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

Celebrating and fostering well-researched responsible design
Preserving the legacy of Richard, Dion and Dione Neutra to inspire new solutions in a changing world

We Value

  • Designed settings and things that serve humanity and the planet
  • New technology and inclusive design procedures
  • Well-researched solutions for anticipating and verifying consequences and learning from successes and failures
  • Elements of that natural world in which humans evolved and flourished
  • Design for affordability, social justice and special individual needs
  • Designed delight
  • Preserving and learning from designs of the past that promote these values.

Five Year Goals

Establish and explain the Institute’s governance and also the administrative structure to deliver our programmatic offerings.

By 2025 start to partner with 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 three apartment structures: Neutra-designed Reunion House/Apartment ,Treetops and Museum/Apartment (see photographs here). Program them to host innovators and to highlight enduring human needs that require new solutions in a world challenged by climatic and social change.

Develop strategies for beneficial use of the Museum space and Reunion House/Apartments by others.

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

Complete on-line catalogs for the Neutra Archives at UCLA , CalPoly Pomona and elsewhere and formulate policies that facilitate low cost scholarly research and appropriate commercial use compatible with intellectual property rights.

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.

The Neutra Legacy

There is a tangible and intangible Neutra legacy.

The intangible legacy derives from the determination of these three very different people to exploit their signal strengths for the common good and the values (mentioned above) which for them defined the common good.

The tangible legacy includes correspondence, manuscripts, personal and architectural photographs, travel sketches and architectural drawings and specifications, movies, recorded lectures, discussions and musical performances, and finally, Neutra designed buildings. These are relevant not only to the scholarly study of the three people who left them behind: Richard, Dione and Dion Neutra, and their wide network of distinguished friends. They also have value for studying the intellectual history of the Post WWI and WWII era, the lives of creative women like Dione Neutra and other women in this friendly worldwide network. The materials are also relevant to the study of the challenges posed by succeeding a famous father.

Preserving Legacy to Illustrate Enduring Needs and Stimulate New Solutions

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 requiring that required accommodation by the built environment. These writings supplemented his enthusiasm for eliciting and accommodating such client needs in his completed projects.

His, and his son’s, built work aimed at using nature and available technology to satisfy those needs. While these solutions were coherent and elegant for their time, they will not be the solutions required 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 an enduring reminder of the need for socially and ecologically responsible design inspired by evidence about what works and why.

When the Neutra Institute for Survival Through Design was established in the early 1960s, Richard Neutra thought that his reputation for responsible design would attract funds to foster more responsible design and research into the perennial human needs demanding accommodation. The Institute now has modest resources to deploy the preserved Neutra legacy and financial aid to help foster and celebrate 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 of practitioners in the wider design field, including those who influence what is designed and implemented in the real world.