A Rare Richard Neutra Home Is Listed For $2.2M in San Francisco

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By Sarah Akkoush
Neutra’s 1937 wood-sheathed home formally known as Darling House hits the market for the first time in San Francisco.

There is no doubt that iconic architect Richard Neutra, who immigrated to the United States from Austria and worked alongside Frank Lloyd Wright in his early career, is widely celebrated for his contributions to the Modern Movement in the United States. 

While he is best known for his prolific body of work in Southern California, there are still four surviving Neutra–designed projects in the Bay Area. His acclaimed 1937 Darling House is one of them, and it has recently become available for the first time on the open market for $2,200,000

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A departure from the concrete, stucco, and steel compositions he was partial to at the time, Neutra’s redwood-clad design represents clear sensitivity to the site and surroundings.

A departure from the concrete, stucco, and steel compositions he was partial to at the time, Neutra’s redwood-clad design represents clear sensitivity to the site and surroundings.

Sited on a steep slope in San Francisco’s Parnassus Heights, the home Neutra designed for Dr. Darling and his family is a historically poignant example of both International Style and Second Bay Tradition influences. 

Modernists of the Second Bay Tradition "incorporated the regional vernacular of redwood, shingles, and elements of Arts and Crafts with the European Modernism that was popularized by the Bauhaus and the International Style," states the San Francisco Planning Department.

Modernists of the Second Bay Tradition "incorporated the regional vernacular of redwood, shingles, and elements of Arts and Crafts with the European Modernism that was popularized by the Bauhaus and the International Style," states the San Francisco Planning Department.

Located on Woodland Avenue bordering the densely wooded Sutro Forest, the dwelling features three bedrooms and one-and-a-half baths spread over two finished living levels. Other than a garage that was converted to a secondary living room in the 1970s, the home largely remains in original, unaltered condition. 

Modest in size, the home relies on an open floor plan and expansive steel-sash ribbon windows to intimately connect the interior with the outdoors.

Modest in size, the home relies on an open floor plan and expansive steel-sash ribbon windows to intimately connect the interior with the outdoors.

The living room conversion was done by local artist Peter Tangen, who is best known for designing the main doors to North Beach’s landmark Old Spaghetti Factory. "Despite being at almost the geographical center of the city and having two walls of windows, when you are in the home, you have views of greenery and distant views of downtown and other homes," says Peter Pelavin, who grew up in the property after his parents purchased it in the 1950s.

Neutra’s original sketch depicts the home’s living room.

Neutra’s original sketch depicts the home’s living room.

Richard Neutra’s work and legacy has been carried on by his son, Dion Neutra, architect and principal of Dion Neutra Inc. The firm is the successor to Richard and Dion Neutra and Associates, which executed the Neutra vision for decades. Dion Neutra has expressed interest in working with the buyers of the Darling House to help responsibly restore this architectural icon so that it may be celebrated and preserved for generations to come. 

The sleek lines, corner window, and prioritization of volume over ornamentation are expressions of International Style, which have been integrated into the home.

The sleek lines, corner window, and prioritization of volume over ornamentation are expressions of International Style, which have been integrated into the home.

Cozy and charming, the house's original kitchen remains intact.

Cozy and charming, the house's original kitchen remains intact.

The master bedroom is connected to the home’s largest outdoor terrace, substantially increasing usable living space.

The master bedroom is connected to the home’s largest outdoor terrace, substantially increasing usable living space.

Prominently seen from the side elevation, the regional vernacular of the Second Bay Tradition is characterized by "wood cladding, large expanses of glass, overhanging eaves, and flat or low-pitched roof forms," notes the San Francisco Planning Department. Both simple and dramatic, the corner window seamlessly marries built and natural environments.

Prominently seen from the side elevation, the regional vernacular of the Second Bay Tradition is characterized by "wood cladding, large expanses of glass, overhanging eaves, and flat or low-pitched roof forms," notes the San Francisco Planning Department. Both simple and dramatic, the corner window seamlessly marries built and natural environments.

An unobstructed view of the San Francisco skyline can be seen in the background.

An unobstructed view of the San Francisco skyline can be seen in the background.

The large upper-level terrace represents a growing interest in the indoor-outdoor lifestyle. With the liberal use of glass and expansive wraparound terrace, the home is designed to take advantage of the mild Bay Area climate, while eliciting the feeling of living privately in nature.

The large upper-level terrace represents a growing interest in the indoor-outdoor lifestyle. With the liberal use of glass and expansive wraparound terrace, the home is designed to take advantage of the mild Bay Area climate, while eliciting the feeling of living privately in nature.

A 1950s photograph shows the upper-level terrace, remarkably consistent with architectural elements seen today.

A 1950s photograph shows the upper-level terrace, remarkably consistent with architectural elements seen today.

90 Woodland Avenue has been listed for $2,200,000 by Mary Edwards and Linda Gridley of Coldwell Banker, and the full listing can be seen here. While the sale is currently pending, interested buyers are encouraged to keep an eye on the property in case there are opportunities for backup offers.

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