight forward or pure but that it must be ambiguous.

    • Reply
      Matthew Hamon April 22, 2019

      I agree with what Luciano has said. He did really believe in having more ornament on the building and that it made much more sense to have more ornament instead of a minimalist structure. A quote that really stuck for me was that “Less is a Bore” how he was tired of the rules and regulations of modern architecture and thought that buildings should have more going on with them. His new form of modernism feels more welcoming and homey in my opinion than the modern boxes that were constructed during the modernist time period.

    • Reply
      JhenniferAmundson April 29, 2019

      Complexity yes, but not for its own sake. Jonathan you are on the right track : Venturi rejects Modernist “orthodoxy” that requires a technical purity, which Venturi says cannot exist in a valid architecture that actually accomplishes all of the difficult things that a building needs to do.

  7. Reply
    Dermeei Perez April 22, 2019

    Venturi gave lots of specifications as to what he looked for in a building but overall the first sentence sums a lot of it up he liked “complexity and contradiction in a building”. He believed that “more is less” meaning that the more you add onto a building the more complex it is made because the architect needs to make sure that the parts of the building are coherent. As le Cobusier said in the last reading “architects have been asleep” and I think Venturi thinks the same he believes architects have not mastered many of the things others have such as the experience which is created by art.

  8. Reply
    Stephen Bishop April 26, 2019

    On the whole, there is an overall consensus that Venturi believed in a diversity of thought, practice, and concept when it came to architecture, this is in accordance with his writings. Some exceptions to this are in the thoughts that only complexity or contradiction respectively is important when together is what Venturi was getting at. Looking at the forum one can see common threads of thought, however, the slight differences in thought are intriguing and show how differently people can interpret the same source.

  9. Reply
    Dallas Colburn April 28, 2019

    The group seems to generally agree that Venturi focused on the complex. He disapproved of the current architecture being built, and wanted to make architecture more than boxes. He believed that architecture should be works of art that combine many pieces into one work. The building should be functional, but also make the viewer think about what they are looking at. Some interesting ideas suggested were the “Less is a Bore”. This is a contradiction to some of the previous architects who believed in having little to no ornament and relying on the structure. This discussion has helped me to realize that the importance of parts of a building. The building may be one cohesive structure in the end, however each part plays its own role in contributing to the whole.

  10. Reply
    Dana Chew April 29, 2019

    What is the general consensus of the group, and is it founded on good evidence?
    What provocative, outlier notions were suggested that help focused the group’s understanding by challenging other ideas?
    What insights did you gain from reflecting on this work through the eyes of yourcolleagues?

    As a summary, many people agree upon the idea that Venturi saw beauty in things of variety and especially complexity. When something is straightforward, it becomes boring. There should be ambiguity, that evokes multiple responses. There is many quotes from Venturi that defend this, such as him directly saying I like complexity and contradiction. There are a few people who said that function is most important to Venturi, but most of what he talks about is appearance. From this, we see the importance of how architecture affects people in many ways, and according to Venturi, the more obscure the better. From my colleagues, I’ve gained that people are very welcoming to complexity.

    • Reply
      JhenniferAmundson April 29, 2019

      Not only that, but Venturi would reject that buildings really can be “straightforward:” if a building looks too simple and pure, it’s probably failing at one (or more) of the basic criteria (usually structure or meaning). You are right to turn the conversation away from function; he does not say this is most important, since by his own definition, there is no single most important thing–architecture must do all kinds of things, thus the complexity (and contradictions).

  11. Reply
    Gregory Boyce April 29, 2019

    The most common words found in all of these statements and replies is the words complex and functional, and i think that is exactly the way this document should be read and summarized. It should always be taken into consideration every part of a building, including the necessary but “ugly” parts of the building. This is what Venturi looks for in a “beautiful” building, and we should also take it into consideration in our own architectural studies

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