Second Studio Podcast: Interview with Denise Scott Brown
Second Studio (formerly The Midnight Charette) is an expressive podcast about design, architecture and the everyday. Hosted by architects David Lee and Marina Porteronet, it features different creative professionals in unscripted conversations that allow for thoughtful takeaways and personal discussions.
Various subjects are covered with honesty and humor: some chapters are interviews, others are notes to fellow designers, reviews of buildings and other projects, or casual studies of everyday life and design. The second studio Also available today iTunes, SpotifyAnd Network light.
This week David and Marina of Fame Architecture & Design discuss her background and upbringing in South Africa with Denise Scott Brown, an architect, planner and urban designer and a theorist, writer and academic; His beginnings in architecture; travel around the world; how teaching has affected her life and career; The National Gallery and his other projects are being redesigned; More teeth!
Highlights & Timestamps
(04:36) Bred and raised in South Africa
I say I became an architect at the age of two, because at that age she (Denise’s mother) belonged to that group famous for becoming disciples of Le Corbusier. (09:31)
(32:10) University education before architecture school
I studied physics because it was good to be good at it [I studied] Mathematics for the same reason. I also studied French, Psychology and English. […] I cheated! I deserve to be disappointed, [because] I worked very hard. In Japan, they call them „unmarried nobles” – kids after high school who are allowed to get crazy and crazy before settling down again. Whenever someone says to me, 'How could you have heard of such a thing? How do you know that?’ Going back to that year of supposedly not learning. (34:05)
(45:04) Leaving Africa
I think of my career in long low curves. Bob (Robert Venturi) and I had a hard time when Gordon Bunshaft cost us one of our jobs… and now the developers in London are costing us the National Gallery. It will be converted beyond belief. It makes you cry. But when we (Bob and I) were crying, I said, look, our lives have long down curves and we have to be very patient. My first long downhill bend was Africa. I was afraid to stay in Africa because I could not be imprisoned and then hanged, but also because my father was a developer and there was a man who offered me a job. […] I realized that it was better to go somewhere unknown and that I would be more secure in finding my own way. (45:37)
(59:24) Experience at the University of Pennsylvania
(01:11:48) How teaching saved her
I found my heart filled when it needed to be filled and my students were kind to me. (01: 22:45)
(01:32:25) Teaching with Robert Venturi
I adopted the basic structure of Kahn’s studio there, trained twice as his student, once as his assistant, then on my own…and I did another couple before Bob and I teamed up. The first job I did with Bob was when we were married and he was teaching at Yale, I set up their studio in my design and wrote their work plans and stuff. (01:35:43)
(01:51:37) Redesign of National Gallery
Developers like to have an example of some type of building that is very eroded, so we can use that as a precedent and erode others that you have—we can’t remove Westminster Cathedral, that’s an exaggeration—you’ve already done it in one type of building without people agreeing that it can be done. So they turned our building into a type building so I guess they could do that. (02:03:22)
I am a modernist, I am a modernist because I started as a modernist at the age of two, with my love and my heart and all. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to do buildings like that. I am going to quote their principles… One of them says 'There is a little corner of heaven for those who believe in social concern and the arts’. This is one of my favorite principles. (02:14:04)
(02:17:55) Favorite building
Check out previous editions of The Second Studio Podcast.
„Totalny pionier w sieci. Specjalista od piwa niezależny. Ewangelista popkultury. Miłośnik muzyki. Nieprzepraszający przedsiębiorca”.