Events honoring architect Richard J. Neutra's 100th birthday are continuing at USC's Watt Hall with four remaining symposiums on Wednesday and Sept. 14, 21 and 28, held concurrently with the "Neutra Architecture--The View from the Inside," exhibit at the university's Helen Lindhurst galleries.
"The tribute to my father is an opportunity to examine bold building concepts that were beginning to change the face of Southern California architecture in the 1920s and 1930s and are still as fresh as when he developed them," said Dion Neutra, a partner in his father's architectural practice and continuing principal in the firm.
Neutra lives in Los Angeles' Silver Lake area, on a short street named Neutra Place where all the homes are Neutra-designed, each a modernist alternative to Los Angeles' traditional Spanish-style architecture.
Inspired by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra emigrated from Vienna to the United States in 1923 and later spent a period as an intern at Wright's headquarters at Taliesin, Wisc.
Dion Neutra's home, originally built as a developer's spec house, carries the strong Neutra signature. From street level it presents an unassuming facade, a flat roof, concrete and steel hidden behind lush vegetation and mature trees; the view from the inside of the house draws the mind's eye beyond its glass walls to include a large four-inch-deep reflection pool designed to mirror the dynamic changes of nature.
"Neutra architecture takes time to mature . . . like fine wine, and must be judged in the context of the forces that shape and surround it," said Dion Neutra. "It only works if man works better in it and because of it."
Most of the houses designed and built by the Neutra firm did not have monumental budgets, he noted. "They were average homes on small lots, so we found ourselves continually borrowing space.
"My father was fond of visual trickery to enlarge space, using mirrors to reflect the outdoors and natural textures and colors, ceilings of polished wood and indoor beams extending to the outside. Influenced by the concept of integration of the Bauhaus school, he also designed the furniture and accessories for his houses.
The following Neutra Centennial symposiums are co-sponsored by USC's School of Architecture and the Institute for Survival Through Design. All sessions will be held at 7 p.m. at USC's Watt Hall.
Wednesday: "The User Speaks, the Foundation of the Neutra Approach," a panel of "consumers" of the Neutra environment.
Sept. 14: "Survival Through Design Revisited I: Is Biorealism Alive and Well?" a panel moderated by Raymond Kappe, on the Neutra principles and their application.
Sept. 21: "Survival Through Design Revisited II: The Toxic Environment--What We Have Learned Since the '50s," a panel moderated by Marvin Malecha with participation of another Neutra son, Dr. Raymond Neutra.
Sept. 28: "Survival Through Design III: Designing the Built Environment Using Computer Stored Knowledge," a panel moderated by Dion Neutra.