Monday, July 14, 2014

The Richard Neutra House Part 2

What makes this 64 year old house so special?

"Let me count the ways!"

1.  The Architect!
Richard Neutra was renowned world wide; an award winning, cutting-edge modernist architect.
He was one of the most influential architects of the 20th century.
 He was given the 1977 AIA Gold Medal posthumously.  This is the highest award the American Institute of Architecture can bestow.

2.  The Location!
  The house at 4740 Richmond is located in the quiet South Highlands Historic Neighborhood of Shreveport.

It sits high, nested in the natural surroundings of the wooded area that was originally five lots. This spacious location provides complete privacy.

This home is within walking distance of Southfield School one of the finest Private, Independent and Coeducational Day Schools in the area, serving Preschool-2 through Grade 8.  It is the only School in the Region to receive the ISAS and NAEYC Accreditations.

3.  The History
 One of a Kind!
In the late 1940's, Mr and Mrs J. C. O'Brien were ready to simplify their lives and wanted to do it in the beautiful woody natural surroundings of north Louisiana.  Having heard about the streamlined designs of Frank Lloyd Wright, Mr. O'Brien traveled to California to meet with him.  Their son, Jim vividly recalls this visit.
"I well remember my dad, who was always considered a quiet, very conservative gent, coming home after his interview with Frank Lloyd Wright regarding the designing of a new new family home for us.  Pop just did NOT mesh with him."
 But, the architect did recommend another young architect who had worked with him previously and was making quite a name for himself. A few weeks later, Mr. Richard Neutra arrived in Shreveport in order to visit and interview the family as a group and individually.

Jim also remembers that the modern design of the house was quite a culture shock to the neighbors who were not very happy about it at all.

The house was completed in 1950 and Mr. O'Brien died a year later.

In 1952 The O'Brien House received the following outstanding award.
Neutra's International Style was seen as a revolt against the very ornate eclectic style of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  Even today, there are people who strongly dislike this stark style, but at the time, it was an honest expression of how many perceptive people were thinking and feeling.

Someone described this design style like this:
“It was a propagandistic movement,”
"It was about moving people toward better, cleaner living in the machine age.”

So, the O'Briens followed exactly every piece of advice Neutra gave them.  They sold every piece of traditional furniture and oriental rug from their large white columned traditional home and replaced them with modern pieces.

An interesting thing about this Neutra House was 90% of the furniture was "built in" with wood that matched the chosen redwood theme of the house.

 4.  The Design
Floor Plan of the main level

The design of the house is quite simplistic; at the center of the house is the living room and the dining room that is the heart of the house and the family activity.   The rest of the house branches out in east and west directions. From the center of the house each wing that branches out has its own specific function.

The entry of the house faces north which is perpendicular to its nearest neighbors. A stone pathway leads from the driveway into and through the house to an open screened porch off the living room.
It is the consistent use of wood, steel and stone that characterizes the Neutra House and creates continuity throughout.
The spacious entry introduces the marriage of stone and glass with the beautiful redwood that is seen throughout the house.
When one enters the Living Room, the eye continues to the expanse of scenery beyond the large sliding glass wall which opens onto a large screened in porch.

The way in which Neutra designed the O'Brien House was such that when the sliding glass doors were opened the differentiation of interior and exterior was blurred as if it was a continuous space.
The Dining Room
 From the foyer, a "Gallery" connects the east and west wings.
The east wing is the most privatized aspect of the house as it is the master suite.  It contains a very small bedroom that would be a perfect nursery or private sitting room.
This room adjoins the master bath.
Notice the "Neutra" style stepping stool to facilitate using the large tub.
One cannot help noticing the way Neutra used windows and mirrors to blend the outside gardens with the interior even in these private areas.
The master bedroom is a perfect example of the Neutra "built-in" furniture.
 One of the amazing things about this house is the storage.  In this room there is a built-in safe as well as chests, cabinets, and a whole gallery wall of closets.
 The west wing of the house is the service wing, which is fairly secluded from the rest of the open plan design.  It contains an original office which could also double as a bedroom if necessary.
 There is also a guest room and bath in this wing.
An interesting detail is that all the light switches and wall plugs are positioned low on the wall for easy access.  Notice this guest room switch is right where it needs to be to turn off the overhead light sconces.
Also on the west wing is the large kitchen and eating area.
Dining room is to the left.
 This area was the original utility room and reason for the long folding counter top to the right.  This counter would also be a great place to add bar stools or use as an organizational center.
Where Diann is standing was originally the back of the house and to her left is a staircase that went down to the garage and maid's quarters.
Link to  Part 1 HERE!
Link to Part 3

 Next Monday I will show you how Steve and Diann London have taken this beautiful, one-of-a-kind, award winning home and made it their own without compromising the distinct Neutra style.

Again this week I am joining
Amaze Me Monday
Please visit here to see other dwellings of the heart.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting to say the least but definitely not my style. :o))

    Have a great week!

    ReplyDelete

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