McCoy, Esther: VIENNA TO LOS ANGELES: 2 JOURNEYS. Santa Monica: Arts & Architecture Press, 1979.

Prev Next

Loading Updating cart...


Letters Between R. M. Schindler and Richard Neutra;
Letters of Louis Sullivan to R. M. Schindler

Esther McCoy

Esther McCoy: VIENNA TO LOS ANGELES: 2 JOURNEYS [Letters Between R. M. Schindler and Richard Neutra; Letters of Louis Sullivan to R. M. Schindler]. Santa Monica: Arts & Architecture Press, 1979. First edition. Square quarto. Photo illustrated thick wrappers. 160 pp. Well illustrated in black and white. Architectural Historians’ bookplate inside front cover. Wrappers lightly worn and creased,  but a very good copy of an uncommon title.

9.25 x 9.25 softcover book with 160 pages and well illustrated in black and white. Foreword by Harwood Hamilton Harris. Designed by Joe Molloy. Author photo by Deborah Sussman. Published in 1978 by the then newly-revived Arts + Architecture Press, "Vienna to Los Angeles: Two Journeys" is noted late California architectural historian Esther McCoy's detailed study of the confluence between R.M Schindler and Richard Neutra. It explores the great modernist architects' Viennese roots, and publishes for the first time scores of photographs, drawings, and typographically transcribed correspondence between Schindler and Neutra, as well as Schindler and the renowned Louis Sullivan.

California Design is a marriage between Walden Pond and Douglas Aircraft. — Esther McCoy

As a contributing editor to Arts & Architecture magazine, Esther McCoy (1904 – 1989) was in a unique position to chronicle the brilliant trajectory of the modern movement in California, particularly the Case Study House program. Her insider status gave her unparalleled access to the key figures in the movement.

From the 1989 New York Times Obituary; “Esther McCoy, an architectural historian and critic . . . was a specialist in West Coast architecture and the author of many books and hundreds of articles in leading architectural publications.

“It was she, almost single-handedly, who awakened serious scholars to the extraordinary richness of California architecture,'' wrote Paul Goldberger, architecture critic for The New York Times, when a new edition of Ms. McCoy's 1960 work, ''Five California Architects,'' appeared in 1975. Her book, he added, was largely responsible for rescuing the five almost-forgotten architects - Bernard Maybeck, Irving Gill, R. M. Schindler and Charles and Henry Greene - from obscurity.

“Calling Ms. McCoy ''the pre-eminent writer of California architecture,'' Cesar Pelli, a former dean of the Yale School of Architecture, told The Times in an interview five years ago, ''Our knowledge of Southern California architecture has been primarily formed by her research, her first-hand knowledge and her writing, which is so precise and passionate.''

“She was born in Coffeyville, Kan., and was an undergraduate at the University of Michigan. She began her career in New York writing architecture reviews for a number of publishers.

“She worked as a draftsman in the Hollywood office of R. M. Schindler from 1944 to 1947 and began writing about the architects she had come to know. In 1985, she was given the American Institute of Architects' national honor award for excellence.”

Born and raised in Vienna, Richard Neutra (1872 – 1970) came to America early in his career, settling in California. His influence on post-war architecture is undisputed, the sunny climate and rich landscape being particularly suited to his cool, sleek modern style. Neutra had a keen appreciation for the relationship between people and nature; his trademark plate glass walls and ceilings which turn into deep overhangs have the effect of connecting the indoors with the outdoors. Neutra's ability to incorporate technology, aesthetics, science, and nature into his designs him recognition as one of Modernist architecture's greatest talents.

Hailing from Vienna, Rudolph Michael Schindler (1887 – 1953), like his colleague Richard Neutra, emigrated to the US and applied his International Style techniques to the movement that would come to be known as California Modernism. Influenced by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and taking cues from spatial notions found in cubism, he developed a singular style characterized by geometrical shapes, bold lines, and association of materials such as wood and concrete, as seen in his own Hollywood home (built in 1921-22) and the house he designed for P.M. Lovell in Newport Beach (1923-24).

Each room in the house represents a variation on the constructive architectural theme. This theme corresponds to the principle requirements for protecting a tent: a protected back, an open front, an open fireplace and a roof. Each room has a concrete wall at the rear and a large front opening onto the garden with sliding doors. The shape of the rooms and their relationship to the patios and various roof levels creates a totally new spatial concept between the interior and the garden. — R. M. Schindler

Today, Schindler is finally being regarded as an outstanding exponent of the Californian modernist style. His marginalized historical status traditionally has resulted from the architects' refusal to mimic the streamlined image of the popular modern architecture of the times. In 1932, when Philip Johnson and Henry-Russell Hitchcock organized the exhibition The International Style, they failed in invite Schindler. His prodigious output until his death  in 1953, helped him eventually escape the shadow of his compatriot Richard Neutra. Schindler designed over 500 buildings, more than 150 of which, mostly family residences, were actually built. His own residence in Kings Road, Hollywood (1922), and the beach house he designed for Philip Lovell (1926), has a lasting influence on the development of modern architecture in California.