The Case Study houses that made LA a modernist mecca

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Los Angeles is full of fantastic residential architecture in styles, from Spanish Colonial Revival to Streamline Moderne. But the modernist Case Study Houses, sponsored by Arts & Architecture and designed between the 1940s and 1960s, are both native to Southern California and particularly emblematic of the region.

The houses were intended to be relatively affordable, replicable houses for post-World War II family living, with an emphasis on “new materials and new techniques in house construction,” as the magazine’s program intro put it. Architects involved included Charles Eames, Richard Neutra, and Pierre Koenig.

With the help of photographer Julius Shulman, who shot most of the homes, the most impressive of the homes came to represent not only new styles of home design, but the postwar lifestyle of the booming Southern California region.

A&A commissioned 36 houses and apartment buildings; a couple dozen were built, and about 20 still stand in the greater Los Angeles area (there’s also one in Northern California, a set near San Diego, and one in Phoenix). Some have been remodeled, but others have been well preserved. Eleven were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2013.

Here’s a guide to all the houses left to see—but keep in mind that, true to LA form, most are still private residences. The Eames and Stahl houses, two of the most famous Case Study Houses, are occasionally open to visitors.

As for the unconventional house numbering, post-1962 A&A publisher David Travers writes that the explanation is “inexplicable, locked in the past.”

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