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Richard Neutra on the cover of Time Magazine, August 15, 1949.

Richard Joseph Neutra (April 8, 1892April 16, 1970) is considered one of modernism's most important architects.


Neutra was born in Viennamarker on April 8 1892. He studied under Adolf Loos at the Technical University of Vienna, was influenced by Otto Wagner, and worked for a time in Germanymarker in the studio of Erich Mendelsohn. He moved to the United Statesmarker 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 Housemarker in California.

In California, he became celebrated for rigorously geometric but airy structures that represented a West Coast variation on the mid-century modern residence. In the early 1930s, Neutra's Los Angeles practice trained several young architects who went on to independent success, including Gregory Ain, Harwell Hamilton Harris, and Raphael Soriano.

He was famous for the attention he gave to defining the real needs of his clients, regardless of the size of the project, in contrast to other architects eager to impose their artistic vision on a client. Neutra sometimes used detailed questionnaires to discover his client's needs, much to their surprise. His domestic architecture was a blend of art, landscape and practical comfort.

Neutra had a sharp sense of irony. In his autobiography, Life and Shape, he included a playful anecdote about an anonymous movie producer-client who electrified the moat around the house that Neutra designed for him and had his Persian butler fish out the bodies in the morning and dispose of them in a specially designed incinerator. This was a much-embellished account of an actual client, Josef von Sternberg, who indeed had a moated house but not an electrified one.

The novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand was the second owner of the von Sternberg house in the San Fernando Valley (now destroyed). A photo of Neutra and Rand at the home was famously captured by Julius Shulman.

Neutra died in Wuppertalmarker, Germany, on april 16 1970.

Neutra's early watercolors and drawings, most of them of places he traveled (particularly his trips to the Balkans in WWI) and portrait sketches, showed influence from artists such as Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele etc. Neutra's sister Josefine, who could draw, is cited as developing Neutra's inclination towards drawing (ref: Thomas Hines) .


Miller House, Palm Springs

Neutra's son Dion has kept the Silver Lake offices designed and built by his father open as "Richard and Dion Neutra Architecture" in Los Angeles. The Neutra Office Buildingmarker is itself listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In 1980, Neutra's widow donated the Van der Leeuw House marker, then valued at $207,500, to Cal Poly Pomonamarker to be used by the university's College of Environmental Design faculty and students.

The revival in the late 90s of mid-century modernism has given new cachet to his work, as with homes and public structures built by the architects John Lautner and Rudolf Schindler.

Selected works

Image:Gettysburg Cyclorama Building.jpg|Cyclorama Building, Gettysburg, PennsylvaniaImage:Jardinette Apartments (Richard Neutra), Hollywood.JPG|Jardinette Apartments, HollywoodImage:Kaufman_House_Palm_Springs.jpg|Kaufmann House, Palm Springs, California.

Image:dscn02781.jpg|Schmidt House, 1946, Pasadena, CAImage:DSCN01566|Schmidt House, 1946, Pasadena, CAImage:DSCN0273|Schmidt House, 1946, Pasadena, CAImage:IMG_0570|Schmidt House, 1946, Pasadena, CA

Publications by Neutra

  • 1927: Wie Baut Amerika? (How America Builds) (Julius Hoffman)
  • 1930: Amerika: Die Stilbildung des neuen Bauens in den Vereiningten Staaten (Anton Schroll Verlag)
  • 1935:
  • 1948: Architecture of Social Concern in Regions of Mild Climate (Gerth Todtman)
  • 1951: Mysteries and Realities of the Site (Morgan & Morgan)
  • 1954: Survival Through Design (Oxford University Press)
  • 1956: Life and Human Habitat (Alexander Koch Verlag).
  • 1961: Welt und Wohnung (Alexander Kock Verlag)
  • 1962: Life and Shape: an Autobiography (Appleton-Century-Crofts), reprinted 2009 (Atara Press)
  • 1962: Auftrag für morgen (Claassen Verlag)
  • 1962: World and Dwelling (Universe Books)
  • 1970: Naturnahes Bauen (Alexander Koch Verlag)
  • 1971: Building With Nature (Universe Books)
  • 1974: Wasser Steine Licht (Parey Verlag)
  • 1977: Bauen und die Sinneswelt (Verlag der Kunst)
  • 1989: Nature Near: The Late Essays of Richard Neutra (Capra Press)


Other sources

    • reprinted in 1975 by Praeger
    • reprinted in 1994 by the University of California Press
    • reprinted in 2006 by Rizzoli Publications

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