Though its design was heavily criticized by its authors, architects Robert Venturi (1925–), Denise Scott Brown (1931–) and Steven Izenour (1940–2001), the first edition of Learning from Las Vegas has acquired something of a cult status amongst architectural and graphic design circles alike. Envisioned by MIT Press Design Director Muriel Cooper (1925–1994) as a monumental (14.5×11 in., 37×28 cm), cinematic coffee table book to provide an immersive reading experience akin to slowly driving along the Las Vegas Strip, the book was nonetheless republished five years later in a revised, more modest in size, paperback edition using Baskerville Old Face (see below the cover of Aron Vinegar’s 2012 study I Am A Monument for a comparison).
The title, here set in tightly-spaced Caslon 540 caps, is printed directly on the cover, underneath a photograph taken during the infamous 1968 field trip to Las Vegas which sparked Venturi et al.'s controversial demolition of the modernist architectural and urbanistic dogma. The jacket, made of thick, translucent glassine, carries the titles of every chapter in the book, typeset in Univers. Univers is also used, in a much smaller size, for the two columns of promotional blurb framing the photograph.
There has been a significant amount of publishing activity around Learning from Las Vegas and Cooper’s work in recent years, starting in 2008 with the remarkable Las Vegas Studio. As well as putting out a facsimile reprint of the first edition, MIT Press has recently celebrated the life and work of Muriel Cooper in a lavish monograph written by David Reinfurt and Robert Wiesenberger.
Photo(s) by “firstname.lastname@example.org Jordan Smith” on Flickr.
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