LOS ANGELES.-In fall 2007, Cal Poly Pomona College of Environmental Design, The VDL Advisory Board and Dr. Raymond Neutra launched two fund raising campaigns.
The first is a campaign to raise $30,000 by October 1, 2008 to cover urgently needed day-to-day operating and repair costs.
The second is for a $2 million endowment to cover future operating expenses including long deferred maintenance.
At a later phase, it will take an endowment to support staff and make the facility more available to the community through tours, social gatherings and educational programs.
The $100,000 dollar endowment provided by Richard Neutra's collaborator and wife when it was gifted to Cal Poly Pomona, has been insufficient to maintain this complex structure.
The Immediate Crisis
If the College is unable to raise the $30,000 needed to pay insurance, utilities and upkeep of the Neutra VDL Research Site by October 1, 2008, the building complex may be threatened with closure, possible sale to a private party, and quite possibly permanent loss of public and educational access.
This funding will also be used to secure roofs to prevent further water damage.
Restoring and Maintaining the Buildings
There is work to be done on all three waves of construction. These include the basement of the 1932 original structure, the innovative indoor/outdoor 1940 garden house and the 1966 Richard and Dion Neutra VDL II wing.
Among the most pressing needs are repair of the uneven settlement of the foundation and the roof leakage. There are also jammed sliding glass doors; water damaged ceilings, walls and floors; deteriorated roof top and pocket gardens; cracked windows; non-rotating sun louvers; and malfunctioning electrical and lighting systems. A recent Getty grant has allowed us to accurately determine the cost of these repairs and renovations.
Developing Programs to Inspire, Inform and Serve
Help Cal Poly Pomona find an institutional Co-Steward who will commit development and curatorial staff to endown and run the site as a house museum and community resource.
If you are interested in helping in any way, please contact Dr. Raymond Richard Neutra and become a Friend of the Neutra VDL Research Site.
Seventy-five years ago, in Los Angeles, with a no-interest loan from Dutch philanthropist Dr CH Van Der Leeuw, Viennese-American architect Richard Neutra built a radical "glass house" with rooftop and balcony gardens on Silverlake Boulevard. He called it the VDL Research house, after his benefactor. It was designed to accommodate his office and two families on a small 60 x 70 foot lot.
Seven years later, as his family expanded, he built a garden house on the back of the lot. This compact wing had walls that slid open onto a pocket garden to be shared by the addition and main house. In 1963 after a disastrous fire, that left unscathed only the 1940 Garden house and basement of the original wing, Richard and his son and partner Dion Neutra had a chance to redesign the main house. Two floors and a penthouse solarium were built on the original prefabricated basement structure. They applied what the practice had learned in the interim about sun louvers, water roofs, "nature-near", and physiologically motivated design.
It is a place, which could tell many stories. Over a thirty-year period hundreds of projects on four continents were designed there. These included the country's first modern school, many distinguished residences, and important public buildings. At mid century Neutra's influence was pervasive. In 1949 a Time Magazine cover story characterized him as "second only to lordly Frank Lloyd Wright". VDL saw the beginning of the careers of architects who came as apprentices to work there from all over the world including, among others Gregory Ain, Raphael Soriano and Donald Wexler. Photographer Julius Schulman's career started with this office. VDL played host to cultural figures like Frank Lloyd Wright, Lazlo Moholy Nagy, Jorn Utson, Charles and Ray Eames; religious figures like Robert Schuler and J Krishnamurti; scientists like Rene Dubos and Linus Pauling; and to political figures and activists like John Anson Ford, Frank Wilkinson and Vice President Hubert Humphrey.
In 1990 Richard Neutra's wife Dione, left the VDL Research Compound to the Cal Poly Pomona College of Environmental Design