Neutra News


Roberto Burle Marx’s only US example

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.

Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America - Roberto Burle Marx

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.


Looking ahead to Earth Day 2017

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]


Wanted: Information About Neutra Building Owners

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 amazing Neutras in Orange County

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 Preservation Disaster of the 21st Century

The Life and Death of the Neutra Gettysburg Cyclorama Center

cyclorama-cover

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.

Continue reading “The Preservation Disaster of the 21st Century”


Neutra Museum at Silver Lake

Here’s the New Neutra Institute Museum and Gallery

museum1

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 ~

ART IN ARCHITECTURE

museum2

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.

Needed, going forward:

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 dion@neutra.org


Help Save Connell House

Update: 10/21/2016
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 forthecolors@comcast.net

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:

amap1.org

Everyone; let’s join and pledge $10; more if you can! $3000 needed NOW!
Prevent another Gettysburg!


Demolition Derby

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.


Dodged a bullet?

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!

Update: 10/21/2016
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.


Update on Kronish

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!