Richard Neutra, like RM Schindler, was born and architecturally trained in Vienna, Austria, and arrived in Los Angeles after spending time in Chicago and working for Frank Lloyd Wright. While Schindler arrived in America in early 1914, the outbreak of World War I prevented Neutra from doing the same, and he does not arrive in the states until 1923. Neutra moved to Chicago in 1924, briefly taking residence at Jane Addam's Hull House and working for the esteemed architectural firm of Holabird & Roche. Neutra did not meet Frank Lloyd Wright until 1924 at Louis Sullivan's funeral in Chicago, but he was already quite familiar and impressed with Wright's work (Neutra named his first child Frank for FLW in 1924, before even knowing the architect personally). Wright invited Neutra and his wife Dionne to visit Taliesin, and then offered him a job. Neutra resigned from Holabird & Roche, and took residence at Taliesin where he assisted Wright with, among other projects, the unbuilt Gordon Strong Automobile Objective -which later inspired the design of Wright's Guggenheim Museum in New York City.
Neutra arrived in Los Angeles in 1925 and lived with his old friend RM Schindler in his Kings Road House. Although they lived in the same space, Neutra and Schindler did not professionally work together, and the two architects had a falling out when Neutra designed the Lovell Health House (1927-1929) for Schindler's former client Phillip Lovell (Lovell Beach House, 1922-1926).
Neutra and his wife went on a tour of Asia and Europe in 1930, and upon their return to Los Angeles in 1931, did not resume living in the Kings Road House with Schindler. Tension between the two architects was further exacerbated when, in 1932, Neutra's work was showcased at the New York Museum of Modern Art's Modern Architecture: International Exhibition, and Schindler was all but ignored.
In that same year, Richard Neutra built his own home and studio, the VDL Research House in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, facing the Silver Lake Reservoir. The house was funded by architectural philanthropist C. H. Van der Leeuw, and subsequently named for him -VDL is an abbreviation for Van der Leeuw. The two-story glass house was complemented by a one-story garden house built in 1939, and separated by a courtyard.
The first rendition of the VDL Research House is now referred to VDL I as it was destroyed by fire in 1963. VDL II was built on the same footprint in 1966 and was a collaborative effort between Neutra and his son Dion. The garden house survived the fire and is still intact today. Interesting components of the VDL Research House include a number of built-in appliances and fixtures and a sound system for communicating throughout the house. The bedrooms are small and reminiscent of ship cabins.
Though not to the extreme of Schindler's Kings Road House, the VDL Research House has a number of exterior spaces, but more so connects to nature with its expansive walls of glass and clerestory windows. Massive, adjustable louvres allow inhabitants to control the amount of light let into the house. Built-in pools and fountains bring a water element to the property, a characteristic now common to California vernacular architecture.
Dionne Neutra donated the VDL Research House to Cal Poly Pomona in 1990.
Pudleaux Tourism offers a variety of architectural and sightseeing tours of Los Angeles. Each LA tour offers a unique way to experience this vast metropolis and learn about Los Angeles' fascinating architectural history. These guided tours visit a medley of areas in and around Los Angeles, including: Downtown LA, Silver Lake, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Westwood, Santa Monica, and Venice, to see and discuss the work of architects Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra, R.M. Schindler, John Lautner, Charles Eames, and Frank Gehry among others.