By Justyn Fulton and Michael Yu, Oct. 12, 2021

After nearly two years of being closed, the historic Neutra VDL Studio and Residences in Silverlake, California has opened its doors to the public once again. Owned by Cal Poly Pomona, the Neutra serves as an important piece of Los Angeles culture.

The Neutra VDL house is open once again and is currently offering tours and hosting events for the public. The current event is called “Built In” and showcases the built-in architectural design and historic elements of the house with works from over 32 artists.

The Neutra VDL house reopens after being closed for two years. (Michael Yu | The Poly Post)

Now that the house has been open for a week, the staff of the Neutra have returned to working at the house. Noam Saragosti, resident director and CPP architecture professor, shared his experience with the grand reopening of the house.

“The exhibition that we had for the reopening was designed to be very accessible. That is why we decided to have a big group show with 32 participants all from different backgrounds and practices to showcase their art,” said Saragosti. “We wanted to invite a large community to the house.”

However, reopening the house also came with many challenges. Saragosti shared that it was a long process of learning how to implement COVID-19 protocols and guidelines into the house and waiting for the university’s orders on how to address pandemic related issues.

The Neutra house follows COVID-19 guidelines such as requiring face masks and maintaining a safe distance away from others. Tours have also been reduced to only allow four to six people instead of the previous 10.

Designed in 1932 by Viennese American architect Richard Neutra, the Neutra VDL house is an architectural marvel. The house serves as a cultural hub in LA for many artists, writers and producers.

The house features a clean design. The furniture is all spaced as to not make the house seem visually busy, and the large windows offer a feeling of freedom, even in the smaller rooms. When walking through the house the sound of distant running water can be heard, bestowing the house with a very meditative atmosphere.

Nature seeps through the house’s architecture, giving a feeling of being connected to the outdoors even when inside. The house’s design removes the traditional architectural distinction between the indoors and the outdoors and combines them for a truly unique experience.

A view of the house’s patio. (Michael Yu | The Poly Post)

Ever since the Neutra VDL house was bequeathed to CPP in 1990, CPP architecture students have the ability to become student docents at the house to apply what they have learned about architecture at Cal Poly Pomona toward the Neutra.

Docents apply their knowledge through leading tours and assisting with projects around the house. Architecture major Maria Jose Burgos Duran shared her experience working at the Neutra.

Docents apply their knowledge through leading tours and assisting with projects around the house. Architecture major Maria Jose Burgos Duran shared her experience working at the Neutra.

“I help with tours and events like the reopening event we had last week, where I helped make sure people didn’t disrupt anything,” said Duran. “This job is about informing people about the history and architecture in LA.”

Another way the docents assist is through renovation projects to the house, such as the recent renovation of the roof that allowed water to once again flow through it.

“The house definitely has renovation projects here and there. When we receive a certain amount of money we begin renovations,” said Karla Jaime, an architecture student. “It is a historic landmark, so we try to keep it as original as possible.”

As the Neutra VDL house continues to return to pre-pandemic operations, the staff work to further the Neutra’s mission of cultivating education, architecture, art and culture in all generations.

“We were patient during the lockdown and are very grateful to have had the opportunity to reopen and have life back in the house,” said Saragosti.

To learn more about the history of the Neutra VDL house or to plan a tour, visit the Neutra VDL website.

Featured image by Michael Yu.

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