Today’s story in the New York Times by Pilar Viladas about the rescue of Robert Venturi’s Lieb House is a feel good story about architecture that makes one proud to be an architect. And, for those who have a jaded view of the architect and owner relationship as a cantankerous affair, this story will restore your faith by demonstrating that there really are people out there in the world who cherish what we do, value good design and will go to the nth degree to demonstrate it.
Designed in the early 1970s, the Lieb House began its life as a beach house on the New Jersey shore. Viladas points out that the modest structure, which Venturi called a “banal box”, caused quite a stir in the community, resulting in a spat between the house’s owner and one of the neighbors that resulted in the the two not speaking together ever again. Then a couple of years ago in 2009 the owner had to sell the house for financial reasons and reached out to the architect and to New York architect Fred Schwartz, who worked for Venturi for years, for help. A new owner, Deborah Sarnoff and Robert Gotkin of Long Island, New York, who themselves were Venturi patrons, was identified and the three parties , including Venturi’s son Jim, Schwartz, and the couple, banded together to save the house. A link to this heartneing story is provided here. http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/08/domesticities-lieb-house.