Charles and Ray Eames designed their Pacific Palisades home in 1949 as part of the Case Study Program, which was begun by John Entenza, editor of Arts & Architecture Magazine. The program invited some of the best architects of the day to share their ideas for using new materials and methods to construct well-designed, mass-producible housing. The two-part, rectangular house was constructed of prefabricated materials and off-the-shelf products. Now, the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) has made the mid-20th century modern architecture landmark a subject of its Conserving Modern Architecture Initiative.
The Eames House Conservation Project, as it is called, is revealing challenges related to utilizing contemporary materials in a landmark structure, even one of modern vintage. GCI scientists are developing a long-term conservation plan in collaboration with the Eames Foundation and project architects Escher GuneWardena. However, inspections of the house have already produced results. GCI conservator Emily MacDonald-Korth’s paint excavation revealed hand-mixed grays, likely created by Ray Eames. Conservator Arlen Heginbotham identified the wood on a living room wall as a species of eucalyptus similar to the large eucalyptus trees on the property. The foundation is also looking at the environment of the site. The house is situated in a meadow overlooking the ocean.