Richard Joseph Neutra (1892-1970)

Famous modern and international style architect

Updated: November 08, 2012

The Kaufmann Desert House in Palm Springs, California. Designed by Neutra in 1946

Richard Neutra was a representative of modern and international style architecture in the United States. He was educated in Vienna and spent his early career in Berlin. He maintained his links to Europe throughout his career.

Richard Neutra was born into a wealthy Jewish family in Vienna in 1892. He studied architecture during the 1910s in Vienna and Zurich. His studies were disrupted by his service in the Austrian army during World War I. His professional career began in the early 1920s when he moved to Berlin. Having completed short term employment in several architectural offices, Neutra moved on to serve as a local administrator with the building authority of a small town south of Berlin. During his education and early professional career, Neutra was influenced among others by the Austrian city planner Otto Wagner and the German architect Erich Mendelsohn.

Neutra immigrated to the United States in 1923. He worked part time in New York and Chicago before he moved to Los Angeles in 1925. After a short period of cooperation with Rudolph Schindler, who had immigrated to the U.S. from Austria several years earlier, Neutra opened his own architectural office which became renowned for modern residential designs. Neutra placed high importance on the close relationship between his buildings, their inhabitants and the natural surroundings. This approach became manifest in some of his most prominent projects, like the Kaufman Desert House built in 1946.

Neutra remained connected to Europe throughout his career. During the interwar period, he published several texts in Germany about architectural developments in the United States, visited the CIAM meeting in 1930 and taught a class at the Bauhaus. After the Second World War, he frequently returned to Europe for lecture tours, research and business engagements. Neutra remained an active member of  CIAM and became president of the organization in 1944.

Richard Neutra returned to Vienna in 1966 and spent the late 1960s in Austria. After a brief return to Los Angeles, he died during a lecture tour in Germany in 1970.

Selected Publications

Neutra, Richard. Life and shape. New York: Appleton Century Crofts, 1962.

Neutra, Richard. Survival through design. New York: Oxford University Press, 1954.

Neutra, Richard. Wie baut Amerika?. Stuttgart: J. Hoffmann, 1927.

Selected Bibliography

Hines, Thomas. Richard Neutra and the search for modern architecture. A biography and history. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982.

Archival Collections

Richard Neutra Papers, Syracuse University Library, Syracuse, NY.

Richard Neutra Papers, Young Research Library, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA.

Cite this Entry

MLA Style

"Richard Joseph Neutra," Transatlantic Perspectives, 2017, Transatlantic Perspectives. 24 Sep 2017 <http://transatlanticperspectives.org/entry.php?rec=28>

APA Style

"Richard Joseph Neutra." (2017) In Transatlantic Perspectives, Retrieved September 24, 2017, from Transatlantic Perspectives: http://transatlanticperspectives.org/entry.php?rec=28