Robert Venturi's crucial essays Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (1966) and Learning from Las Vegas (1972) served as catalysts in overturning International Style modernism's domination of architectural design. Promoting "messy vitality over obvious unity," in part through the use of such punchy slogans as "Less is a bore," Venturi spoke for an architecture favoring multiple meanings over consolidated form. He also revitalized professional interest in adapting historical styles and devices to contemporary use.
Working with his colleagues John Rauch and Denise Scott Brown, Venturi designed this house for a family of three in northern Delaware, drawing on the vernacular domestic architecture of the region. The design, he has said, is particularly indebted to classic eighteenth-century barns, but these traditional buildings served more as inspiration than as sources to be literally imitated. In this drawing of the western facade, the lunette screen above and the Doric columns below are distorted in proportion and scale. In actuality these bulbous columns are thin, non-load-bearing planes of wood, as flat as the drawing itself. Symbolic rather than structural, they retain their associative power even when stripped of their functional one, and the facade becomes a stage set for the dramatization of domesticity and the local architectural heritage.
Publication excerpt from an essay by Bevin Cline, in Matilda McQuaid, ed., Envisioning Architecture: Drawings from The Museum of Modern Art, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2002, p. 194.