How are you spending your Saturday? Why not meander through the home and studio of the famous mid century modern architect, Richard Neutra! By walking into a piece of history, you can make a step towards preserving this iconic building.
Photo by Julius Schulman of Neutra looking over the Silver Lake Reservoir
The rich history within the compound is what make this space in Los Angeles so worthy of the much needed restoration. Not only did it entertain and inspire people like the Frank Lloyd Wright, alongside Charles and Ray Eames; it incoprorated International Style and California modern design, with innovation at every detail.
Richard Neutra's VDL Studio and Residences were built in three phases between 1932 and 1966. Named VDL after it's benefactor, Van der Leeuw, who loaned Neutra $10,000 (with no interest) for the project. Neutra saw this as a chance to put his philosophies to the test. He set out to prove “human beings, brought together in close proximity, can be accommodated in very satisfying circumstances, taking in the precious amenity called privacy.”
The first phase introduced a modern glass box home and studio. It featured modern urban design, new building materials and built-in furniture. During the second phase, a garden house was added to the back of the lot. This compact wing had walls that slid open onto a pocket garden and functioned as a shared space, but with plenty of places for privacy. The third phase occurred after a fire destroyed most of the property in 1963. The house was rebuilt with some improvements by Dion, son of Neutra, while his father oversaw the project. This time they were able to use their learned knowledge to make use of seriously innovative climate-sensitive elements like rooftop cooling pools and automated sun louvers.
Now it seems the VDL landmark is in it's fourth phase. In 1990, Neutra's widowed wife Dione, left the compound to Cal Poly Pomona College of Environmental Design. Together the faculty and students preserve and maintain the property, to the best of their ability. In order to raise funds for the large cost to restore and regular upkeep, the buildings have been opened to the public for tours on Saturdays. In fact, it is the only Neutra residence accessible to the community, aside from exterior views or temporary special events. They have also added an artist residency program to encourage visits and expose more artists.
In a campaign to raise additional funds of up to $1 million, a Julius Shulman photograph of Neutra sitting on the rooftop terrace in 1966 will be available for purchase at www.neutra-vdl.org. The prints are numbered and signed by Shulman and sell for $2,000 apiece (photo pictured above).
You can also find more information from Press Telegram article by Sandra Barrera