“10 Buildings That Changed America” to Air on PBS Starting May 12th
Premiering May 12th, PBS will air 10 episodes from their new documentary, “10 Buildings That Changed America.” The show will take viewers inside each building and talk about how they shaped our lives (how we live, work, and play) and the future of American architecture.
One of those 10 buildings is located in very close proximity to our great city. The Vanna Venturi house in Chestnut Hill was designed by Vanna’s son, Robert Venturi. Packed with lots of light, the 1,800 square foot house is a jangle of odd angles, curved planes, and windows layered against shortened walls
“I’ve asked myself, ‘Why is the light so wonderful?’,” said Agatha Hughes, the current resident of the Vanna Venturi House, aka Mother House. “I think it’s because it comes from so many places. Up above you and down below — it has so many angles and planes to play off of.”
Hughes has been living here for four years, having inherited the house from her parents who resided in the house for 40 years. Even on an overcast spring day, the rooms are filled with diffused light.
The Vanna Venturi House has been on the bucket list of almost every architect in the world since it was built in 1966.
The house was designed for Venturi’s aging mother, who lived with a caregiver. When he designed it in 1961, the young architect was kicking against Modernism, with its clean, modular lines, and at the same time making a home where his mother would feel comfortable.
The result is a house full of crazy-quilt shapes. There’s an asymmetrical trapezoid fireplace, a staircase with jutting corners, and a roof split by an empty shaft where the peak would be.
Hughes lives here full time, constantly beset by visitors from around the world. For the most part, she welcomes them, and keeps the house in show-off condition (except for the basement, a strictly private space where Hughes allows her own art practice to get messy). Sometimes visitors request a visit in advance, sometimes they show up at random times.
The house has not been altered during its 50 years. It has the original flooring, original blinds, and original cabinets. Robert Venturi has been consulted every time the house was repainted.
Here is a preview of the 10 featured buildings and more detailed information on the project.
“By the time this show is finished, you’ll look at buildings all around you in a totally different way,” says host Geoffrey Baer.
Read the full article by Peter Crimmins of NewsWorks.org