Category Archives: Elites

Kronish House — Neutra Architectural Modernist Classic Saved From Wrecking Ball

Richard Neutra (1892-1970) was one of the most important architects of the mid-century modern period. Born and educated in Vienna, he moved to the US (California) in 1923, where he introduced his conception of mid-century modern design and philosophy — geometric structures making use of glass and flowing internal layout to create a sense of open space.

Designed by this modern master and completed in 1955, the Kronish House came very close to being demolished last summer. The estate sold in a foreclosure auction in January 2011 for $5.8 million and was placed on the market in April for nearly $14 million. Over the summer, unable to sell the “house,” the owner began demolition process by applying for a permit to cap the sewer line.

Kronish Painting by Carrie Graber

The property attained status as a flash point among preservationists. The architect’s aging son, Dion Neutra, launched a campaign raising funds to purchase the property, restore the home, and establish a Neutra Foundation Library. Even the LA city council attempted to intervene and save the landmark, despite a lack of existing legal restrictions.

Kronish House when first built.

Kronish sadly disheveled today.

The Kronish house is the last remaining house in Beverly Hills designed by architect Richard Neutra — one of only three Neutra designs ever built in Beverly Hills and the only one remaining intact (one was demolished, the other completely altered). It spans almost 7,000 square feet on a nearly two-acre lot at 9439 Sunset Boulevard.

The sadly disheveled and endangered house avoided the wrecking ball with a last minute purchase by a buyer who offered up $12.8 million for the property.

Susan Smith, the real-estate agent who helped broker the deal, said that the house was purchased in the name of a trust, and that the buyers had been looking for a property with architectural history.

“It will definitely be identifiable as a Neutra house,” wrote Ms. Smith in an email to concerned interests. “The new owner is going to preserve the house, and this will take about two years,” she added. “It will be a private home.”

Although the new owner isn’t planning on working with Richard Neutra’s son, architect Dion Neutra, “they are keeping the structure of the house,” according to Ms. Smith.

Built for Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Kronish, the home has a formal, pinwheel-shaped design. Three wings radiate from a glass-enclosed garden area visible from several rooms. The house features walls of glass and flat, smooth surfaces. The house featured fine finishes and innovative amenities.

“This is Neutra on a grand masterful scale, and akin to the Josef Von Sternberg House (demolished in 1972) in being more a “villa” with its commanding presence, unusual amenities, and fine finishes that are really only seen at this level of craft in his residential work in Italy and Germany,” says Barbara Lamprecht M. Arch., architectural historian, and restoration consultant. “The Kronish House is an exceptional work of architecture even within the Neutra canon.”

In her definitive book, Richard Neutra: Complete Works (Taschen 2000), Lamprecht quotes Neutra regarding his work on the Kronish House:

In a letter dated 31 January 1955, [Neutra] also shared the basis of his architectural convictions in a poignant paragraph: “Every major project like this takes a good deal of ‘starch’ out of me, my life-strength, but there is always deep satisfaction. … This production would not have been possible if I had been a little more casual about what concerns you, or take it all less to heart than I did. After all and in the end, life is a lonely business for each human being even when there is a crowd around us, and an architect and a client must naturally come close and stay in mutual sympathy while a new and a little happier life can start after all the troubles and noise of building.”

Other Classic Neutra Modernist Designs

Neutra at his own home in California.


Now Is The Winter Of Our Discontent — A Liberal’s Calm Before The Storm

Made glorious summer by this sun of Windy City;
And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried…

…for how long?

For some of us the inauguration of Barack Obama ushered in the potential for an era of liberal progress, of recovery from the dark clouds of George W. Bush… illegal wars, reactionary social policy, and economic destruction.

The republican party nomination process stimulated my presaging fear of tumult as I witnessed enthusiastic applause for the proposed destruction / elimination of women’s’ rights, civil and marriage rights, health care access, criminalized physical expressions of hate, and responsible stewardship of earth’s resources.

While I know that I am not alone in my liberal desires for a more progressive and better nation, it sure feels a lot lonelier.

As I contemplated my sense of alienation and just how far I am away from the American political norm, a battery of political spectrum tests proved that, indeed, I am a Liberal Elite in a right wing, conservative nation…and it is not a good feeling.

For the Liberal Elite contemplating the national mood, it may soon be another kind of Winter…the end (winter) of our contentment…


Nemours Mansion And Gardens — A.I.du Pont’s American Versailles

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Alfred I. du Pont (1864 – 1935) was an American industrialist, financier and philanthropist. A member of the wealthy Du Pont family, Alfred du Pont first rose to prominence through his work in his family’s Delaware-based gunpowder manufacturing plant, E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (better known as DuPont), in which for many years he served as a director of the board and Vice President of operations.

Alfred married Alicia, his second wife, in 1907 and showered her with gifts. By far the grandest of these was the magnificent house that he built for her between 1909 and 1910 on 300-acres in Wilmington, DE. He hired Carrere and Hastings, a prestigious New York architectural firm, to design the mansion in the late-18th-century French style that Alicia adored.

Alfred named the estate Nemours, after the French town that his great-great-grandfather represented in the French Estates General. The mansion resembles a Château and contains more than one-hundred rooms spread over five floors occupying nearly 47,000 sq ft.

The estate has the most developed and largest “jardin à la française” (French formal garden) style landscape garden in North America. The design is patterned after the gardens of Versailles surrounding the Petit Trianon at the Château de Versailles. Their central axis extends ⅓ of a mile from the mansion facade. The grounds are beautifully landscaped with plantings, fountains, pools, statuary, and a pavilion surrounded by woodlands.

The estate, today, is owned by the Nemours Foundation.


Between Heaven & Earth — Arango-Marbrisa House By John Lautner

“Lautner’s dwellings took on dramatically new and varied shapes, as he moved toward the central theme of his career — how to use architecture to sublimate the domestic, and to domesticate the sublime,” states Nicholas Olsberg.

John Lautner Arango House / Casa Marbrisa: a modern visionary house! The design of John Lautner’s Arango House is inspired by the natural features of the site, the sense of space, ocean and sky.

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This 1973 icon of mid-century modern, organic architecture is located in Acapulco Mexico and boasts a floor space of 25,000.00 square feet. The house perches on a very steep site overlooking Acapulco Bay. The upper floor, serving as the main living and entertainment area, composes a large open terrace surrounded by a cantilevered moat/railing pool, wide and deep enough to allow for swimming, that seems to overflow into the ocean below, inspiring a feeling of infinite space.

The curved, sloping concrete roof anchors into the hill at one end, then sweeps over the house and the driveway and returns to the hill at the opposite end. The roof rides low on the hill side and high on the Bay side, allowing an encompassing view of the sky and the ocean. The enclosed family room and bedrooms situated on the lower floor, facing the bay, provide elevated landscape with a continuous planter-railing along the edge of the decks.

“When I first visited the site,” says Lautner, “I got the idea to build a large, open terrace so that all you had was the beauty of the Acapulco Bay and the sky and the mountains. You don’t feel you’re in a building at all. You’re out in space. With the beauty of nature.”

Just viewing the house inspires. The curved lines provide the house a fluid feel, like the water that runs along the edges of the terrace or the clouds that embrace it, yet the dominant impression is one of boldness.

This house is the rarest of residencies: a house that is of itself, the environment, and the world expanding beyond… a house with few precursors and few progeny — a house with integrity. And therein lies its boldness, its originality, and its beauty.

My first thought upon seeing it was, “I want my life to be like that.” Bold and fluid. Calm and inspiring. It is a house of means above most and elevated physically above, while open and embracing. The building has a clear purpose, and every part of it works towards that end — without exception, without shame.

The Arango House is more than just an artistic cure for a feeling of aimlessness or of ordinary existence. It is at once both a relaxant and a stimulant — a work of art that not only compels relaxation of mind and spirit but also inspires to live with more passion and to pursue creatively with zeal.


A-cero Architects’ House In Somosaquas, Spain

A-cero Architects, Spain, are master designers creating residential works of art for the well-heeled.

And, art is one of an A-cero home owner’s passions in Somosaques/Madrid, so in addition to adorning the garden with large sculptures and exhibiting works of art in the interior, the house is a work of art in itself.

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This exceptional property is located in the heart of Somosaguas, part of the town of Pozuelo de Alarcón, northwest of the Spanish capital. As reflected in its residents’ quality of life, this hamlet is one of the largest and richest in the Madrid region.

This is an area of great beauty, with upland flora of oaks, shrubs, and Carrascal Jarales, among other plant species, something very characteristic of a continental climate.

The 1700 square meter house sits on a plot of 4,100 square meters. Its large size allows indoor spaces to be consistent with the overall property and permits wide spaces with up to 7 meters height at the highest point of a room.

Upon entry, the house clearly shows aggressively stylized forms. Horizontal lines dominate volumes, which are superimposed upon each other, from a partially visible basement, forming layers that appear to emerge naturally from the ground.

The lines outside and inside the house produce sculptural volumes. Art and Architecture have gone hand in hand in this project.

On the ground floor, the main lobby is highlighted, situated beneath a curved canopy that adds a great deal of space, from where the rest of the house spreads out: the living room, dining room, master bedroom suite including a closet and bathroom, gymnasium, indoor pool, kitchen and office.

On the second floor lies a painting studio in a long and curved deck, with plentiful natural light and views. The basement floor is dedicated to leisure and health: game room, locker rooms for the outdoor pool, massage room, theater, wine cellar, gym, storage area, and the service and facilities for the entire dwelling.


Hedonist Yachts — What’s Your Pleasure: Convertible Or Hardtop?

Yacht manufacturer Art of Kinetik’s home base is Belgrade, Serbia — where they meld beauty and design with naval architecture, engineering and research & development to create the highest quality, luxury wooden yachts in the world.

The Art of Kinetik yacht collection is constructed in size from 10m to 30m in length. Carefully crafted of the finest materials — teak, mahogany, stainless steel and leather — these yachts illustrate the quality of high design and timeless structure.

Hedonist’s designs best captures the essence of Art of Kinetik in a 19m yacht (open or hardtop) and a perfect pairing of Rolls Royce water jets with a timeless mahogany hull.  This merging of technology and beauty not only creates an eye catching sculpture on the water’s surface, it produces a surprisingly smooth ride at high speeds. An eye to detail is evident throughout as no screw is visible on the finished product.

HEDONIST CONVERTIBLE YACHT

Hedonist convertible model features a sleek profile and mono-frame stainless steel windshield. The streamlined, all-weather canopy unfurls effortlessly to reveal the sights and sounds of every voyage. Inside, elegant white textures and designer accessories create a sea-going version of home. Outside, the mahogany wood and enhanced detailing create a visual sensation never seen before.

HEDONIST HARDTOP YACHT

Hedonist Hardtop blends enviable levels of comfort and refinement with daring looks and robust performance in a 63 foot yacht. Its solid mahogany hull and Rolls Royce water jets combine to deliver a stealthy, smooth ride at speeds up to 40 knots. Aesthetics define every detail: no screws or plastic are visible anywhere — an expression of art and technology.

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These yachts are not without eliciting Comments:

-Mmmhhh. What does this yacht communicate to me? “I have been build with dodgy money, drugs, weapons, laundered funds,” spring to mind — clue perhaps is Belgrade, Serbia? This yacht didn’t come into existence because the owner is a kind, honorable, human being, but most likely with the attitude “I don’t give a shit about anyone or anything apart from ME!” That, to me, is what makes this yacht so very, very ugly!!!!

-Even if I will duplicate myself 50 times, and will have the same job as I have now, I wont be able to buy such a thing in a hundred years… It is painful how beautiful this machine is…


Arab Modernism — Helal New Moon Residence by Steven Ehrlich Architects

Helal New Moon Residence by Steven Ehrlich Architects, United Arab Emirates — 35,000-square-foot residence, located in the Persian Gulf. Searing temperatures and ample desalinated water allowed the desert site to be transformed into an oasis with pools and landscaping.

Sheathed in shimmering aluminum, a massive curved roof shelters and unites the compound’s series of two-story buildings. The canopy forms a crescent moon, the symbol of new life that tops the minarets of Islam and is supported by stone-clad columns. The whole structure suggests a giant Bedouin tent, with the football-field-sized roof, cantilevered 30 feet on each side, casting a giant swathe of shade.

The main entrance is approached through date palm grove aisles. A reflecting pool, which flows indoors and provides cooling, surrounds the front façade. A traditional lattice sunscreen filters direct sun. Gardens, fountains, shady courtyards, and terraces surround and penetrate the buildings, making it a desert paradise.


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