Alamitos Intermediate School

Julius Shulman photography archive, 1936-1997.

Alamitos Intermediate School


Although the school is informed by the same principles as Neutra’s early schools, this commission was part of a larger national need to create new classrooms quickly for the children of World War II American veterans. It afforded Neutra a rich opportunity to exploit cheap, prefabricated, modular materials in a bolder, more daring design strategy than his earlier designs, but that now harnessed the capabilities of later 20th-century materials. It was situated in an orange grove, and discrete classroom buildings were punctuated by garden courts where existing orange trees in their original grid were to remain. Wide walkways covered by corrugated plastic or metal were pulled away from the ganged classrooms. Supported by beams extending from the buildings, they became a protective horizontal thread running through the relaxed compound of airy, one-story gabled buildings. Frankly exposed, angled steel bents are the primary structural support for the grouped classrooms with a secondary infill wood post-and-beam system. These modules of ‘bent plus infill plus cladding’ could be added on the end as needed in the future. The tapered ends of the beam portion of the bent appear to pierce each building’s envelope, comprised of a series of clerestories above tall, sliding glass-and-infill panels. These elegant tapers support lightweight panels running parallel to and outside the building, evenly spaced apart so strong sunlight is broken up but not barricaded from the children. At about the same time Albert Frey was applying similar ideas to school buildings in Palm Springs, though the two architects knew little of each other’s work.

Project Detail

Year Built


Project Architect

Neutra & Alexander


12381 Dale Street
Garden Grove, CA