Boredom's Metamorphosis: Robert Venturi and Saul Steinberg

TR Number
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Virginia Tech

My dissertation investigates questions of boredom and architecture in the middle decades of the twentieth century through the work of two figures: the American-Italian architect Robert Venturi (b. 1925) and the Romanian-born American architect and artist Saul Steinberg (1914-1999). The topic of boredom in architecture, and specifically within this timeframe, has been largely ignored in architectural history, theory, and criticism where, with the exception of a few articles, there is no consistent body of scholarship on this issue. Looming large in the sterile iterations of various –isms, boredom remains critical in contemporary architectural practice as the production and obsolescence of images becomes ever faster with new technologies. Quickly saturated with information presented in fleeting displays that are easy to produce, easy to delete, and easy to consume, as soon as our expectation for novelty and change fails to satisfy us, we fall back into the loop of boredom.

While boredom as the dissociation of person from place has raised architects' interest especially during the middle decades of the twentieth century, there is no significant scholarship on this topic. In this context, my research looks at the work of two architects who go beyond the attractive rhetoric of boredom and explore its potential as both a critical and a generative tool.

Architecture, boredom, midcentury, Robert Venturi, Saul Steinberg