Las Vegas Studio: Images from the Archives of Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown and John Gollings


  • RMIT Design Hub
  • Searle X Waldron
  • Boom Studios
  • Museum im Bellpark Kriens
  • Gold Coast City Gallery


Las Vegas Studio: Images from the Archives of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown presented the images and films that were taken during Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour’s legendary 1968 Las Vegas research trip. The archival material was presented alongside a series of video interviews, objects and ephemera collected from leading Melbourne architects that trace the influence of Venturi and Scott Brown on the development of Melbourne’s architectural culture. John Gollings: Learning From Surfers Paradise is a project inspired by Learning from Las Vegas, and was exhibited alongside Las Vegas Studio.

Key Features


RMIT Design Hub commissioned Searle x Waldron to design an exhibition environment that would respond specifically to the spaces within Design Hub, the touring exhibitions and the exhibition materials collected that trace the influence of Venturi and Scott Brown on the development of Melbourne’s architectural culture. The exhibition design was developed in response to key slogans and phrases used within Learning from Las Vegas.


Lessons for the typical

The design of the Las Vegas Studio exhibition takes lessons from the book. While the content of the exhibition is focused on the studio experience of studying the city – the book itself is almost not the objective – learning from the typical is. To that end, the exhibition design reconstitutes the two-dimensional photographs and films into a three dimensional qualitative and atmospheric experience.


Decoration is cheaper

The Las Vegas of the 1960s was a cardboard cut-out city of maximum effects from minimal means where the $100,000 sign sat on the $10,000 stand. There were no glazed pyramids or Van Gogh paintings in the foyers. The materials of the exhibition echo the ordinary and cheap vs phenomena and veneer with liberal use of scaffolding, OSB board, flickering lights, thin decorative felt and plastic veneers.


The city is a set of intertwined activities

Each gallery abstracts a Las Vegas experience with speed and scale. A linear streetscape captures a deadpan view of the strip with roadside signs dispersed sparsely on approach from the outskirts. Las Vegas electric is captured with scaled signage structures acting as both heraldic markers and informative display. Photos from the Las Vegas Studio are salon hung; compressed and distributed, gapped with time, in sequences experienced on the strip. An Oasis marks the pause in velocity where books and media consumed by the Las Vegas Studio form a collection of poolside reads on reclining lounges.


Billboards are almost alright

The studio found that navigation in Las Vegas was communicated via the ground: in the exhibition, the ground is demarcated with zones of diagonal parallel lines indicating cross-overs. The book also found that ‘if you take the signs away there is no place’. We put this observation into practice with signs informing, directing and communicating the way around the different spaces of the exhibition. Revised as a sign, Surfers Paradise is reassembled on a 36m long billboard of photographs taken forty years apart. We also used signs to query the theory in an oblique way – is the Design Hub itself, to use language from the book, a duck or a decorated shed?

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