Though Modernism is sometimes criticized for imposing universal rules on different people and areas, it was Richard J. Neutra's (April 8, 1892 – April 16, 1970) intense client focus that won him acclaim. His personalized and flexible version of modernism created a series of private homes that were—and still are—highly sought after, making him one of the United States' most significant mid-century modernists. His architecture of simple geometry and airy steel and glass became the subject of the iconic photographs of Julius Schulman, and came to stand for an entire era of American design.
Richard Neutra: The Latest Architecture and News
The Modernist architect Richard Neutra designed dozens of homes in and around his adopted city of Los Angeles, each one invariably rational, limpid, and generous. These qualities were underscored by Neutra’s wife, Dione, when, later in life, she wrote how “[o]nly those, who have lived in a Neutra house, would ever understand how wonderful the daily satisfactions and delights are and how much this experience helps to augment the joy of living.”
Between 1945 and 1966, the Case Study Houses program, following the Weißenhof-siedlung exposition, commissioned a study of economic, easy-to-build houses. The study included the creation of 36 prototypes that were to be built leading up to post-war residential development. The initiative by John Entenza, editor of Arts & Architecture magazine, brought a team to Los Angeles that featured some of the biggest names in architecture at the time, including Richard Neutra, Charles & Ray Eames, Pierre Koenig, and Eero Saarinen, among others.
The program's experiment not only defined the modern home and set it apart from its predecessors, but it also pioneered new construction materials and methods in residential development that continue to influence international architecture to this day. Take a detailed look at some of the program's most emblematic work together with recommendations for facing contemporary challenges.
The Bailey house—one of Richard Neutra’s four Case Study designs for Arts & Architecture—forms one of five Bluff houses, standing high above the ocean. The brief was to create a low-budget home for a young family, with just two bedrooms, but offering the possibility of expansion as time went by (which did in fact transpire; additional Neutra-designed wings were later built).
Neutra employed the same indoor-outdoor philosophy that can be seen at work in his unbuilt Alpha and Omega houses, using large sliding glass doors to create light and a visual sense of space, as well as ensuring that the house physically opened up to, as he put it, “borrow space from the outdoors.” With this sunny Californian ocean-view setting, it made perfect sense to use the back garden and terrace as living and dining room.
Of the four homes designed by Richard Neutra for the Case Study Houses program, post-war thought experiments commissioned by Arts & Architecture, only one was ever realized. In the imaginary village of the program's many unbuilt homes, next to #6, the Omega house, stands #13, named Alpha. Archilogic’s 3D model gives us a unique chance to experience this innovative concept home.
Each of Neutra’s projects was designed for a family of five, and each reveals his psychoanalytic approach to architecture, in which the house itself is an intimate part of family relationships, as important as the personalities involved. (Neutra was personally acquainted with Freud, and a committed follower of birth trauma theorist Otto Rank.) Underlining this Freudian view, his imaginary clients are not just neighbours—they are related; Mrs Alpha being sister to Mrs Omega.
Secluded behind a screen of tall bamboo shoots in West Hollywood, Los Angeles, the Kings Road House may be considered the first home ever built in the Modernist style. Designed by Rudolf Schindler in 1921, the architect’s use of tilt-slab concrete construction (highly innovative at the time) and an informal studio layout, set it apart from its contemporaries; indeed, the design would set the tone for other Modernist residential design for decades.
This 3D model is as close as you can get to the real thing, as Omega House is one of the few Case Study Houses that was never built. Presented early in the case study program of Arts & Architecture magazine in 1945, it presents one of the most innovative design concepts in the series, one you can now explore in your browser.
The architect, Richard Neutra, was a celebrity in his own lifetime, and among the most esteemed of the high modernists. Neutra was born in Vienna and already over 30 when he arrived in America in 1923. He worked for Erich Mendelsohn, for Frank Lloyd Wright, and briefly with Rudolph Schindler. Many of his commissions were domestic houses, structures that he managed to make wonderfully photogenic. Neutra carried himself with some of the aristocratic manner of a Mies van der Rohe, but tempered by the lively west coast egalitarianism of Charles and Ray Eames (link to previous project). He made the cover of Time Magazine in the forties, and might be one of the only prominent architects ever to build a drive-in church. Perhaps most remarkably, Ayn Rand wrote the screenplay to The Fountainhead whilst living in a house designed by Neutra.
Join us for another portrayal of one of America’s greatest architects: Richard Neutra. The Oyler House: Richard Neutra’s Desert Retreat explores how Neutra, considered the “father of California Modern architecture,” came to befriend this modest small-town family and how he was inspired by the site’s stunning desert setting, which Neutra compared with the grandness of the mystical Gobi Desert.
In the latest episode of Section D, Monocle 24's weekly review of design, architecture and craft, the team visit Richard Neutra's iconic modernist Neutra VDL Studio residential complex and Residences in Los Angeles. Though Modernism has often been criticised for imposing universal rules on people and areas, it was Neutra's intense client focus that won him acclaim.
The world of architecture is small. So small in fact, that Rem Koolhaas has been credited with the creation of over forty practices worldwide, led by the likes of Zaha Hadid and Bjarke Ingels. Dubbed “Baby Rems” by Metropolis Magazine, this Koolhaas effect is hardly an isolated pattern, with manifestations far beyond the walls of OMA. The phenomenon has dominated the world of architecture, assisted by the prevalence and increasing necessity of internships for burgeoning architects.
In a recent article for Curbed, Patrick Sisson dug into the storied history of internships to uncover some unexpected connections between the world's most prolific architects. With the help of Sisson's list, we've compiled a record of the humble beginnings of the household names of architecture. Where did Frank Gehry get his start? Find out after the break.
Happy Fourth of July! In recognition of Independence Day in the United States, ArchDaily has assembled six of our favorite "American Classics." Featuring projects by Louis Kahn, Mies van der Rohe, Richard Neutra, Paul Rudolph, Eero Saarinen, and Richard Meier, each of these canonical works occupies a prominent place in twentieth-century American architecture. See them all after the break.
The opening of the exhibition American Perspectives: From Classic to Contemporary presents the hand-drawn worlds of prominent American architects and architectural draftsmen. The art of architectural representation in the USA, particularly at the beginning of the 20th century, reached heights of originality and perfection, which still stands out today. On show will be works by Frank Lloyed Wright, Richard Neutra, Lebbeus Woods and Achilles Rizzoli.
Sketch to Structure unfolds the architectural design process to show how buildings take shape. With sketches, plans, blueprints, renderings, and models from the Heinz Architectural Center collection, this exhibition reveals that architectural design, from initial concept to client presentation, isn’t straightforward.
If you don't have access to an architecture library (and even if you do), sifting through shelves can take hours. Buying books can be even more painful — for your wallet, at least. Instead, why not browse this list of 25 books that are all free and easily accessible online? Some are well-known classics of architecture literature, but we hope you find a few surprises as well.
In this interesting article for the Financial Times, Edwin Heathcote dissects two Hollywood homes that are infamous as the homes of slick movie bad guys. The Lovell Health House designed by Richard Neutra appeared in LA Confidential as the home of pornographer and pimp Pierce Patchett; the Sheats Goldstein Residence appeared in The Big Lebowski - again as the home of a pornographer - and was designed by none other than "Hollywood's favourite architect" John Lautner. Heathcote probes the two architects' design influences and ideas, and of course offers an explanation as to why ""bad guys always seem to get the best houses". You can read the full article here.
The mid-century modern master, Richard Neutra was well known for his cutting edge modernism. Since Julius Shulman immortalized his houses in his iconic photographs, Neutra's bright, airy homes have widely been seen as the pinacle of modernism and desirability. One problem though, they're in high demand and it's not exactly like they're making any more Neutra buildings; in fact, quite the opposite is true and as a result they have become a pretty expensive commodity.
Read more about how to get your very own Neutra home after the break...
A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image.
Community pressure has swayed the owners of Richard Neutra‘s Kronish House to postpone plans for demolition, and has also prompted the city of Beverly Hills to draft legislation to preserve its architectural history. The house been spared until at least October 10 in order to give community activists time to devise a plan for its restoration. In a related, ground-breaking action the Beverly Hills City Council has asked the city’s Planning Commission to enact a first-ever historic-preservation ordinance.
The Architecture City Guide series heads to the West Coast this week. Los Angeles area is huge and it was nearly impossible to narrow down 12 buildings for this weeks list. Here’s what we suggest visiting if you are in LA, but we want to know what additional buildings you think we should add to our list! Visit the comment section and provide your can’t miss buildings in LA.