Richard Neutra (1892-1970) was one of the giants of 20th-century architecture. His importance to the modernist movement as a whole as well as to the rise of modernism in California cannot be overstated. Neutra was born in Austria where he studied under Adolf Loos and worked with Erich Mendelsohn. He came to the US in 1923. He worked with Frank Lloyd Wright, then took up residence with his friend RM Schindler. They collaborated on several projects but eventually had a falling out over how to credit a certain work. Neutra was on the cover of Time Magazine in 1949--a rarity for an architect--and his most famous buildings include the Lovell House in Los Angeles, the VDL Residence where he and his family lived in the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles, the Kaufmann Desert House, Case Study Houses #6 and #13, the Gettysburg Cyclorama in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the Tremaine House in Montecito, California and others. In addition to training architects who would go on to prominence like Gregory Ain and Raphael Soriano, Neutra's work helped spur the rise of photographer Julius Shulman. Shulman photographed many Neutra projects, each reinforcing the other's reputation as the expert maker and chronicler of Californian modernism.
Raymond Richard Neutra is a physician epidemiologist who currently heads the division of the California Department of Public Health that investigates emerging environmental and occupational health threats. His 40-year career in public health was stimulated by the library and visitors of his architect father, Richard Neutra, who was interested in how the built environment affects the health and well-being of its inhabitants. Thus Richard’s library was full of books on physiology and biology and his contacts included people such as Hans Selye, the scientist who started stress research.
A few years ago, Raymond started writing snippets of memoir-essays about his adventures in public health and about his family. His piece for the July/August 2007 issue is a half-century-old psychological study on creative architects that was part rumination on his father and part speculation on how societal contexts let remarkable people discover and nurture their unique combination of skills.
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