|Location||833 N. Kings Road, West Hollywood, California|
|Area||1 acre (0.40 ha)|
|NRHP reference #||71000150|
|Added to NRHP||July 14, 1971|
The Schindler House was such a departure from existing residential architecture because of what it did not have; there is no conventional living room, dining room or bedrooms in the house. The residence was meant to be a cooperative live/work space for two young families. The concrete walls and sliding glass panels made novel use of industrial materials, while the open floor plan integrated the external environment into the residence, setting a precedent for California architecture in particular.
After completing the Hollyhock House, Schindler and his wife Pauline vacationed in Yosemite in October 1921. Inspired by the trip, Schindler returned to create a design for multiple families to share a modern living area, much like Curry Village, Yosemite National Park.
The Schindler House is laid out as two interlinking "L" shaped apartments (referred to as the Schindler and Chace apartments) using the basic design of the camp site that he had seen a year before. Each apartment was designed for a separate family, consisting of 2 studios, connected by a utility room. The utility room was meant to serve the functions of a kitchen, laundry, sewing room, and storage. The four studios were originally designated for the four members of the household (Rudolph & Pauline Schindler and Clyde & Marian Chace). Each person was assigned a studio marked in the plans with his or her initials, and everyone converged in the communal kitchen for domestic chores. The house also has a guest studio with its own kitchen and bathroom. The house, at just under 3,500 square feet (330 m2), sits on a 20,000-square-foot (1,900 m2) lot.
When Schindler first submitted plans to the local planning authorities, they were denied, citing this radical, at the time, new method of construction. After many trips to the local planning office and extensive talks to convince them of its merit, the Building department granted him a temporary permit, meaning that they reserved the right to halt construction at any stage.
The house is built on a flat concrete slab, which is both the foundation and the final floor. The walls are concrete tilt up slabs, poured into forms on top of the foundation. The tilt up slabs are separated by 3 inches (76 mm), filled with concrete, clear glass or frosted glass. The tilt up panels act as the hard sheltering wall at the back of the house, and a softer permeable screen at the front. Schindler had long been fascinated by the construction method of tilt up concrete slabs, having done extensive research on them in his early days working for Ottenheimer, Stern, and Reichert. He was now intent on using this method for the new home he was designing, along with his friend Clyde Chace.
With Schindler as architect and Chace as builder to save costs, construction began in November 1921. Construction was complete by May 1922, with a total cost of $12,550. The landscaping, furniture and sleeping baskets remained to be completed. The Chaces and Schindlers shared the house from the summer of 1922 until July 1924 when the Chaces moved to Florida.
Schindler's friend, partner and rival, Richard Neutra along with his wife Dione and son Frank lived in the Chace apartment from March 1925 until the summer of 1930.
Pauline Gibling Schindler left the house and her husband in August 1927, Rudolph remained at the house until his death in 1953. The Chace apartment had a variety of famous and creative people live in it, including; art dealer & collector Galka Scheyer, dancer John Bovingdon, novelist Theodore Dreiser, photographer Edward Weston and composer John Cage. Pauline Schindler returned to live in the Chace Studios part of the house, separate from her former husband, in the late 1930s and stayed until her death in May 1977.
Pauline Schindler died in May 1977, leaving the house in the Schindler family until the Friends of the Schindler House (FOSH), mostly friends of the Schindler family, purchased the property in June 1980 from the California State Office of Historic Preservation with the aid of a $160,000 state grant. The house was restored by FOSH in the mid-1980s. By this time, the West Hollywood neighborhood had been rezoned to allow four-story apartment buildings. Some FOSH members, including Gregory Ain (who greatly admired Schindler), advocated that the property should be sold and the house rebuilt in the desert, because its context had changed so profoundly. Some aspects of the restoration were criticized, as they erased changes Schindler had made to the structure over time. Over the years, the Schindler House received $200,000 for restoration from West Hollywood and the State of California, and $50,000 for operations from the College of Environmental Design at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.
In August 1994, the Friends of the Schindler House signed an agreement with the Museum für angewandte Kunst Wien or "MAK" (the Austrian Museum of Applied Arts / Contemporary Art, Vienna) to create the nonprofit MAK Center for Art and Architecture at the Schindler House. The agreement allowed FOSH to retain full ownership of the property, with MAK being responsible for financial obligations and programming. The programming at the MAK Center at the Schindler House investigates the relationship between art and architecture, and includes exhibitions, lectures, symposia and concerts. A $250,000 grant MAK was used to restore the house as a study center for experimental architecture, and the museum also provided an undisclosed amount for operating costs.
To guarantee that the house survives financially, the MAK has sought early on to turn it into a public attraction, a rental venue for various functions and a conference center for design students and professionals. The MAK Center also sponsors six month residencies for art and architecture students annually. The residents live in Schindler's Mackey Apartments in Los Angeles, owned by the MAK Center. The third Schindler residence to come under the stewardship of the MAK Center, the 2,400-square-foot Fitzpatrick-Leland House was donated to the center by Russ Leland in 2008.
In recent years, the Schindler House has had to contend with the rising density of the surrounding neighborhood. The surrounding neighborhood is currently dominated by 4-story condominium and apartment buildings designed by Lorcan O'Herlihy, vastly different from the original expansive lots for single family residences. The condominium was built despite efforts by numerous notable architects who were invited by the MAK Center in 2003 to submit alternative proposals for the site. Selected by a jury that included Frank Gehry, Chris Burden, Michael Asher and Richard Koshalek, all of the resulting proposals--including the three winning designs, by Odile Decq, Eric Owen Moss and Carl Pruscha--were organized into an exhibition, "A Tribute to Preserving Schindler's Paradise," at the house. Among the other competition entrants were prominent architects such as Coop Himmelb(l)au, Lebbeus Woods, Dominique Perrault, Zaha Hadid (who proposed a 21-story tower) and Peter Eisenman (who proposed building partly underground).
The Schindler House was included in a list of all-time top 10 houses in Los Angeles in a Los Angeles Times survey of experts in December 2008.