ROBERT VENTURI AND DENISE SCOTT BROWN have been saying and writing brilliant, witty, provocative things about the state of architecture for more than three decades--all the while running one of the world's more acclaimed architectural practices. For their trouble, the vastly influential pair has been awarded the 2002 Vincent Scully Prize by the National Building Museum. The couple will pick up the prize (and a $25,000 check) this afternoon in a public ceremony in the museum's great hall, after which, not surprisingly, Venturi and Scott Brown will have more to say in a joint lecture called "Context in Context."

--Benjamin Forgey

At the National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW. Today at 4:30 p.m. $23; members $18; students $10. Call 202-272-2448 or visit


SPARKLE, POMP, EXTRAVAGANT SPLENDOR--all the ingredients for holiday cheer are encapsulated in a captivating exhibition of Turkish carpets now at the Textile Museum. A wonderful selection of textiles woven in Anatolia over the last 600 or so years makes clear why so many collectors get bitten by the Oriental carpet bug and never recover: A huge range of different kinds of beauty and craft invites both instant awestruck admiration and a lifetime's worth of subtle discrimination. From Muslim prayer rugs to Ottoman synagogue screens to courtly floor coverings, there's nothing here that doesn't feed the senses. Even the greatest artists of Renaissance Europe cottoned almost at once to the glories of these rugs: They included superb examples of them in their pictures, as scholar Rosamund Mack will be discussing in "Classical Carpets in Italian Renaissance Paintings: Art Objects and Status Symbols," a lecture that she gives this afternoon at the museum.

--Blake Gopnik

At the Textile Museum, 2320 S St. NW, through Feb. 16. Lecture today at 2 p.m.: $10; $7 for members. Call 202-667-0441 or visit


ON THE OFF-CHANCE that you're looking for something that isn't carols or "Messiah" this month, you might investigate yet another of the Theater Chamber Players' varied and substantial offerings. The program will include music by co-director Dina Koston as well as two other contemporary composers, Luciano Berio and Gyorgy Kurtag. Johannes Brahms's Piano Quartet in C Minor (Op. 60) will conclude the evening.

--Tim Page

At the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater. Saturday at 7:30 p.m. $28. Call 202-467-4600 or visit


DON'T JUST STAND THERE, do something! In the world of improvisational comedy, that's sort of the first commandment. And where Chicago City Limits is concerned, that something is often very funny. The troupe, whose spur-of-the-moment antics have been an continual source of mirth in New York for 22 years, brings its smart-aleck sensibility to Washington for a night of spirited gallivanting in a show called "Revenge of the Reindeer." All in the spirit of holiday merrymaking, and guaranteed off-the-cuff, of course.

--Peter Marks

At the Voice of America Auditorium, 330 Independence Ave. SW (C Street entrance). Thursday at 7:30 p.m. $22. Call 202-357-3030 or visit