The American Enterprise

Nevada's fertile valley.(analyzing Las Vegas)

In 1972, architects Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown wrote a book called Learning From Las Vegas, which celebrated the gambling capital's architecture. Designers and builders, the authors insisted, should respond to the tastes and desires of "common" folks, as the architects of Las Vegas bad.

Learning from Las Vegas created a scandal. In a typical commentary from a cultural journal, the Ohio Review described the book as "dangerous," and warned that it "inverts the ideas that many have based their professional lives upon. It threatens those things that we use to distinguish the difference between us, the cultured, and them, the vulgar."

Flash forward 33 years. America's professional classes--especially economists, journalists, and politicians--have even more to learn from Las Vegas. …

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