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When Rudolf Schindler put concrete on the beach

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Valeria Carullo

Rudolf Schindler’s California Beach House for Philip M Lovell, photographed during construction in 1926, clearly shows its reinforced concrete structure

The Lovell Beach House under construction (1926)

Rudolf Schindler (1887-1953) was one of the many Central European architects who moved to the United States in the first half of the 20th century, but unlike most of his colleagues he left his native Vienna – where he had trained with both Otto Wagner and Adolf Loos – before World War I, never to return to Europe.

The Lovell Beach House, built by the ocean in Newport Beach, is widely recognised as one of his most important works, as well as an icon of the modern movement in America. Built in reinforced concrete, it clearly reveals its structure on the street front, where the house is raised above ground level. The two-storey living-dining area features full height windows on two sides of the house, with sea views to the south. The house was listed as a Registered Historic Place in California in 1974.

Three years later, Schindler’s client, Philip M Lovell, also commissioned the famous Lovell Health House in Los Angeles from another Austrian émigré, Richard Neutra. Both architects had a lasting influence on American residential architecture, especially in southern California.