Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Lovell House


The Lovell House or Lovell Health House is a modern residence designed and built by Richard Neutra between 1927-29. The home, located at 4616 Dundee Drive in Los Angeles, California, was built for the physician and naturopath Philip Lovell. It is considered a major monument in architectural history, and was a turning point in Neutra's career.

It is often described as the first steel frame house in the United States, and also an early example of the use of gunite (sprayed-on concrete). Neutra was familiar with steel construction due to his earlier work with the Chicago firm Holabird & Roche. Neutra served as the contractor for the project in order to manage the cost and quality.

Aesthetically, the house follows many of the principles of the International Style, and was in fact included in the 1932 Museum of Modern Art exhibit that retrospectively defined that style. In essence the house reflects Neutra's interest in industrial production, and this is most evident in the repetitive use of factory-made window assemblies. In fact, Neutra's apprentice Harwell Hamilton Harris suggested that Neutra was drawn to America because of Henry Ford.
The interior reflects Neutra's interest in Cubism, transparency, and hygiene. The 'minimal' detailing shows the influence of Irving Gill. In another nod to industrial production, Neutra installed two Ford Model-A headlights in the main stairwell. (The headlights were provided by Neutra apprentice Gregory Ain.) The Historic American Buildings Survey described the Lovell House as "a prime example of residential architecture where technology creates the environment."

Philip Lovell was enchanted with the house and praised his architect publicly. Lovell had previously commissioned architect Rudolf Schindler to build the landmark Lovell Beach House in 1926.

The Lovell House was added to the list of Registered Historic Places in Los Angeles in 1971.

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