“Untamed Orange”: Schuller, Neutra, and Semper at the Garden Grove Arboretum

Throughout the entire campus of the former Crystal Cathedral there is only one single note of color on a building. A large orange panel terminates the long length of glass on the east face of the former Garden Grove Community Church, the famous “drive-in” church designed by Richard Neutra (1892 – 1970) in 1960 and … Continue reading

Neutra’s Boomerang Chair: Fanfare for the Common Man

Boomerang Film: http://vimeo.com/100401679 and http://www.vs-neutra.com/# The Boomerang Chair, apparently, is a contradiction. Its playful shape, its materials of cloth and plywood, is not what we expect from a proper mid-century chair. And it certainly doesn’t fit our stereotype of Richard Neutra: a thoroughly pedigreed Modernism: sleek and coolly sophisticated. Shouldn’t his furniture be all chrome and … Continue reading

Two Sister Buildings: America Demolishes the Cyclorama, Pakistan Saves the Embassy

After a well-executed legal battle of 13 years, including a 1998 determination by the National Register of Historic Places of its “exceptional historic and architectural significance,” the Gettysburg Memorial known as the Cyclorama has been demolished by the National Park Service. Dedicated November 19, 1962, demolition of the structure commenced February 18, 2013 with asbestos … Continue reading

From Brain to Building and Back: Two Conferences on Architecture and Neuroscience

Two conferences on neuroscience and architecture, the first in September and oriented to science, the second in November more weighted in architecture and architectural theory, are a comment itself on the growing recognition of the potential connection between the two disciplines. It’s difficult not to compare the two gatherings. Both venues were seminal works designed … Continue reading

The Obsolescence of Optimism? Neutra and Alexander’s U.S. Embassy, Karachi, Pakistan

View of the former U.S. Embassy, Karachi, Pakistan. Photo by Lucien Hervé. Source: scanned from Richard Neutra 1961 – 1966, Buildings and Projects, Thames and Hudson. Camera facing southwest. Dedicated to the Honorable John Christopher Stevens, Ambassador of the United States of America: What happens to an outmoded mid-century American embassy? Given the consistently tortured relationship … Continue reading

Mariners Medical Art Center, Newport Beach, California

Below is my response May 3, 2012, to a proposal that would drastically alter one of Neutra’s best works, Mariners Medical Arts Center. The original project architect was John Blanton, a lead designer in Neutra’s office, an especially gifted designer who while self-effacing, skillfully acquitted Neutra’s intentions. The letter, addressed to the planner in charge … Continue reading

Endangered Ecstasy: The Connell House, Pebble Beach, Richard Neutra, 1958

The facade simultaneously invites entry but affords privacy, shielding both the house beyond as well as the sweeping views from the cliff down to the sea, views privileged to the owner. Note, too, how Neutra slows your journey to the front door, a strategy he witnessed in Japan.  The  flawlessly sited 4,124-square-foot 1958 Connell House by … Continue reading

January 12 Lecture at the Goethe-Institut Chicago: Richard Neutra Bridging American and European Modern Architecture

I lectured on Richard Neutra’s own ‘crossroad’ in America, Chicago, where he arrived “one drizzly morning at the Illinois Central depot” in 1924: Chicago, where Frank Lloyd Wright, Adolf Loos, Louis Sullivan, and Jane Addams all converged in that great city where the American heartland met  the steel skyscraper and fell in love … Please … Continue reading

Is Fallingwater Modern? Not According to the Wall Street Journal

Is Frank Lloyd Wright a Modernist? Is Fallingwater Modern? I was stunned by one part of a short Q-and-A published May 7, 2011 in the Wall Street Journal, titled “What’s So Great About Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater?” It begins, The fabled house Frank Lloyd Wright built for the Kaufmann family over a stream in southwestern … Continue reading