Robert and Me: My Life as an Architect’s Wife, by Anonymous.

Author’s Note: This is an “inside architecture” piece of satire that you won’t appreciate without some background. The short of it: Denise Scott Brown is an architect, the wife and career professional partner of Robert Venturi. The built and published works of their firm, Venturi Scott Brown, have been hugely influential in the field of architecture. In 1991 the Pritzker Prize, the highest honor that one or more architects can receive, was given solely to Robert Venturi. For more, read the essay from Design Observer that inspired this post.
Robert and Me Cover
Robert and Me p14
Robert and Me p68
Robert and Me p154
Praise for Robert and Me:
“I didn’t know you could just ask for awards.” – Colonel Pancake
“Give it to me, and I’m not even going to say please. Nice one” – Emma
“Waaa waaa waaa, I didn’t get it either.” – bwd
“I’m not sure this prize, or any other for that matter, is awarded to someone who has “probably worked as hard as” someone else who has won it. Isn’t it about talent and verifiable contribution?” – nicey
“What we are talking about here is a decades old award that she wasn’t included on. Sorry, that sucks. But get over it. She hasn’t been denied recognition. Shes’ got a front page article on cnn for 2 weeks in a row. Come off it.” – andrew houck
“She is probably speaking up now that Robert Venturi is retired and probably mute.” – Frank
“Many people are instrumental in the creation of a single building and they do not all get recognition. The prize was in recognition of the work of Robert Venturi. His collaborators … are not the point. The common thread in the projects is him, whether it was … a cereal box that gave him an idea or [his wife]” – JJK
“Her name is on the door because her husband put it there! And you and I know what he got in exchange. Without him she would be just another architect like thousands and thousands others who don’t deserve the Pritzker.” – salvatore
Afterward: The text of the fictional book paraphrases writing and quotes by Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi. The “praise” consists of verbatim quotes from internet comment boards and represents actual thoughts of real people living in 2013. Links to all source material is located below, followed by the book content in text only for search purposes.

Petition to retroactively include Denise Scott Brown’s name on the 1991 Pritzker Prize []
Denise Scott Brown’s essay on sexism and the star system in architecture (PDF) []
Despina Stratigakos’ essay on Design Observer []
Thoughtful and enlightening comments on a CNN article []
Thoughtful and enlightening comments on a DeZeen article []

… two ways of expressing iconography with architecture.” Bob said. “I’m calling the first way the ‘Decorated Shed’, but I need a term for the other, something catchy, something …”
He trailed off and I could tell he was thinking so hard and I probably shouldn’t have interrupted. But I just couldn’t help myself!
“Duck!” I shrieked. “Duckies always get my attention. They are just so cute, all yellow and fluffy. And the noises they make!”
Bob nodded and rubbed his chin. “Ducks” he muttered. “You know, that just might work!” Then he kissed me on the cheek and sent me away so that he …
… and when Bob was too busy, he even let me work on projects. Most of the time I was just happy to help out handing him sharp pencils and always knowing just when to be ready with a fresh cup of coffee (two creams and a sugar!). But one time I designed the Crosstown Community Planning project all by myself! Sure, Bob made sure all the lines were straight and I had to redraw all the arrowheads and section markers (architects can be so picky!), but all of the ideas and design were mine. I knew I must have done something right when all of the critics thought Bob did it! Then again, people are always mixing up Bob’s work with mine. Heck, sometimes even the two of us couldn’t tell you who did what! I’m constantly reminding …
… is not just my wife, but my collaborator and my equal! Her name is on the door, for God’s sake!” I heard Bob say to whoever was on the other end of the line. I put his sandwich on the desk and went to give him his privacy, but he continued on, saying “This prize is hers as much as mine, and if you want to retain any credibility …” I didn’t catch the rest, and I didn’t even know what this “prize” he was talking about was. But the more I think about it, the more I think it would be nice for history to recognize my talent and contributions to architecture. I have just the place to put it, too: on the shelf above the piano, next to the rest of the trinkets …

3 thoughts on “Robert and Me: My Life as an Architect’s Wife, by Anonymous.


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