Oct 21, 201102:51 PMPoint of View
The METROPOLIS Blog
A Day at the (Lovell) Beach (House)
From the MAK Center:About the Lovell Beach House Dr. Philip Lovell was a naturopath, an anti-drug practitioner who advocated natural methods of healing and preventative care through exercise and a vegetarian diet. Among the methodologies he espoused were massage, heat and water cures, open air sleeping and regular nude sunbathing… He was best known for his weekly "Care of the Body" column, published in the Los Angeles Times. Leah Lovell… ran a Kindergarten with (Rudolf Schindler’s wife) Pauline. The site for the Beach House was a level lot along the Balboa Island boardwalk in Newport Beach. Space was at a premium and it was necessary to separate the house from vehicular and pedestrian traffic and to preserve ocean views. Schindler's solution was to raise the house above the street, providing a play yard and parking facilities at ground level. But rather than employing stilts or pilotis, the architect created a structural skeleton based on five free-standing concrete frames, shaped like square figure-eights. These not only support the house's two-story volume, but provide the infrastructure that supports plaster walls, floors and roof. Completely exposed to view, the concrete frames give the house its distinctive appearance and allowed Schindler to base his design on the shaping of space, rather than on structural exigencies.
Fifteen experts spoke, thirty minutes each.One house, fifteen takes. “Rashomon” on the beach. Kimberli Meyer directs the MAK Center: “It’s amazing to hear how different people approach this, some think about it structurally, some in terms of the social program and what health meant in the 1920's, some say how its tied to its site, others talk about the incredibly powerful formal aspects. “This house is just not like anything else. The concrete frames set the tone, and the crazy ways the stairs weave in and out of that frame house is so unusual and striking. I was surprised at how it is heroic modernism with incredible intimacy. It's very close to the body, it feels not alien to us at all.”
Edward Lifson is an award-winning architecture critic, and writer. He teaches writing and thinking about architecture at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles. He was a visiting and a Loeb Fellow at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design (GSD); as well as an Annenberg Fellow and a Getty arts journalism fellow. He works with USC’s American Academy in China. He lived and studied architecture and urbanism in Paris, Berlin, Florence and London, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles and was a reporter and correspondent for National Public Radio for many years.