With architectural discourse today so focused on the impact of digital design, it is hard to remember that 20 years ago all architects talked about was postmodernism. The discussion began with the publication of Robert Venturi’s Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture and Aldo Rossi’s The Architecture of the City but became more focused and intense with the opening of an exhibition devoted to the theme.
That exhibit, The Presence of the Past, was at the 1980 Venice Biennale and featured a stunning display in the newly renovated “Corderie” of the Venetian Arsenale. That display, Strada Novissima, was a temporary plywood and plaster street, fabricated in Rome’s Cinecitta film studio and featuring facades and back room exhibits by architects including Frank O. Gehry, Rem Koolhaas, Arata Isozaki, Robert Venturi, and an grand entrance by Aldo Rossi.
This truly epic show was organized and curated by Paolo Portoghesi, who also curated the 1982 Biennale, which he devoted to the architecture of Islamic countries. Portoghesi will be making his first trip to the United Sates in decades and will be in conversation with myself and Aaron Levy at the University of Pennsylvania School of Architecture on Wednesday, April 20th at Meyerson Hall from 6:00 to 8:00.
It may not be time dust off your dog-eared copies of Venturi and Rossi, but it is a rare event to have a figure like Portoghesi lecturing on this side of the Atlantic. This event is free and open to the public. To register, click here.