Los Angeles is an amazing place for architecture, especially if you have an interest in mid-century architecture like we do. You can drive through various neighborhoods in both the LA basin and the Valley and see housing tracts build by famous architects in the 1950s and 1960s – and drool over the ones that are up for sale, even those that haven’t been updated in a few decades and still have all their original furnishings. We have been to a few fantastic estate sales at those types of houses, and often that is the only way that you can get inside to see what it looks like. It turns out that some of the most famous examples of MCM architecture are open for tours and anyone with a reservation can go check them out. Here are four must see modern house tours in LA:
The Eames House. Touring the exterior of the house in the Pacific Palisades is easy to do with a simple reservation. It is open every day except Wednesdays, Sundays and holidays. The grounds are fun to explore, but if you really want to get a sense of the Eames’ property, you can arrange a private tour for 1-4 people to take a closer look.
The Stahl House. This house is an LA icon, appearing in everything from architecture magazines to fashion magazines to Hollywood movies. It is even more breathtaking in person. Tours are offered several days a week with advance reservations. Parking is limited, and you’ll get the best rates if you can fit a few friends into the car with you. Most of the tours are in the late afternoon, so you can see the impressive sunset views that the house offers.
The Neutra VDL Studio and Residences. This house was built in 1932 by architect Richard Neutra and clearly features the mid century aesthetic of bringing the outside in. It was intended to show that some designs that were used in high-end architectural projects could be used for designs for less affluent clients to create homes that could provide affordable housing but also offer plenty of comfort and privacy. Tours are given by Cal Poly Pomona students Saturdays, with some holiday closures, from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm and no appointment is needed.
The Schindler House. Located in West Hollywood, California, Schindler was built in 1922 by Rudolph M. Schindler and served as a center for both art and architecture. The house was designed as a live-work space to house two couples with one guest apartment, and clearly captures the modernist spirit of simplicity and openness in its layout. The house is open Wednesdays through Sundays, with free admission on late Friday afternoons.
One last house worth mentioning, even though you can’t tour it, is Frank Gehry’s house in Santa Monica. You may not be able to go inside (since Gehry still lives there), but you can stop by and get a glimpse of the exterior of this unusual building.