Mid-century/desert modern houses
Named for Pittsburgh department store magnate Edgar J. Kaufmann, this “machine in the desert” as it’s been called, was designed by famed modernist architect Richard Neutra as a winter retreat for the Kaufmann family, and completed in 1946.
It’s been said that no house at the time had done as much to advance the modernist movement as this one, and it’s no wonder. Neutra’s seamless melding of the indoors and out, along with his combined use of natural & modern building materials, not to mention his innovative pinwheel design where rooms spiral outwards from a central living area, were all pretty revolutionary at the time.
After Kaufmann’s death ten years later, the house suffered through many questionable alterations and remodels by subsequent owners (including Barry Manilow!) then sat empty for several years until it was rediscovered by Brent & Beth Harris who undertook a major restoration of the property in 1993.
Today, many critics call it Neutra’s masterpiece and place it among the most important houses of the 20th century.
Only a portion of the home can be seen from the street but will still be worth the pilgrimage for most modernists.
Fun Fact: Ten years before enlisting Richard Neutra to build his Palm Springs winter retreat, Edgar J. Kaufmann hired Frank Lloyd Wright to design another house for him in Pennsylvania; the iconic Falling Water.
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