The VDL Research House II and the original version of Painted Desert Visitors Center, AZ have been chosen with 20 other historic sites by outgoing Secretary of Interior to NATIONAL HISTORIC LANDMARKS!
This is the highest level of appreciation for important Historic Sites and is a great honor for us here at the Institute!
The program is presided over by the National Park Service and LA This Week did a feature about the designations
Ironically, it was to this same honor that our Gettysburg Cyclorama Visiitors Center (same vintage as Painted Desert; 1960s) was nominated to, about 15 years ago with 20 other candidates. It was the only one NOT chosen at that time to be so honored!
Instead, some years later, the National Park Service presided over its destruction and grinding to powder on its site in 2013!
My father published his at age 70. I’m starting mine at age 90. This first draft will be augmented in future editions, energy permitting. Stay tuned…
Below is an excerpt from the book:
Writing one’s autobiography would seem like a good time to try and summarize what one’s life philosophy has been like.
Looking back, it would seem for one thing, that I’ve lived somewhat reactively, in that my career was suggested by others (my dad), and I followed that lead, however much I’ve enjoyed the profession since.
I think I’ve basically always assumed things were ‘possible’, and set out to actuate them once the course was set. In many cases, I created something out of nothing, and introduced concepts that the client might not have thought of as part of the basic program. I admit emulating this from dad, who was fabulously talented in doing this, on almost every project.
I like to think that I was basically an optimist and approached the challenge with the best intentions and hopes. That I often was blocked or frustrated was more about the “NIMBYs” in my life than a flaw in the proposed course of action.
Pretty much throughout my life, I’ve lived with a sense of urgency. The feeling that there was much to be accomplished, and perhaps not enough time to do it. For this reason, I’ve been active 16 to 18 hours per day, always seeming to have an agenda yet to be addressed.
I do think I had much more potential to do significant works. Regret not having the chance to find out. This was especially true after my dad’s passing. Kept trying by putting it out there in the late 80s and since, that the practice was still vital and available for work.
Architect Dion Neutra has led the Neutra firm for the last half of its illustrious nine decades of service. Dion’s work and unique experience serve to further secure the Neutra legacy; Richard Neutra is revered the world over as one of the most influential architects of our time.
Dion’s son, Nick Neutra, is in the process of building a multi-structure complex on the Honduran island of Roatan. Dion and Nick formed the team to conceptualize the project starting in 2007. This cooperative effort represents a milestone in a tradition of creative expression.
A feature-length documentary is being proposed that will chronicle this recent chapter in the Neutra story: the tenth island project of the Neutra practice. Dion is concurrently producing a book, The Island Projects of the Neutra Practice.
The Roatan project will be the central element around which the storyline will evolve. The film will explore three generations of father-son relationships, going back to the first Neutra island project, The Windshield House, Fisher’s Island, in 1936. The narrative will focus on the universal challenges and rewards of the creative process.
The current collaboration between Nick and Dion presents a unique opportunity to enhance the Neutra legacy. With funding secured, this film will further document and preserve that history for generations to come.
We became alarmed at the changes made in the lobby of the building. We ask that the historic desk and Museum graphics be reinstated, along with the displays of Neutra projects and books for sale, that used to line the shelves.
Please sign the petition below to pledge your support.
As of May, 2016 word has come down that the OCC board ‘after careful consideration’ elected to destroy at least two and maybe three of the original Neutra buildings the above petition was designed to save! We’d achieved over 350 signatures on this petition to that point, which were obviously insufficient to sway these vandals from their dastardly course!
This latest desecration of some of the few remaining Neutra examples, gave rise to a new Institute Project. We’re calling it
THE NEUTRA PRESERVATION WALL OF SHAME
On it will be emblazoned the names of the aggrieved projects, the date they were despoiled, and the names of the perpetrators, so that they can be publicly shamed for their lack of appreciation of the art objects of which they were supposed to be caring stewards!
Stay tuned for more new on this, and feel free to continue building up signatures on the above petition; 1000 would still be great!
In the mid 50s our office designed a large residence in Havana. Through dad’s contacts, we somehow attracted Marx to offer a landscape design for that project.
In 1955, we were working on the LA Headquarters building for the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union. Dad convinced Marx that this would be a great opportunity for him to show his mural talents for LA. We have a picture of Marx putting the finishing touches on that piece;. the only live example of this man’s work in the US! It would appear that the paint was applied directly to the plastered surface, as opposed to a canvas being adhered.
We have tried repeatedly to make contact with the current owner, who has avoided us; who knows why, but we suspect he does not want to know about this treasure in his midst for fear of the responsibility this might reveal. We’ve reported this to the Mural Program of the City, but no one seems to have an idea how and under what authority something might be done here.
First, of course, it would seem, an experienced archeologist should scrape the white painted surface to see if signs can be found of this art work underneath. But what if it’s true; what to do next? It is not practical to remove this wall with the plastered surface intact, I would say, altho with enough funding anything is possible. But what to do with it if and when? I don’t think this owner would want to be bothered, even if funding were found for a restoration.
Thank you for your continued tax deductible support of the Neutra Institute for Survival Through Design, and its new Neutra Institute Museum of Silver Lake.
Proceeds will continue to go towards causes of preservation, with special emphasis continuing on into next year towards the events to be scheduled for Earth Day week, ending Sunday, April 23, 2017 and ‘Preserving VDL’. This iconic monument will continue to be in need of repairs of all kinds, and desirably an endowment!
If you know of a Neutra building, or if you OWN a Neutra building, please get in touch with the Institute and give us the latest information about the building and its current owner.
The Institute is assembling a database of all current Neutra building owners. Our goal is to create a mailing list for news about the preservation and conservation of what remains of the Neutra oeuvre.
If you have any information, please send it to Dion Neutra. Please include phone numbers, fax numbers, and e-mail addresses if available.
The original motivation for this show was the threat in 2010 to the Mariner’s Medical Arts Complex in Newport Beach, (still at risk). In 2016, we have the threat to several of our buildings at Orange Coast College, where the Board there has declared itself ready to destroy about three of the rare examples we were able to get built there in the early 50s Why? Not to build on their sites, but “to clear the center of the campus for a green area!” or for parking.
This is all scheduled for some time this year. Aside from individual letters to the college, we’ve come up with a petition whereby you can sign, making any remark you care to, about the value to history, to have these examples survive.
This would appear to be one of our last hopes; would 1000 signatures sufficiently impress these folks to pressure them to change course?
The Life and Death of the Neutra Gettysburg Cyclorama Center
In the late 50s, the Neutra and Alexander firm was selected to design what became the signature example of a National Parks Visitor Center. The one for Gettysburg, Pennsylvania became the darling of Richard Neutra together with his architect son, Dion, who acted as Project Architect, throughout the preparation of documents and later during construction, which was finished and dedicated in 1962.