Denise Scott Brown

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Denise Scott Brown
Born (1931-10-03)October 3, 1931
Nkana, Northern Rhodesia
Nationality American
Known for Architecture

Denise Scott Brown (née Lakofski; born October 3, 1931 in Zambia) is an American architect, planner, writer, educator, and principal of the firm Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates in Philadelphia.[1] Denise Scott Brown and her husband and partner, Robert Venturi, are regarded among the most influential architects of the twentieth century, both through their architecture and planning, and theoretical writing and teaching.

Education and teaching[edit]

Born to Jewish parents Simon and Phyllis (Hepker) Lakofski, Denise Lakofski studied first in South Africa at the University of the Witwatersrand from 1948 to 1952, where she met her future husband, Robert Scott Brown. Lakofski traveled to London in 1952 and continued her education at the Architectural Association School of Architecture. She was joined there by Scott Brown in 1954, and graduated with a degree in architecture in 1955. Denise and Robert Scott Brown were married on July 21, 1955. The couple spent the next three years working and traveling throughout Europe. In 1958, the Scott Browns came to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to study at the University of Pennsylvania's planning department. In 1959, Robert Scott Brown died in a car accident. Denise Scott Brown completed her master's degree in city planning in 1960 and became a faculty member at the university upon graduation.[2] She completed a master's degree in architecture while teaching. At a 1960 faculty meeting, Scott Brown met Robert Venturi, a young architect and faculty member, when she spoke against demolishing the university's library, designed by Philadelphia architect Frank Furness. The two became collaborators and taught courses together from 1962 to 1964.

Scott Brown left the University of Pennsylvania in 1965. Becoming known as a scholar in urban planning, she taught at the University of California, Berkeley, and was then named co-chair of the Urban Design Program at the University of California, Los Angeles. Scott Brown later taught at Yale University, and in 2003 was a visiting lecturer with Venturi at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design. During her years in the Southwest, Scott Brown became interested in the newer cities of Los Angeles and Las Vegas. She invited Venturi to visit her classes at UCLA, and in 1966 asked him to visit Las Vegas with her. The two were married in Santa Monica, California on July 23, 1967. Scott Brown moved back to Philadelphia in 1967 to join her husband's firm, Venturi and Rauch, and became principal in charge of planning in 1969.

Architecture and planning[edit]

In 1972, with Venturi and Steven Izenour, Scott Brown wrote Learning From Las Vegas: the Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form. The book published studies of the Las Vegas Strip, undertaken with students in a research studio Scott Brown taught with Venturi in 1970 at Yale's School of Architecture and Planning. The book joined Venturi's previous Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (Museum of Modern Art, 1966) as a rebuke to orthodox modernism and elite architectural tastes, and a pointed acceptance of American sprawl and vernacular architecture. The book coined the terms "Duck" and "Decorated Shed" as applied to opposing architectural styles. Scott Brown has remained a prolific writer on architecture and urban planning.

With the firm, renamed Venturi, Rauch and Scott Brown in 1980; and finally Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates in 1989, Scott Brown has led major civic planning projects and studies, and more recently has directed many university campus planning projects. She has also served as principal-in-charge with Robert Venturi on the firm's larger architectural projects, including the Sainsbury Wing of London's National Gallery, the capitol building in Toulouse and the Nikko Hotel and Spa Resort in Japan.[3]

Selected works[edit]


Pritzker Prize controversy[edit]

When Robert Venturi was named as winner of the 1991 Pritzker Architecture Prize,[5] Denise Scott Brown did not attend the award ceremony in protest.[6] The prize organization, the Hyatt Foundation stated that, in 1991, it honored only individual architects, a practice that changed in 2001 with the selection of Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron.[6] However, the award was given to two recipients in 1988. [7]

In 2013, Women In Design, a student organization spearheaded by Caroline Amory James and Arielle Assouline-Lichten [8] at the Harvard Graduate School of Design started a petition for Denise Scott Brown to receive joint recognition with her partner Robert Venturi.[9]


  • Learning from Las Vegas: the Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form, (with Robert Venturi and Steven Izenour), Cambridge: MIT Press, 1972; revised edition 1977. ISBN 0-262-72006-X
  • A View from the Campidoglio: Selected Essays, 1953–1984, (with Robert Venturi), New York: Harper & Row, 1984. ISBN 0-06-438851-4
  • Urban Concepts, Architectural Design Profile 60: January–February 1990. London: Academy Editions; distributed in U.S. by St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-85670-955-7
  • Architecture as Signs and Systems: for a Mannerist Time (with Robert Venturi), Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2004. ISBN 0-674-01571-1
  • The art in waste (article), In:Distoriones urbanas / Urban Distorisions, Madrid: Basurama, 2006. ISBN 978-84-95321-85-5 Complete article [1]
  • On Public Interior Space (with Maurice Harteveld), In: AA Files 56, London: Architectural Association Publications, 2007.


  1. ^ "View all information for Denise Scott Brown". Retrieved 25 February 2015. 
  2. ^ Harvard News Office. "Harvard Gazette: Architect to receive Radcliffe Medal". Retrieved 25 February 2015. 
  3. ^ VSBA Homepage
  4. ^ *ACSA Archives, Distinguished Professor Award winners.
  5. ^ Eleanor Blau (April 8, 1991) Robert Venturi Is to Receive Pritzker Architecture Prize New York Times.
  6. ^ a b Robin Pogrebin (April 17, 2013) Partner Without the Prize New York Times.
  7. ^ "The Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureates". The Pritzker Architecture Prize. Retrieved April 18, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Harvard Graduate School of Design - Homepage". Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  9. ^ "Partner Without the Prize". The New York Times. Retrieved April 18, 2013. 


  • Denise Scott Brown, Having Words (London: Architectural Association, 2009)

External links[edit]