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Haus and Home
SAH/SCC Tour
Saturday, June 07, 2008

Join SAH/SCC at Richard Neutra's Van der Leeuw (VDL) Research House in Silver Lake for an afternoon of engaging conversation and exploration. The place Richard Neutra called home will be open to all SAH/SCC members and friends on Saturday, June 7th, 1-4PM, for a special day that will inform and enliven your experience of the landmark house and garden.

Originally built in 1932 on Silver Lake Boulevard and reconstituted after a tragic fire in 1966, the house is named in honor of Cornelius H. Van der Leeuw, a Dutch industrialist who provided the capital so that young Neutra could build an experimental house for himself and his family. The house is all about living and working close to nature in an urban residential setting.

Tickets are $25 for regular SAH/SCC members, $20 to our Patron and Life members, and $35 for non-members. All proceeds will go directly to support the restoration campaign established by Richard Neutra's youngest son Dr. Raymond Neutra, The VDL Advisory Board, and Cal Poly Pomona College of Environmental Design.

In her book Neutra, esteemed Neutra scholar, historian, and former SAH/SCC Board Member Barbara Lamprecht writes: "While the Neutra homes VDL Research Houses I and II succeed in their self-appointed task of solving generic problems, they are also intimate family portraits. The houses explore a range of issues. How does an architect communicate his ethics aesthetically? Neutra's response shows how to increase urban density in a city; how to accommodate and layer potentially conflicting uses in a house/office; and how to enhance human vitality through an intimate bond with nature."

The three-story main house faces Silver Lake with work spaces on the ground floor, the main living spaces above on the principal floor, and at the top, a small glass penthouse and roof deck. Together, the main house and a one-story apartment to the rear form a central courtyard creating an outdoor "room" at the center of the property. Spectacular views are designed to continue throughout the house, across the courtyard, decks, and balconies, extending space beyond typical boundaries. The house represents the complete integration of so many vital ideas about life and human habitat that Neutra brought to all of his projects.

Of the VDL House, Thomas S. Hines, UCLA professor of history and architecture and author of Richard Neutra and the Search for Modern Architecture, writes: "In addition to its beautifully proportioned and elegantly minimalist geometry, Neutra's VDL Research House epitomized his penchant [1] for the use of new, experimental materials, [2] his delight in naming' buildings to connote larger issuese.g. research house'and [3] for multivalent after-the-revolution' planning in which particular spaces and elements could be later re-cycled and re-utilized for different uses as circumstances changed and different needs arose."

Neutra was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1892 and died in Wuppertal, Germany, in 1970. He studied under Adolf Loos, was influenced by Otto Wagner, and worked for a time in Germany in the studio of Erich Mendelsohn. He moved to the United States by 1923 and became a naturalized citizen in 1929. Neutra worked briefly for Frank Lloyd Wright before accepting an invitation from his close friend and university companion Rudolf Schindler to work and live communally in Schindler's Kings Road House in California. Neutra subsequently opened his own practice in Los Angeles a few years later. He was famous for the great attention he gave to defining the real needs of his clients, whether he was commissioned to build a simple house or a mansion. To determine his clients' needs exactly, he would use detailed questionnaires. Neutra's domestic architecture blends art, landscape, and practical comfort.

Included in the day's events will be a panel discussion with author Barbara Lamprecht, Cal Poly Pomona associate professor of architecture Dr. Lauren Bricker, and additional special guests.

This important combination of house and architect is the inaugural program in a series the SAH/SCC is initiating to explore the ideas architects bring to the making of a house that is their own home. Please join us for a stimulating afternoon at the family home of Richard J. Neutra.

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