The Big Duck is a building in the shape of a duck on Long Island, New York. It is an early example of mimetic architecture, where the design of the building mimics its purpose or function. The Big Duck was built in 1931 by Martin Maurer a duck farmer who used it as a shop to sell his produce.
The building is made from ferro-cement applied over a timber frame and wire mesh. It measures 5.5 m (18 ft) wide, 9.1 m (30 ft) long, and 6.1 m (20 ft) tall. The duck’s eyes are made from Ford Model-T tail lights.
Maurer moved the building to Flanders, Long Island, in 1937 where it stood until his duck ranch closed in 1984. Suffolk County acquired the building in 1988 and moved it elsewhere before it was returned to Flanders in 2007.
It was the inspiration for the Robert Venturi coined term ‘duck’, referring to a building that conforms to its purpose, and featured in his influential book ‘Learning from Las Vegas’.
Now containing a gift shop, the Big Duck is considered one of Long Island’s landmarks and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.
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