The Project

A national revival is underway for mid-century modern architecture, including the works of Richard Neutra.

He was “like a beacon of a brave new world,” says Thomas Hines in his book “Richard Neutra and the Search for Modern Architecture.”

However many historic buildings of that era are being destroyed for economic reasons.

A community-funded effort in Los Altos, California, changed this.

In 2005, the City of Los Altos, the Los Altos Community Foundation, and a group of citizens interested in preserving architectural history joined together to save a small Los Altos house designed in 1935 by this renowned California architect and completed in 1939.

Between 1930 and 1940 Neutra did about a dozen projects in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 1935, he began designing three houses for two poets, Jacqueline Johnson, and Clayton Stafford.

Two small houses with identical floor plans were the residences of Stafford and his wife and Jacqueline Johnson. The group saved Johnson’s home.

He built a third smaller house for Johnson. These homes formed a small commune in a prune orchard.

The Johnson house was moved to City-owned land and has been renovated for use as a community center.

The facility has a conference room, kitchen, bathroom, integrated landscape, and an HDTV audio/video system.

The system shows videos on the history of modern architecture in Los Altos and the greater San Francisco Bay Area.

This system also serves the audio/visual needs of the conference room meetings.

Combining preservation and reuse was the essence of the Los Altos Neutra House Project.