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SAHARA Highlights: Las Vegas

by Jacqueline Spafford and Jeffrey Klee, SAHARA Co-Editors | Apr 06, 2018

In March of 1968, Architectural Forum published an astonishing illustrated article by Robert Venturi and Denise Brown: “A Significance for A&P Parking Lots or Learning from Las Vegas.” The piece opened with the observation that “learning from the existing landscape is a way of being revolutionary for an architect,” a sentiment that seems commonplace enough today but was a provocation in the era of Corbusieran urbanism. In the fall of that year, Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown offered a third-year design studio at the Yale School of Architecture called “Learning from Las Vegas, or Form Analysis as Design Research.” To mark the 50th anniversary of Venturi and Scott Brown’s reconsideration of the value of ordinary landscapes, this month’s SAHARA Highlights include photographs of Las Vegas, Nevada. Most of them are from the late 1970s, showing streetscapes that the studio visited and recorded, many of which have since been destroyed or significantly altered.

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Las Vegas Strip from Spring Mountain Road, Las Vegas, Nevada. Photograph by Richard Longstreth, 1977.

Little Church of the West Wedding Chapel, 4617 South Las Vegas Boulevard, Las Vegas, Nevada, Walter Zick and Harris Sharp, Architects, 1942. Photograph by Richard Longstreth.

Golden Nugget Gambling Hall and Pioneer Club, 25 Fremont Street, Las Vegas, Nevada, built 1946. Photograph by Richard Longstreth, 1977.

Binion’s Horseshoe Hotel and Casino, 128 East Fremont Street, Las Vegas, Nevada, built 1951. Photograph by Richard Longstreth, 1977.

Dunes Hotel and Casino, 3600 South Las Vegas Boulevard, Las Vegas, Nevada, built 1955, demolished 1993. Photograph by Richard Longstreth, 1977.

Caesar’s and Flamingo Hotel and Casino signs, 3570 South Las Vegas Boulevard, Las Vegas, Nevada, built 1966. Photograph by Richard Longstreth, 1977.

Stardust sign and casino, 3000 South Las Vegas Boulevard. Casino built 1958, sign erected 1967, demolished 2007. Photograph by Richard Longstreth, 1977.


Founded in 1940, the Society of Architectural Historians is an international nonprofit membership organization that promotes the study, interpretation and conservation of architecture, design, landscapes and urbanism worldwide. SAH serves a network of local, national and international institutions and individuals who, by profession or interest, focus on the built environment and its role in shaping contemporary life. SAH promotes meaningful public engagement with the history of the built environment through advocacy efforts, print and online publications, and local, national and international programs.

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