The main idea of the Learning from Las Vegas is not that much a research on sign but more a manifesto for the ending of the authoritarian way of the study of architecture advocated, not only by modernist but also by the classical tradition. The idea of enhancing what is there instead of changing the environment calls for a more un-hierarchical study of the built environment:’’ looking around whenever we happen to be.’’ An interesting method in Learning from Las Vegas is that comparison of the new with the old. How controversial it is to compare the Vegas’ casinos to the Roman churches? But the object of the comparison is not only the architecture itself but everything else that makes what a city also is: the light poles, the signs, the parking lots, the commercial storefront and stores, the gas station.
After reading the Domus texts, I realized that I left the car out of the picture in my comments about Learning from Las Vegas. Both van Moos and Ventury Scott-Brow texts focuses on the car oriented city versus the new pedestrian orientation in cities’ design. I am particularly convinced in the relevance of studying Las Vegas to that regards and many others. That city changes so rapidly and so constantly that it will be interesting to study those changes every 20 years or so.
As I understand Neil Leach point in The Architecture of the Calwalk, he blames Ventury Scott-Brown for their lack of political context. He of course does have a point. There are many ways to study such a phenomenon as the Las Vegas approach to urbanity. But I would rather make the argument that Ventury Scott-Brown’s work was a first intrusion into a culture that architects have neglected, a bit like Bernard Rudofky’s way of casting light on neglected vernacular built environment in Architecture Without Architects. It will remain that Las Vegas is an important case study which should of course be studied in a more critical way. But is it up to Ventury Scott-Brown to study it according to every different angles? Are Ventury Scott-Brown really ‘’celebrating the images’’?