The Institute

Neutra Institute for Survival Through Design logo

“SURVIVAL THROUGH DESIGN, to ameliorate by the fast-advancing insights of all sciences, the human setting in which to live, to work, to rest” — Richard J. Neutra (1892-1970)

Our Vision

Surviving in the climate crisis through well-researched designs that serve humanity and the planet.

Our Mission

Assisting those who research the effects of design and those who practice and celebrate responsible design.
Preserving the Neutra legacy to highlight enduring human needs that demand new solutions in a changing world.

We Value

  • Designed things and settings that serve humanity and the planet
  • New technology and inclusive design procedures to serve humanity and the planet
  • Anticipating and verifying consequences and learning from successes and failures
  • Elements of that natural world in which humans evolved and flourished
  • Preserving and learning from designs of the past that promoted these values.

Five Year Goals

By 2025 start to partner and support projects and young and old innovators to foster well-researched responsible design for a world challenged by climate change

Restore the Institute’s Neutra-designed Reunion House, Treetops and Museum/Office and program them to host innovators and to highlight enduring human needs that require new solutions in a world challenged by climatic and social change.

Designate the Neutra Colony, our three buildings and the nearby Neutra VDL Studio and Residences as an historic district.

Complete catalogs and finding aids for the Neutra Archives at UCLA , CalPoly Pomona and elsewhere and formulate policies that facilitate low cost scholarly research and appropriate commercial use.

Create and maintain an accessible and informative website linked to Neutra information around the world.

Begin republishing Neutra writings relevant to our times.

Develop a succession plan: a range of options for housing the assets and pursuing activities currently the institute’s responsibility.

Preservation to Illustrate Values and Future Challenges

To an unusual degree for its time, Neutra’s 1953 book Survival Through Design focused on identifying and researching perennial functional and esthetic human needs that required accommodation by the built environment. These writings supplemented his enthusiasm for eliciting and accommodating his clients more obvious needs in his completed projects.

His built work aimed at using nature and available technology to satisfy those needs. While the solutions were coherent and elegant for their time, they will not be the solutions in a climatically hostile environment. However, perennial human needs will still demand accommodation, albeit with new solutions. Beyond a mere celebration of historic achievements, we propose to preserve the Neutras’ writings and designs as a continuing reminder of the need for socially and ecologically responsible design inspired by evidence.

When the Neutra Institute for Survival Through Design was established in the early 1960’s, Richard Neutra thought that his reputation for responsible design would attract funds to foster more responsible design and research into the perennial human needs that demanded accommodation. The Institute now has modest resources to deploy the preserved Neutra legacy and financial aid to help foster innovative socially and ecologically responsible design inspired by evidence. We propose to do this in partnership with the research community and by fostering and celebrating best practices in the wider design field to practitioners and to those who influence what is designed and implemented in the real world.