Visiting architectural masterpieces by the greats can often feel like a pilgrimage of sorts, especially when they are far away and hard to find. Not everyone takes the time to visit these buildings when traveling, which makes getting there all the more special. With weird opening hours, hard-to-reach locations and elusive tours we thought we’d show a selection from our archives of masterpieces (modernist to contemporary) and what it takes to make it through their doors. Don’t forget your camera!
Eames House: The Latest Architecture and News
How do you make a space more livable by current standards, while simultaneously upholding the original architect's design intentions? It's a delicate endeavor, but one that was recently accomplished by a couple of architects in Southern California. Originally published by AIArchitect as "Pacific Coast Sun Rises on Modernist House Restorations," this article investigates the thoughtful restorations of three homes designed by the pioneering modernists Rudolph Schindler, John Lautner, and Charles and Ray Eames.
Los Angeles’ early Modernist pioneers are no longer around to oversee the restoration of homes they designed more than a half-century ago, but their landmark projects are offering a new generation of designers historic case studies in Modernist preservation that grow more and more significant with each passing day. Vintage architectural renderings and drawings, photos, and notes are all ingredients these architects use to summon the spirits of Rudolph Schindler, John Lautner, and Charles and Ray Eames, to name a few, bringing their early works of California Modernism back to life.
I pass by the Eames House almost every day at about 35 mph on my way down to PCH, the sand, the waves, the subterranean tunnels, and the tsunami zone, where LA coughs up its junk on the urban beach, where the Westside comes to its logical conclusion. Sometimes traffic is backed up so far up the hill—this is Los Angeles, after all—that I sit motionless and adjacent where the house should be, but can’t actually see it. I listen to the engine, the radio, the sound of helicopters and leaf blowers. The house is silent somewhere behind a wall of dense tropical flora.
My first actual visit to the house was when I was barely thinking about architecture. In a way it was my introduction to the possibility that someone could do architecture, that it was something one could succeed at. It was optimism on real estate once considered solidly middle class. Improbably light-weight and even painterly, like a Mondrian composition, it sits in a perfectly mundane American yard, like the delicate skeleton of a bird perched over the Pacific.