Join in to celebrate the 91st birthday of Silver Lake’s longest-lived resident, Dion Neutra.
When: Sunday October 8, 2017 6pm to 9pm
Where: Neutra Museum – 2379 Glendale Blvd
Come and share the cake!
Join in to celebrate the 91st birthday of Silver Lake’s longest-lived resident, Dion Neutra.
When: Sunday October 8, 2017 6pm to 9pm
Where: Neutra Museum – 2379 Glendale Blvd
Come and share the cake!
If you’d like to see the visuals for this presentation you can download a PDF of the slides
How long has Rotary International been around?
The Neutra Practice celebrates 91 years of service to the world community this October, 2017. Like Rotary, we’ve always seen ourselves as instruments of service. Founded in 1926 by my father Richard Neutra, I’ve presided over things since 1970, when he passed from us at the peak of his carrier at 78.
I’ve been in position now for nearly 50 years; longer now than he was, during his life.
In the late 40s the Housing Authority of Los Angeles announced a Federally funded new program for the construction of 10,000 units of public housing. Armed with the experience he’d garnered with work on public housing in Texas and San Pedro, Dad was in a position to be selected for the major plum of that program; Elysian Park Heights; a 3300-unit project to be sited in Elysian Park.
Because of the politics it became clear that he’d have to join forces with someone of like experience to be successful. He made a deal with architect Robert Alexander, who’d designed Baldwin Hills Village. Together they presented and prevailed. As the 40s wound down, they set up shop in the garage of the VDL addition facing Edgewater Terrace.
In that space were brought people like Si Eisner, planner, and a few personnel to begin the site analysis and preliminary planning. As that progressed, it became apparent that it would be ideal if a larger space could be obtained in which to collect more people and expertise to execute this very large and complex project.
Dad undertook to find a site and design a building. A spot a few blocks away was found and the design of what would first be called the ‘Planning Professions Building’ ; later the Neutra Office Building proceeded apace. By early 1950 it was ready for construction, which was completed by our favorite contractor, Red Marsh, within the span of just a few months.
In short order, we populated this building with staff, now augmented to about 10 to 12 people for Neutra and Alexander, in a rear drafting room, and associated engineers in the front part of the building. My first wife and I occupied the upstairs apartment during this first 18 months. Our first-born son Greg spent the first six months of his life there.
Because of politics the entire public housing program was aborted by the City of LA. just as our project was being made ready to go to bid. The plug was pulled and we lost the whole thing. In subsequent years the site was taken over to build Dodger Stadium; a blatant misuse of land that had been obtained by Eminent Domaine for a public purpose!
Having tooled up for greatness, the partnership shopped for other joint work. Early on, we did city planning studies for Sacramento, Tulsa, the island of Guam. Later design of the US Embassy in Pakistan, Visitor Centers for the National Park Service, and design for buildings on several University campuses, along with Palos Verdes High School. Also several other elementary schools. In the end, design of the LA County Hall of Records in downtown.
All this happened as the 50s wound down, and the building had become known as the Neutra Office Building. As the partnership came apart in the early 60s, the building was used by an outfit called ‘Lakeside Architects’.
In early 1963, because of a fire at VDL, the Neutra practice was moved overnight to this optional site, and worked there in the front part of the building until the end of the century. In 2000, the project was selected as City monument #640. It was elected to the National Register for Historic Places in 2003.
Many of the later iconic designs associated with the Neutra practice were created in this space over the course of several decades.
I had moved the practice up to my home office studio on Neutra place by the first years of 2000, and began to rent out the front part of the Neutra Office Building and the two rear apartments as such, having inherited the building upon my mother’s death in 1990.
I thought it might be interesting to trace the transition of these usages to a new existence and purpose, the NEUTRA INSTITUTE MUSEUM OF SILVER LAKE. That was launched in summer of 2014. This is what Dennis thought might be of interest to this audience. Let’s see some images…
We see here a view of how the building looked upon its first completion…
Series of some 30 slides, depicting development of the building over its first half century, culminating in how it looks today as NEUTRA INSTITUTE MUSEUM OF SILVER LAKE both from interior and exterior.
To wind it up, some flyers for current shows and books which have appeared in the past couple of years.
This is my baby. I led the drawing crew, supervised construction and attended the opening with dad with all the city officials in attendance. I’ve long decried the desecrations that the Rec and Parks Department visited on its ward. How could all this happen to a City Monument?
Rather than sweat a tortuous fund raiser from private sources, I think the City’s feet should be held to the fire to where funds are extracted from some coffer and it pays for its own transgressions!
I would serve at a reduced rate to oversee these restorations! I would ask the Parks Department to agree to operate within the building as we envisioned it for a year, and then report any perceived tweaks they felt, at that point, were needed to suit their current needs.
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!
Dion Neutra has published the first edition of his autobiography: “Dion – My Life”. A perfect Christmas gift for the Architecture lover in your life.
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.
For more information and to support these projects, NeutraInRoatan.com
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 response to a NY Times article about Marx:
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!
To learn how you can become involved we have all the information on our Volunteer Opportunities page.
[insert donation button here]
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.
Please join us for a closing reception, Saturday evening, October 4, from 7PM to 10PM, at the new gallery/museum housed in the iconic Neutra Office Building of Silverlake
2379 Glendale Boulevard,
~ featuring ~
A photography exhibit and opening reception with the artist JOSELLE CELINE and the architect DION NEUTRA.
Saturday evening, October 4th 7:00-10:00PM.
We had a great turnout for our inauguration on August 21; 250 people at peak! While sales and donations were good, we’re going to need to keep the momentum going financially in order to make this museum/gallery on ongoing reality for the community. Thank you for all the support shown.
To keep the museum open, starting with weekends, we’re offering an opportunity for co-workers to occupy two stations in the lobby. Bring your laptop and man one of these two spots during normal office hours. Participate in the creative energy of this historic building at no cost, and help us hold open for visitors at the same time! Send resume and get details from firstname.lastname@example.org
DION AND THE INSTITUTE’S UPDATED ECOLOGY GARDEN PLAN
RAISE THAT RESERVOIR WORKING LEVEL 15-20′! BREAK UP THE VIEW ONTO THOSE UGLY BANKS!
No matter what part of the world you live in, you can vote to help us influence how this lake transitions to a Public Park within the next five or so years. Sign and get others to join in to overwhelm the City of Los Angeles with interest here, sufficient to make them pause with their plans to give these options serious consideration.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? Thanks for your support. Announce this to your Social Media outlets and contacts for support; make this go VIRAL!
Our 1958 Connell House in Pebble Beach continues to be in jeopardy, despite it’s having been listed on State and National lists as a valued asset. All this has not convinced the owner to back off her determined program of demolition and replacement by a McMansion. We continue to rely on local champion Sally Aberg for current status. She can be reached at email@example.com
URGENT! SUPPORT NEEDED NOW!
Our 1958 Connell house in Pebble Beach is in jeopardy! Funds are still needed to complete its nomination for National as well as State Monument status. The hope being that such would convince the current owner to move on, and find another site for its McMansion!
We continue to support the sterling efforts of Sally Abord, who has organized the fund raiser through:
Everyone; let’s join and pledge $10; more if you can! $3000 needed NOW!
Prevent another Gettysburg!
The recently demolished Samuel and Luella Maslon House in Rancho Mirage, California. Built in 1962 by modernist architect Richard Neutra.
Von Sternberg Residence: early 30s example of pioneering modernist design by Neutra. Destroyed in 1972 because of management issues and ultimately to house tract of houses.
Neutra designed Cyclorama building at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania demolished 2013.
Watch the video below of the $100,000,000 Sho Hondo Buddhist temple erected to last 1000 years in early 70s destroyed in 1998 because of displaced egos in religious community.
The Sands, Las Vegas: early example of Wayne McAllister design removed to make space for larger and more profitable hotel with no history.
Laemmle Building; Hollywood and Vine; 1934. Drastically altered starting about 1940; might as well have been demolished. Was finally lost in a fire in 2008. In Dion’s book ‘The North West Corner: Hollywood and Vine’ he proposes building a design he found that Neutra had rendered in 1926 for that same corner; an 8 story building called ‘the Hollywood Fashion Center’. That could replace the current surface parking lot there, with multiple levels of subterranean parking below.
Fine Arts Building: Cal State Northridge University. 1961. Damaged by Northridge earthquake of ’94; destroyed in ’97 rather than repair.
Pennsylvania Station, NYC 1915 McKim Mead and White . Destroyed 1965 Despite massive protests to build Madison Square Garden; itself being redeveloped as we speak, along with a new entrance to the subway station via a Library building across the street by the same architects.
I got an E from the current owner of our ’57 Nash house in Camarillo. He had an offer he was considering that would tear down this house for a more favorable use of this site of several acres. At 770K, could I produce a better offer by ‘the end of the week’?
This reminded me of just 50 years ago now; in 1972, I got a similar call regarding the von Sternberg house in the San Fernando Valley. I started to contact the AIA to see what could be done. Before I could get back to them, I heard the house had been demolished. Another similarity is our recent experience with the Kronish in Beverly Hills; again, the notion that empty land is more marketable than dealing with an icon. As of late 2016, we had evidence that this house has been restored albeit revised. No details of how, available yet. Site closed to public; owned by a shipping magnate.
I wrote the Nash owner back immediately asking for a stay of execution, and put the word out as broadly as I could. What a difference a half century makes as far as that is concerned!
As this week drew to a close, I had an indication that a realtor friend had produced an offer that had a chance of succeeding with a promise NOT to destroy! I remain guardedly optimistic that we may have dodged the bullet in this one, but there are at least a half dozen others that also hang in the balance. Check out my blog and our petitions to support some of them!
As of late 2016, the Nash house was still intact, albeit saved with many interventions tolerated by the current owners who bought around 2013 and made some adjustments without consulting our office.
As we pass days 200+ still now word as to what’s going on behind that shrouded gate. But at least no news of demolition. Does anyone know the status of Kronish?
Time marches on, with more Neutra’s in crisis. I heard yesterday that the Kraigher House in Brownsville, TX, had fallen hard times. The University of Texas at Brownsville had entered into a lease with the City who owns the site. Under the arrangement they restored the house and were to use it as a visitor center. This worked for a couple of years. Now, I’m told because of budget problems, the University has withdrawn, leaving the house empty. The city, similarly challenged, has been unable to figure out how to occupy it. Transients are reputedly now breaking in and camping out; it will only be a short time before it is destroyed. This is my effort to put the word out to the National Trust and others. Can readers help me broadcast this to parties that might help? Surely the City could assign someone to conduct city business in that venue, at least temporarily?
Closer to home, read a piece I just wrote regarding our Nash House in Camarillo. I’m hoping we may have dodged a bullet, but stay tuned?.There I was told I only had a few days to better a demolition offer; similar to what we experienced with Kronish, but instead of 60 days, I had only 3!
Last year we celebrated ‘Neutra Practice at 85 weekend’ April 8-10, 2011. Richard Neutra founded this firm in 1926 while he was still living in the Schindler House. Shortly thereafter, came the birth of his second son, Dion. At about this time, he was working on his first major project the Jardinette Apartments (1927) in Hollywood. A couple of years later, the Lovell Health House (1929). After a distinguished 40 years, he joined his architect son in as partner and vice president in 1965. Dion has carried on the firm since his father’s death in 1970, now himself for an additional 42 years.
This year, 2012, we mark Richard Neutra’s 120th birthday! Earth Day, April 22 marks 42 years since the first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970, just a week after Neutra’s death. He would have been so proud! The Institute is sponsoring ‘The Neutra 4k-8k run-walk for HEALTH’ on Sunday, April 22, 2012. Your participation and/or purchase of any of the events of this day, aggregating $50 or more, will entitle you to a year’s membership in the Institute. Thank you for your continued support of the Neutra Institute for Survival Through Design. All proceeds will go towards causes of preservation**.
Volunteer Opportunities: Click here to learn how you can become involved.
When: Sunday, April 22nd, Earth Day 2012!
Start and End Location:
Silver Lake Meadow across from the Richard and Dion Neutra VDL Research House II, 2300 Silver Lake Blvd. Los Angeles, California.
Route: Circumnavigate counter-clockwise, around Silver Lake Reservoir on the paths.
Included in Fee: Neutra 8K-4K Run-Walk for Health Commemorative PIN, entry to Award and Closing ceremony.
**This being a charitable event, your donations will be gratefully accepted as such even in the event of rain or if for other reasons the events can not happen as hoped for. There can be no refunds.
—–Event Items go here—-
We need at least 75 volunteers for Sunday, April 22 for various parts of that day and into the evening. Use the email link below to send your resume if you have one, to the Institute, specifying how much time you can contribute. If you’re limited to morning, afternoon, or evening, specify that so we can organize and get back to you. Email: Naruki Nagata for more information.