neutraVDL
About the Site:
VDL Garden House and Rooftop Solarium (1939-44)
In 1939 a major addition was built in the garden facing the rear street edge of the property. Labeling the space a “garage” with minimal set-back to pass plan check and to secure a building permit, it became “the Play Room” to accommodate the three active Neutra boys, Frank, Dion, and Raymond, keeping them apart from the serious architectural practice in the main house. The link from this new addition to the original house was at ground level and separated the garden into north and south patios. Neutra called it VDL-A, or the Garden House.

Another change came in 1944 when the open rooftop solarium was itself roofed over and partially enclosed, largely in glass to maintain the open view and provide wind shelter. Adjacent to this new penthouse a large portion of the roof was covered by an architectural trellis of beams and columns.

Remnants of VDL
The lowest level of the 1932 VDL I structure, shown as a garage on the building plans, actually contained a darkroom, a bedroom-study, and a place for storing architectural prints and negatives. Richard Neutra specially designed a garage door, to contain a window and a conventional door. On the many nice California days, the garage door could be left open to connect the interior space to an outdoor patio. A built-in bunk bed with a second panel was built for Richard Neutra's youngest son when he occupied the space in the 1940s. After this it served as a dwelling for student architects who worked in the upstairs office. Among these students was Bruce Schneider-Wessling, who later became a professor of architecture in Munich and a recipient of Cal Poly's Neutra Medal in 1985.

These "garage" areas and the prefabricated concrete rafters above them survived the 1963 fire. In 1966 the darkroom was converted into a demonstration facility for hydroponically grown plants, a technology of interest to Richard Neutra. The student architects' room was for some reason cleared of much of built in furniture, which needs to be restored.
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