Article, History

Lovell Health House

Gimme Shelter: Modern Architecture Addresses Health and Quality of Life
Lovell Health House

As our nation and the world focuses on how best to manage during a pandemic, our institution is turning to a re-examination of the history of modern architecture and the way in which it was linked to the desire for a more healthful way of living.

An early example of this effort in the United States is an early work of Richard Neutra, the important modernist architect who had left Austria for the US in 1923. He had studied under the early Austrian modernist Adolf Loos and worked for the innovative German architect Erich Mendelsohn.

During 1927-29, Neutra constructed what became known as the Lovell Health House for the family of Philip Lovell in Los Angeles. The client was interested in the ability to integrate indoor and outdoor space within the confines of the home and embraced what we today think of as healthful California living. The home offers outdoor space for sunbathing and affords wide views from its perch in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles.

In the 1932 exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art that celebrated modern architecture, today widely referred to as the International Style show, co-curators Philip Johnson and Henry-Russell Hitchcock displayed this early work of Neutra, who would go on to be a defining figure of West Coast modernism. In 1946, it would be Neutra who would design one of the most important examples of modernism in America, the Kaufmann House in Palm Springs, California.

This sizable landmark home — almost 5,000 sq ft. — is considered to be one of the first examples of a steel frame home in the United States, which is a brilliant adaption of International Style principles applied to the California landscape. Today it is for sale by the current owners, who are hopeful that the property will be purchased by someone intent on its preservation.

Who wouldn’t want their own property filled with light, air and views of greenery at a time when so many of us are confined to home for such an extended period? A house that fosters good health is precisely what we all most need.

Hilary Lewis
Chief Curator & Creative Director
The Glass House
March 27, 2020

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