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The Vanna Venturi House, completed in 1964 and designed by architect Robert Venturi, is considered by many to be the first building constructed in the Post-Modern style.
The house was an intentional reaction against the Modern style popular with architects at the time. Architecture magazines of the time featured flat roof homes with clean lines and large expanses of glass. The Vanna Venturi house, on the other hand, looks like a child’s drawing of a house, with its pitched gable roof, exaggerated chimney, and punched openings including large four-pane window. It is a whimsical building built during an era of (far too) serious architecture.
However, its initial simplicity belies layers of “complexity and contradiction” (also the title of a seminal book authored by Venturi). The house is simultaneously both symmetrical and asymmetrical. The driveway leads straight to the front of the home, but ends just to the right of the entry. The oversized central entryway leads to a smaller side door. The large chimney appears centered, but conceals a much smaller and off-center fireplace. The front gable is split by a recessed window, which allows light into the heart of the home. And the monumental front gable does not continue to the rear of the house.
The house was the first building constructed in the illustrious career of Pritzker-Prize recipient Robert Venturi, who along with his wife and partner, Denise Scott Brown, was at the forefront of the Post-Modern movement. The house was awarded the 2012 AIA Philadelphia Landmark Building Award. Models of the house are featured in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
The model is constructed to fit within the current LEGO Architecture series. While many historic, classical and modern buildings have been featured, no post-modern buildings have been included in the series. Clear bricks allow light to pass through the house much like the real building. A 1x2 grill is inserted vertically to replicate the screen at the utility area. And while a 1x4 + 1x1 tile are utilized as the white lintel over the front entry, wouldn’t it be great if LEGO finally produced a single 1x5 tile for this model?
I was lucky enough to visit this home, uninvited yet welcomed by the owner at the time, during a cross-country drive from New York to California with two friends and fellow architecture students during college. It has always held a special place for me in my architectural education.
Please check out my other LEGO Ideas submission, Grand Central Terminal:
Thank you in advance for your support!