ARH 7401: Constructing Privacy: Richard Neutra's Westwood Apartments
12 week project.
In the span of just over a decade the renowned architect Richard Neutra constructed four apartment buildings in the Westwood area of Los Angeles next to UCLA. The Landfair and Strathmore apartments were completed in 1937, The Kelton apartments in 1942, and just a few years later, in 1948, the Kievman apartments appeared on the market. Though all four projects have been commonly referred to as “apartments” they nonetheless exhibit a built form drastically different from Neutra’s earlier Jardinette apartments in Hollywood, as well as his much later Poster apartments in East Los Angeles. The four Westwood apartments are clearly not houses as they all incorporate multiple distinct living units on each lot, however they also do not conform to a typical stacked apartment type, with multiple units aligned in a uniform configuration. Authors have attempted to reconcile this hybrid apartment form by associating it with other more familiar building types, referring to the Landfair apartments as a modern adaptation of the row house and Strathmore apartments as being Neutra’s update of the bungalow court. However these translations of more traditional housing typologies are ill fitting and do not reflect Neutra’s incorporation of garages or his adjustment for the relatively small lot size on which these buildings sit. In this paper I argue the apartments by Neutra in Westwood point to a unique transformation as he translated his approach to the single family house into the multiple-unit apartment. A formal analysis of the apartments, combined with their reception at the time and in the years to come, reveal how Neutra transformed the relationship between public and private space in buildings that sit somewhere on the spectrum between house and apartment.