Every once in a while we like to write about some of our favorite architects. Richard Neutra is on our very short list.
Born in Austria in1892, Neutra studied in Vienna before moving to the United States to join his close friend Rudolf Schindler working under the renowned Frank Lloyd Wright. It seems Schindler’s and Neutra’s friendship went much deeper than anyone knew, because later in their lives it is rumored that they swapped wives. “Big Love,” anyone?
Within years of his arrival, Neutra was designing homes that would permanently change the landscape of modern architecture, and this is not a statement we make lightly. One of his first homes — the Von Sternberg house in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles — was built for film director Josef Von Sternberg, and though it has since been razed and replaced by a condominium development (The horror! The HORROR!), its clean lines and indoor/outdoor spaces became some of Neutra’s defining features. The Von Sternberg home also featured a moat surrounding the structure–a super cool, though not totally practical feature we’ve yet to be able to do at LivingHomes. Neutra would later write that Von Sternberg electrified the moat, and had his Persian butler fish out any bodies in the morning. Not clear they found any, but it still makes for a great story!
Here the Von Sternberg house is captured by the late architecture photographer Julius Shulman.
From there, Neutra continued designing a variety of buildings–including two case study homes as well as the Cyclorama Building on the site of the Gettysburg battlefield. Many of Neutra’s structures are considered to this day to be some of the most advanced designs in the field, not to mention some of the coolest looking buildings around.
Since his passing in 1970, many of his works have been renovated–often with incredible sensitivity out of respect for his original vision–including the Kaufmann House in Palm Springs. Perhaps even more lasting than his physical work, though, is the influence he undoubtedly has had on the generations of architects that have and will follow him, including us. Thank you, Richard. We love you.