Lauck House

Lauck House

Lauck House

Lauck House

Lauck House

Lauck House

Lauck House

Lauck House

Lauck House

Restoration of Marcel Breuer’s 1950 Lauck House
Princeton, New Jersey, USA
2008

The house is a restored 1950s Marcel Breuer ‘house in garden’ (Lauck House) built in Princeton, NJ. Its design was based on Breuer’s ‘house in the museum garden’ which was a temporary constructed exhibition house assembled in the garden of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and opened to public view between April –October, 1949. The initiative behind the design was to promote Modern Architecture in America by demonstrating “how much good living and good design can be purchased for how many dollars” (The Museum of Modern Art Bulletin, Vol. XVI, no. 1, 1949), while addressing the needs of post-war suburban living for a family of a commuter. Breuer’s design introduced new design ideas, which have since become common practice in contemporary design of single family houses. The house provided special consideration for children, by separating children area; bedrooms and playroom from the parent’s, introduced a central kitchen which provided views to all areas of the house, allowed multiple entrances form different rooms to designated yards, created a sense of flowing space and flexible zones of activities, and opened the house to the south (winter sun) by a continuous glass façade that extended the inside outwards into the garden. The house was also conceived as an expandable dwelling, which could grow and expand by an additional bedroom and car garage, in response to the growth of the family. Its overall design, the use of materials, colors, finishes and details, and its affordability for the middle income family, contravened the popular conception of Modern Architecture as all white, cold, cubic, and expensive. In the mid 1980s this house received an addition by a later owner, which added an enclosed space to its southwest corner, extending the slope of the roof, while maintaining the form and foot print of the original design. The restoration work done in 2008 restored colors, material finishes, partitions and details to their original. Special thanks to the Rockefeller Foundation which provided the list of 1950s colors corresponding to current color decks (based on color sample analysis done from the MOMA exhibit house). Interior walls were scraped of white paint to reveal the cedar panels which were then naturally stained as in the original design. Using archival material, old photos, and original schedules, hardware suppliers were located, the entrance partition was re-constructed and details re-done. Modern furniture was also used in furnishing the house, to preserve the character of the original design, re-affirming the notion that Modern Architecture can be visually and spatially rich using simple materials and details, and that good design has the power to change old habits, patterns of use and preconceptions on the forms of our habitat.

with Sara Segal

Photographs by Jeff Tyron