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

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VIENNA TO LOS ANGELES: 2 JOURNEYS

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.”

Richard Neutra (1892-1970) was an Austrian-American architect whose building career in Southern California established him as one of the preeminent Modern Architects of the 20th century.

Neutra studied under Adolf Loos at the Vienna University of Technology (1910–1918) where he was a student of Max Fabiani and Karl Mayreder. In 1912 he undertook a study trip to Italy and Balkans with Ernst Ludwig Freud (son of Sigmund Freud). In June 1914, Neutra's studies were interrupted when he was ordered to Trebinje; he served as a lieutenant in the artillery in the Balkans until the end of the war. He took a leave in 1917 to return to the Technische Hochschule to take his final examinations.

After World War I Neutra went to Switzerland where he worked with the landscape architect Gustav Ammann. In 1921 he served briefly as city architect in the German town of Luckenwalde, and later in the same year he joined the office of Erich Mendelsohn in Berlin. Neutra contributed to the firm's competition entry for a new commercial centre for Haifa, Palestine (1922), and to the Zehlendorf housing project in Berlin (1923). He married Dione Niedermann, the daughter of an architect, in 1922. They had three sons, Frank L (1924–2008), Dion (1926–) an architect and his father's partner and Raymond Richard (1939–) a physician and environmental epidemiologist.

Neutra moved to the United States by 1923 and became a naturalized citizen in 1929. Neutra worked briefly for Frank Lloyd Wright before accepting an invitation from his close friend and university companion Rudolf Schindler to work and live communally in Schindler's Kings Road House in Los Angeles. Neutra’s first work in California was in landscape architecture, where he provided the design for the garden of Schindler’s beach house (1922–5), designed for Philip Lovell, Newport Beach, and for a pergola and wading pool for Wright and Schindler’s complex for Aline Barnsdall on Olive Hill (1925), Hollywood. Schindler and Neutra collaborated on an entry for the League of Nations Competition of 1926–7; in the same year they formed a firm with the planner Carol Aronovici (1881–1957) called the Architectural Group for Industry and Commerce (AGIC). He subsequently developed his own practice and went on to design numerous buildings embodying the International Style, twelve of which are designated as Historic Cultural Monuments (HCM), including the Lovell Health House (HCM #123; 1929) and the Richard and Dion Neutra VDL Research House (HCM #640; 1966). In California, he became celebrated for rigorously geometric but airy structures that symbolized a West Coast variation on the mid-century modern residence. Clients included Edgar J. Kaufmann, Galka Scheyer, and Walter Conrad Arensberg. In the early 1930s, Neutra's Los Angeles practice trained several young architects who went on to independent success, including Gregory Ain, Harwell Hamilton Harris, and Raphael Soriano. In 1932, he tried to move to the Soviet Union, to help design workers' housing that could be easily constructed, as a means of helping with the housing shortage.

In 1932, Neutra was included in the seminal MoMA exhibition on modern architecture, curated by Philip Johnson and Henry-Russell Hitchcock. In 1949 Neutra formed a partnership with Robert E. Alexander that lasted until 1958, which finally gave him the opportunity to design larger commercial and institutional buildings. In 1955, the United States Department of State commissioned Neutra to design a new embassy in Karachi. Neutra's appointment was part of an ambitious program of architectural commissions to renowned architects, which included embassies by Walter Gropius in Athens, Edward Durrell Stone in New Delhi, Marcel Breuer in The Hague, Josep Lluis Sert in Baghdad, and Eero Saarinen in London. In 1965 Neutra formed a partnership with his son Dion Neutra. Between 1960 and 1970, Neutra created eight villas in Europe, four in Switzerland, three in Germany, and one in France. Prominent clients in this period included Gerd Bucerius, publisher of Die Zeit, as well as figures from commerce and science.

He was famous for the attention he gave to defining the real needs of his clients, regardless of the size of the project, in contrast to other architects eager to impose their artistic vision on a client. Neutra sometimes used detailed questionnaires to discover his client's needs, much to their surprise. His domestic architecture was a blend of art, landscape, and practical comfort.

In a 1947 article for the Los Angeles Times, "The Changing House," Neutra emphasizes the "ready-for-anything" plan – stressing an open, multifunctional plan for living spaces that are flexible, adaptable and easily modified for any type of life or event. In 1977, he was posthumously awarded the AIA Gold Medal, and in 2015 he was honored with a Golden Palm Star on the Walk of Stars in Palm Springs, California. [neutransp]

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.

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