Richard Neutra was one of the most important modernist architects of the 20th century. Growing up in Austria and influenced by the aesthetic of the Bauhaus School of Design in Germany, Neutra began to develop his own architectural style. Once in California, he became inspired by the sweeping, open landscapes and moderate climate. He had a keen appreciation for the relationship between people and nature. You can see it in his simple post and beam construction, as well as in his trademark plate glass walls and ceilings that turn into deep overhangs, creating that vital connection between the indoors and outdoors. “I try to make the house like a flower pot, in which you can root something and out of which family life can bloom,” he once said. His residences — which found their roots throughout Southern California from Palm Springs to Los Angeles — were known for blending art, landscape and practical comforts.
In honor of the famed modernist’s birthday today (he would have been 124), we decided to take a look at one Southern California residence that pays homage to his mid-century design. Overlooking Butterfly Beach on California’s most desirable coastline in Montecito, this three-bedroom, two-bath residence was built in 1962 and designed by architect Gary Hahn, an apprentice of Neutra.
Hahn’s clients were Mr. and Mrs. Kerry, who had purchased the .81-acre parcel in 1960 to build their dream home. Hahn prepared a number of renderings, two of which currently hang in the hall corridor leading to the master bedroom to this day.
A final design was approved in 1961, as a result of a collaboration between Hahn, the Kerrys and their interior designer and close friend Margo Graham. Sadly, Hahn passed away unexpectedly in 1961 shortly after construction began.
Evidence of Neutra’s influence can be seen throughout the residence. Dramatic walls of glass and overhangs provide seamless integration with the stunning ocean views and prime beachfront Four Seasons Biltmore Hotel, Coral Casino Beach Club and the Music Academy.
The open floorplan also allows for casual family living, just like Neutra once envisioned. It’s a place where art, natural beauty and comfort can truly reside in one of California’s inspiring locations. And all it needs is one visionary homebuyer who appreciates the California mid-century modern architectural tradition to bring it new life.
Happy birthday to Richard Neutra.