Richard Neutra VDL Research House

This experimental house up in Silverlake by Richard Neutra and his son Dion Neutra was designed to demonstrate that “privacy, space efficiency , and progressive design could not only be affordable, but also achievable despite floor area constraints and dense surroundings.” The original house, constructed in two phases in 1932 and 1940, was almost entirely destroyed in a 1966 fire. Design elements that responded to the environment were added in the 1966 reconstruction, including cool roofs, reflective glass and pools and sliding doors.

Development pressures and funding issues continue to threaten the city’s Modernist architecture but  the work of the Los Angeles Conservancy and the Modern Committee, along with the city’s Cultural Heritage Ordinance in 1962, collectively seek to protect this period of the city’s legacy. The tour concluded:

To some, the very idea of preserving Modernist structures is fraught with irony. After all, Modernism by definition rejects the kitch and nostalgia of times past, embracing function and relevance above all else. Furthermore, the move to preserve designs from an era that valued an autonomous, auto-centric lifestyle may not be in life with the city’s increasingly environmental and community-oriented objectives. However paradoxical the goal of preservation may seem in a city like Los Angeles, our city’s Modern legacy is a unique and undeniably important one, deserving of critical attention and thought.

A selection of other Modernist architecture to check out in Los Angeles:

  • The Eames House in Pacific Palisades
  • Kronish House LA (saved by Stavros Niarchos, with help from Brad Pitt)
  • The 1950s “Googie” era Coffee Shops such as Johnnie’s on Wilshire Boulevard, Astro Family Restaurant on Flecher Drive, Holiday Bowl Starbucks on Crenshaw Boulevard, Norms on La Cienega Boulevard and Pann’s on La Tijera Boulevard
  • Pegasus Apartments Downtown LA
  • Century Plaza Hotel
  • The Standard Hotel, Downtown

Get in touch with the author @untappedmich. Read more from the Untapped Cities LA Spotlight.