Los Angeles owes much to European émigrés – and particularly to those in the arts. Rudolph Schindler arrived in the States in 1914 with a fervent desire to meet and work with Frank Lloyd Wright. The young architect settled first in Chicago, overseeing Wright’s office while Wright completed work on Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel.
Located on Kings Road in West Hollywood, Schindler House was built in 1922 and, for years, served as a salon and sanctuary for numerous artists and architects, including Wright, John Cage, and Edward Weston.
Schindler was friends with Richard Neutra, who was still living in Vienna and to whom Schindler wrote often about the house’s construction. Conceived as an experiment in communal living for two couples, the house was designed with a shared kitchen and garden patios, as well as outdoor sleeping porches. Four interior rooms enabled each person to “express his or her individuality.”
Even to the untrained eye, it’s easy to see the influence of Schindler House on Neutra’s work throughout California. Originally built from poured concrete, wood, and canvas, the house maintains an almost imperceptible line between indoor and outdoor spaces, in keeping with both Wright’s and Schindler’s belief in the complementary relationship between a structure and its environment.
Since 1994, Schindler House has been managed by MAK Center, one of Austria’s foremost preservationist organizations. Only a small bronze plaque at the food of a stand of bamboo marks Schindler House apart from other addresses in the bucolic residential West Hollywood neighborhood. But to walk down the drive and through the wooden door is to slip back into a time when southern California was the land of dreams for so many people in the arts.
A veritable sanctum sanctorum, Schindler House is a reminder of California’s promise.