Learning from Las Vegas, originally published by the MIT Press in 1972, was one of the most influential and controversial architectural books of its era. Forty years later, it remains a perennial bestseller and a definitive theoretical text. Its authors—architects Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, and Steven Izenour—famously used the Las Vegas Strip to argue the virtues of the “ordinary and ugly” above the “heroic and original” qualities of architectural modernism. Learning from Las Vegas not only moved architecture to the center of cultural debates, it changed our ideas about what architecture was and could be.
In this provocative rereading of an iconic text, Aron Vinegar argues that to read Learning from Las Vegas only as an exemplary postmodernist text--to understand it, for example, as a call for pastiche or as ironic provocation—is to underestimate its deeper critical and ethical meaning, and to miss the underlying dialectic between skepticism and the ordinary, expression and the deadpan, that runs through the text.
Especially revealing is Vinegar’s close analysis of the differences between the first 1972 edition, designed for the MIT Press by Muriel Cooper, and the “revised” edition of 1977, which was radically stripped down and largely redesigned by Denise Scott Brown.
A Not So Well-Reasoned Bibliography > view pdf
Introduction and Chapters 3 & 4 > view pdf
Chapter 3: Of Ducks, Decorated Sheds, and Other Mind > view pdf
Chapter 4: A Monument for Everyone and No One > view pdf
ChapteR 5: Reducks, 1972, 1977 > view pdf
- Sally L. Levine, “I AM A MONUMENT: On Learning from Las Vegas,” The Journal of Popular Culture, vol. 45, no. 6 (December 2012): 1337-1339.
- Eduardo Vivanco, “Must they Mean What They Say?” Design Issues, vol. 26, no. 3 (Summer 2010): 83-91.
- Amanda Reeser Lawrence, “I AM A MONUMENT,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, vol. 69, no. 2 (June 2010): 288-290.
- D.J. Huppatz, “Relearning from Las Vegas,” and “I AM A MONUMENT: On Learning from Las Vegas,” Design and Culture, vol. 2, no. 1 (March 2010): 109-113.
- Deborah Fausch, “Relearning from Las Vegas” and “I AM A MONUMENT: On Learning from Las Vegas,” Journal of Architectural Education, vol. 63, no. 1 (October 2009): 158-160.
- John Hill, “Of Ducks & Sheds,” Architect Magazine (June 2009)
- “Preservation Battles Past and Present,” Architectural Record, vol. 197, no. 6 (June 2009): 41.
- David Morton, “’On Learning from Las Vegas’, by Aron Vinegar,” Urban Design Review (Spring/Summer 2009): 4-6.
- Chris Speed, “I AM A MONUMENT: On Learning from Las Vegas,” Leonardo On-Line: Leonardo Reviews (April 2009) > visit site
- Karl Steinick, “Las Vegas jackpott for arkitekturen,” Svenska Dagbladet, Jan 8, 2009 > visit site
- François Chaslin, “un livre d'Aron Vinegar à propos du Learning from Las Vegas de Venturi et Scott Brown,” Urbanisme, no. 365 (Mars/Avril 2009): 90-91.
- François Chaslin, “Las Vegas de nuevo, génesis de un libro,” Arquitectura Viva, no. 123 (2008): 81.
- See Chaslin’s interview/review of my book on the weekly program “Métropolitains,” Radio France, Tuesday, January 28, 2009.