critical condition


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Venturi's Lieb (No. 9) House to be moved (or demolished)

2009.01.29 11:37

For clarity's sake, the Lieb House is not among the works published within Complexity and Contradiction; the Lieb House is among the works published within Learning from Las Vegas, 1st edition:

The Lieb House
Loveladies, New Jersey, 1967
(with the assistance of Gerod Clark [who may the first architect to collage magazine people within architectural renderings])

It is easy to explain what the Lieb House is not: It is not a tasteful natural-wood-shingled configuration of complex and contradictory wings and roofs. It is an ordinary shed with conventional elements. It uses asbestos shingles with imitation wood-grain relief, once the indigenous building material on Long Beach Island. And it uses big elements, such as the stair that starts out the width of the house and gradually decreases to three feet on the second floor. Its unconventional elements are explicitly extraordinary when they do occur, as in the big round window that looks like a 1930s radio loud-speaker. It is a little house with big scale, different from the houses around it but also like them. It tries not to make the plaster madonna in the birdbath next door look silly, and it stands up to, rather than ignores, the environment of utility poles.

2009.01.29 13:05

plaster madonna wo bist du?!?!

and you can dance like a prayer, isla bonita

Which reminds me, Somol's take on the Lieb House is a funny read. So where is that photocopy. Ah, "My Mother the House" I think from Fetish.

2009.01.29 13:57

In all honesty, how this story plays out doesn't really matter to me at all, but it does interest me. The house being moved and sailing on a barge will make great documentary film footage, and when you think of the price of entertainment film footage production, the moving of the Lieb House is probably relatively cheap. And there is the notion of someone actually "collecting" a building. This is not exactly something unprecedented, rather not so much a modern activity. Whether the house is moved or demolished, either case will be a historic architectural event. And, of course, a triumphal event will be more uplifting than a destructive one.

Coincidently, the utility wires are still an issue (if the house is moved).

The always present desire to collapse these female roles, and the perspective systems associated with them, is most clearly acheived in the Lieb House, where the attrctively tanned younger mother seated at the entrance of her house combines the aspects of Vanna and Tanya. In the photograph taken from the upstairs living area of the Lieb House, the owner/mother is targeted between the crosshairs of the semi-circular window that serves as the overscaled aperature of this box house with its closing shutter. When framed by the entrance to their houses, from the perspective of the driveway or street, Mrs. Venturi and Mrs. Lieb assume the position of the car; when reproduced through (and by) the inside of her house, Judy Lieb is attached to the car (specifically as its rear wheel).
R. E. Somol, "Les Liaisons Dangereuses, or My Mother the House" in Fetish: The Princeton. Architectural Journal (1992), pp. 61-2.

2009.01.30 7:42

The article linked at the opening of this thread does not say that the Lieb House is in danger of being wrecked if it not off the property by Monday, rather:

The company will begin today [Wednesday] to jack up the house and slip steel rollers under the foundation, said Kendal Siegrist, a manager. By Friday, it should reach the parking lot in Barnegat's marina.
How long it will sit there is anyone's guess. "Maybe several days," Siegrist suggested.
So, it seems while all of the above was being written, the Lieb House was actually being moved down a Loveladies street and into Barnaget Light.
I'm guessing the paperwork for the receiving end will indeed eventually materialize, and the house will sail on--Teatro del Mondo take 2.

Somol's "My Mother the House" really is a funny piece of architecture criticism. Funny in that it takes itself seriously as criticism while actually being very undercooked satire. Overall, what he accuses Scully's criticism of being, Somol then produces several times over--a magician who's tricks rely mainly on the likes of out-take editing. Very superficial and not surgical at all.

Two errors, one typical and sad, and the other just strange. Again the Immaculate Conception was confused for the Incarnation and Venturi did not "substitute the functionless TV antenna for the Madonna that he originally planned to place atop the Guild House." The Guild House was designed for a Quaker institution.

What I see in the picture of the young Judy Lieb sitting on the steps with her kids is a bored housewife down the shore for the summer while Mr. Leib remains at work in the city and only comes down for the weekends.

In substituting his mother for the car, and the functionless TV antenna for the Madonna that he had originally planned to place atop the Guild House, Venturi identifies the female body with the technologies of transportation and communication, technologies largely responsible for the erosion of architecture's traditional stability.
R. E. Somol, "Les Liaisons Dangereuses, or My Mother the House" in Fetish: The Princeton. Architectural Journal (1992), pp. 62-3.

liberty bell
2009.01.30 8:03

Arch.Critical, I totally agree with your last paragraph. Her pose evokes an attractive woman who needs more attention than what she's getting from her absent husband. That photo has always made me uncomfortable; having worked on a few houses down the shore I think it's a common circumstance.

Shock Me, I'm Bourgeois
2009.01.30 8:05

Is it true they're making a sequel to Mad Men called Loveladies? I hear it's gonna be like Desperate Housewives meets the Jersey Devil washed in the aura of '68 and '69.

2009.01.30 12:54

True,, I was more responding to Jim Venturi's "It's still not a done deal", meaning the whole process wouldn't start unless all the ducks were in a row (ducks, ha ha).

I don't know, Mrs. Lieb could have just been staring at the sand patterns on top of her foot, which I do also when I'm "downashore".

2009.01.30 13:29

No, it's not a done deal (or at least it wan't on Wednesday), but the article makes it pretty clear that the process is starting, and the house is probably right now moved off the property.

My thoughts on Mrs. Lieb are in response to Somol's conjuring conjecture of the female figure replacing the automobile in the canonical depiction of modern architecture. (See what I mean by funny?) Granted, Mrs. Lieb may not have been bored in Loveladies, but, as liberty bell concurs, it's not an unlikely circumstance. And, if the bordom actually was there, the context was more than a bit bleek, and I wonder if the architecture helped or hurt.

If nothing else, the Lieb House has a whole lot of story to tell, and it looks like more story still to come. I think that's pretty neat for a little box house.

2009.01.30 13:47

No, not an unlikely circumstance at all. "The female figure replacing the automobile in the canonical depiction of modern architecture"...that's great...from a Voisin automobile in Poissy to a lovely lady in Loveladies.

I also like the bicycle wheel peeking out and the fishing pole and tackle box in that photo...they really evoke lazy summer days at the shore.

2009.01.30 13:50

For christ sake

2009.01.30 14:01

ep, it get's even better. Apparently, Vanna Venturi sitting in front of her house is an updated Annunciation painting, and the "Immaculate Conception" [sic] is happening.

I call Somol's criticism superficial because all he really talks about is pictures and not the architecture itself.



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