Richard Neutra Landfair Apartments, 1937, Westwood LA

Richard Neutra, Landfair Apartments, 1937, Westwood LA

Richard Neutra belongs to the architects who in America were leaders of the modern architecture and brought the modern of Europe to America. Neutra, who was born in Austria came 1923 to the USA to study architecture in NY and Chicago and learn from the organic buildings of Wright. He discovered together with his friend Rudolf Schindler South California in 1925, where he also lived in Schindlers innovative house for five years. Both from Austria emigrated architects became business-partners, but separated some time later.[1] His first big project in L.A was the Jardinette Building of 1927 and with his Lovell Health House 1929, he reached international acclaim. Because of this he was the only architect of the west coast invited to the big exposition about modern architecture in the MoMA in NY.[2]

Neutra‘s Style reached his highpoint in the thirties, where he was able through many projects to standardise his architectonic language. He worked many years on a universal form and a modular building-system. Since his years of study in Vienna, his years in Berlin with Mendelsohn and his residence in NY and Chicago Neutra worked with the problem and possibilities of multi-family dwellings. Because, since the twenties the demands of multi-family dwellings in the densely populated centrum of Los Angeles increased. The Jardinette building 1927 was the first multi-family house where there was still a traditional plan. So shows that in the 1930s completed project of the Landfair Apartments a completely modern form language delivered the future impulse for urban living space.[3] The client was Joseph Rabinovich and relatives, who invested in Landfair Apartments. The building of these complexes proofed difficult for Neutra, because part of the construction was built badly by the builder John Hudson. Nonetheless the Landfair Apartments belong to Neutra masterpieces in the 1930s construction.

The Landfair Apartment comprise of two buildings which are located on the south west corner of Landfair Avenue and Ophir Drive in Westwood Neighborhood of Los Angeles, near the west-side campus of UCLA. He decided on staggered row-houses that are always offset from the neighbor house, given the effect of separat but side by side units. The Apartment-Complex that is to the east and to the west aligned, it is comprised of two one story five-room-apartments in the east and six two story four-room apartments to the west.[4] Each apartment has a balcony and a common space that is reached from a staircase and is surrounded by a wooden fence. Built in skylights supply enough daylight in the deep rooms. He integrated his ever reappearing element of casement windows with metal frames, „a module of one meter steel swing windows determines the width of each unit“[5]. Through the universal and constant form of the front a cool aesthetic is built, which materialises in the clearity of the surface. Big windows run along the front and emphasise the horizontal orientation of the building. In addition the windows are integrated as part of the outer shell. So you can say that the landfair apartments are totally wrote in the International Style. „Here is the impact of the masses disappeared and in its place enters the effect of a clean object – or more clearly, a space surrounded by even surface.“[6]

Mona El Amir

[1] cf. Lamprecht, Barbara, Richard Neutra, Cologne 2006, p.13.

[2] cf. Lamprecht, Barbara, Richard Neutra, Cologne 2006, p.14.

[3] cf. Hines, Thomas S., Architecture of the Sun. Los Angeles Modernism 1900-1970. New York 2010, p. 365 & 399.

[4] cf. Hines, Thomas S., 2010, p. 399.

[5] Lamprecht, Barbara, 2006, Richard Neutra. p. 41.

[6] Hitchcock, Henry-Russell & Johnson, Philip, The International Style, New York 1966, p. 42.

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