Neutra VDL Studio and Residences

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Neutra VDL Studio and Residences

Seventy-five years ago, in Los Angeles, with a no-interest loan from Dutch philanthropist Dr CH Van Der Leeuw, Viennese-American architect Richard Neutra built a radical "glass house" with rooftop and balcony gardens on Silverlake Boulevard. He called it the VDL Research house, after his benefactor. It was designed to accommodate his office and two families on a small 60 x 70 foot lot.

Seven years later, as his family expanded, he built a garden house on the back of the lot. This compact wing had walls that slid open onto a pocket garden to be shared by the addition and main house. In 1963 after a disastrous fire, that left unscathed only the 1940 Garden house and basement of the original wing, Richard and his son and partner Dion Neutra had a chance to redesign the main house. Two floors and a penthouse solarium were built on the original prefabricated basement structure. They applied what the practice had learned in the interim about sun louvers, water roofs, "nature-near", and physiologically motivated design.

It is a place, which could tell many stories. Over a thirty-year period hundreds of projects on four continents were designed there. These included the country's first modern school, many distinguished residences, and important public buildings. At mid century Neutra's influence was pervasive. In 1949 a Time Magazine cover story characterized him as "second only to lordly Frank Lloyd Wright". VDL saw the beginning of the careers of architects who came as apprentices to work there from all over the world including, among others Gregory Ain, Raphael Soriano and Donald Wexler. Photographer Julius Schulman's career started with this office. VDL played host to cultural figures like Frank Lloyd Wright, Lazlo Moholy Nagy, Jorn Utson, Charles and Ray Eames; religious figures like Robert Schuler and J Krishnamurti; scientists like Rene Dubos and Linus Pauling; and to political figures and activists like John Anson Ford, Frank Wilkinson and Vice President Hubert Humphrey.

In 1990 Richard Neutra's wife Dione, left the VDL Research Compound to the Cal Poly Pomona College of Environmental Design

The house is open to the public without appointment on Most Saturdays from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm. Tours are approximately 30 minutes, and are given by architecture students from Cal Poly Pomona. The admission fee is $10.00 per person. Cash or check made out to Cal Poly Pomona Foundation. All Tour Fees go towards maintenance and repairs of the Neutra VDL House.

For more information visit Neutra VDL Studio and Residences

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