Guild House (1961)

Robert Venturi
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

In the 70’s Robert Venturi and his wife Denise Scott Brown divided buildings into two distinct categories: the Duck and the Decorated Shed. The “ducks”, labeled in honor of The Long Island Duckling restaurant which is literally shaped like a duck, refer to buildings whose shape and form show exactly its function. The “decorated sheds” are buildings whose ornaments defer away from the function of the building, its only clue being the written signs. The Guild House is the decorated shed at its best. Robert Venturi ornaments the building with elements (large arched window at top half, big entrance, etc) that contrast its intentional structure and program, distracting viewers from the true intent of the building. Of course, we are able to tell what it is by the huge sign reading, “GUILD HOUSE”. The controversial antenna was removed after the building became a senior home.

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