Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Mid-Century Architect Focus: Richard Neutra

You may not immediately recognize the name, but with its glass walls, geometric lines and airy spaces, Richard Neutra’s architecture is unmistakable, and also some of the most important architecture of the modern movement.

Born in Vienna and studying briefly under important European designers like Adolf Loos and Otto Wagner, Richard Neutra first came to the United States in 1923, becoming a citizen in 1929. He briefly worked under another influential architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, before eventually moving to California to work, where his architecture really gained a following.

Characterized by open floor plans, airy spaces, large expanses of glass walls and simplistically wonderful straight lines and geometric details, Neutra’s most defining characteristic was the amazing attention he gave to his clients’ needs and wishes.

By the time he was building gorgeous Mid-Century modern homes for clients, he was already well-known. He could have easily cast aside a client’s needs in favor of his own aesthetic desires. But what makes Neutra such a lasting name on the modern scene was his dedication to creating homes that reflected the users of the spaces. Going so far as to use detailed questionaires to really try to discover a client’s needs, Neutra’s spaces really defined what it meant to personalize a home. Unlike other architect’s work from this time, Neutra’s work rarely gets described as “cold modernism”; his houses, even today, still reflect their main purpose: that of being a home.

Neutra died in 1970, and he left a long legacy of gorgeously designed homes that people from all walks of life try to purchase. In fact, this blog post writer’s favorite home Neutra designed, the Kaufmann House, is on sale currently, for $14 million.

Some of his more notable structures:

Jardinette Apartments
Lovell HouseKun House
Kaufmann Desert House
Neutra Office Building
Perkins House
Painted Desert Visitor Center

Richard Neutra’s life and philosophies provide a great read, and images of his work prove to be inspiring to anyone trying to emulate the spirit of Mid-Century modern into their own homes.
Photographs taken from the New York Times and Wikipedia, respectively.

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