Book Corner #10 : 'Richard Neutra's Miller House' by Stephen Leet

The book corner section highlights the most original aspects of Californian culture all summer long, through works selected and reviewed by Angelo Cirimele. His pick this week is 'Richard Neutra's Miller House' by Stephen Leet. Between 1927 and 1969, the Austrian-American architect designed more than 300 modernist buildings in California. In 1936, socialite Grace Lewis Miller approached Neutra to design a small winter holiday home in Palm Springs, that could double as a studio for her avant-garde exercise course, "The Mensendieck System of functional movements".

 

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Richard Neutra’s Miller House


"Whenever I visit a building with truly remarkable architecture, let’s say one designed by Le Corbusier or Mallet-Stevens, I always wonder why we can’t manage to do anything like it today; in terms of light, volume, view… well in terms of everything, actually. Material considerations aside – including space, location, budget or time – the answer is probably a psychological one. What do we expect from a house? What do we want to do in it? That is why this book focusing on Richard Neutra’s Miller House is so captivating, as it examines the dialogue between the architect and client, the socialite Grace Lewis Miller. Containing original letters, sketches and drawings, it admittedly gets quite technical at times, but it tells the story of the whole project; the utopian ideals it stood for at the time, and  how meaning can emerge through arranging stones and nature. Through the letters and comments of Richard Neutra, who is also well-known for his Case Study Houses, the reader will also discover more about a certain American style of life in the 1930s." 

Richard Neutra’s Miller House, Stephen Leet, 2004, 144 p. Ed. Princeton Architectural Press.
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