Structure Type: built works - dwellings - houses

Designers: Neutra, Richard J., Architect (firm); Richard Josef Neutra (architect)

Dates: constructed 1936-1937

2 stories

234 South Hilgard Avenue
Westwood, Los Angeles, CA 90024-2518

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The Los Angeles architect Richard Neutra (1892-1970) worked with his frequent collaborator, the Swiss-born architect Peter Pfisterer (b. 1907 in Basel, Switzerland), on this residence for Edward A. Kaufman (1893–1955), then a writer/producer at the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) film studio. Kaufman wrote 15 movie scripts between 1915-1941 and produced 14 films between 1935-1947. Probably his best known work was a co-writing credit he received for the Warner Brothers' movie, "The Gay Divorcee," (1934) starring Ginger Rogers (1911–1995) and Fred Astaire (1899–1987). House Beautiful magazine awarded Neutra a prize of $500 in the "7-10 Room Category" of its 1938 Small House Competition. Judges for the event were: Frederick L. Ackerman, Charles T. Ingham, Edmund B. Gilchrist, Kenneth K. Stowell (Editor of House Beautiful) and Ralph Bailey (Associate Editor of House Beautiful).

The Kaufman House had a two-floor plan, three bedrooms, two baths and a huge deck on the second floor, and the living-dining room, den, and kitchen-utility room plus maid's quarters, on the first. The master suite was notably large, with a dressing room used as a corridor to reach an extensive master bathroom. A large terrace extended the living-dining room outside. Interior walls were sheetrocked on which gypsum plaster was applied. Philippine mahogany paneling was used throughout the house, including facing numerous built-in cabinets and book-shelves. Neutra, like Arts and Crafts era architects before him, stressed how built-in storage could provide necessary space for modern gadgets and mass-produced possessions and reduce household clutter. The Architectural Forum lauded Neutra for his ability to include "...thoughtfully designed features for comfortable living within an almost standardized structural shell." It also cited his modern use of long bands of glass: "As always in Mr. Neutra's work, the window area is tremendous, and in this instance is made to seem still greater by the use of a large mirror on the solid end-wall of the living room." (See "House in Los Angeles, Calif.," Architectural Forum, vol. 74, no. 2, 02/1941, p. 110-112.) Neutra throughout his career had been influenced by the contemporary helio-therapy movement, and he underscored the importance of daily access to sunshine and fresh air. The residence had a timber frame (what Neutra called a "unit-type timber chassis,") constructed of kiln-dried Douglas fir, into which Truscon steel windows were placed. As was typical of his work, window trim was picked out in metallic aluminum paint produced by ALCOA.

PCAD id: 1487