Complexity and Contradiction, part 2



Today the Robert Venturi-designed Lieb House, uprooted from its foundation in New Jersey, sailed up the East River on the last leg of its two day journey to a new plot of land on Long Island. The 1969 house was set to be demolished in January by a developer who bought the property as a tear-down, until filmmaker James Venturi, the architect’s son, alerted Deborah Sarnoff and Robert Gotkin to its plight.

The couple had been talking with Venturi senior about designing a beach house in the Hamptons, but scrapped that plan to save the Lieb House. They bought it for $1 and got the necessary permits needed for relocation, via two tugboats (on an hourly rate! total cost for all moving expenses reached the low six figures) and a barge, to Glen Cove. Shoppers enjoying the 99-cent breakfast special at Ikea’s Red Hook store may have been startled to see the 1,500-square-foot Lieb House passing majestically under the Brooklyn Bridge just after 9 am this morning.

The building made landfall on Sarnoff and Gotkin’s property around lunchtime, securing a future as a guest cottage next to the couple’s existing residence. Naturally the proud owners threw a little housewarming party for the house, inviting friends, neighbors and local politicians over for hot chocolate and cookies shaped like the giant “9” on its front door.

Learning from Bob and Denise, James Venturi’s documentary due  in 2010, will include a scene of the Lieb House en route to illustrate the transient nature of architecture, a lifelong theme of Robert Venturi’s work. It’s a stunning twist of irony that this tiny beach house was preserved. “Architecture is the most fragile of all media,” James says. “But this turned out differently.” In other words, no deconstructivism involved.


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One Response to “Complexity and Contradiction, part 2”

  1. emilyleibin Says:

    I’ve been going to the Jersey Shore since before I could read, and I’ve never seen any architecture remotely like this. I saw a giant elephant shaped building, and a pyramid made of hubcaps, but this Venturi really changes my view of the shore. I wish I had seen it in it’s original context!

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