Hollywood Hills

Richard Neutra’s Chuey House, a midcentury marvel, could be torn down

Preservation West
Richard Neutra’s midcentury marvel, the Chuey House faces a worrying future. Image: Chuey House, photographed by Julius Shulman in 1960. (Courtesy of J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles—2004.R.10)
Richard Neutra’s midcentury marvel, the Chuey House faces a worrying future. Image: Chuey House, photographed by Julius Shulman in 1960. (Courtesy of J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles—2004.R.10)

In the Hollywood Hills of California, a house by esteemed late architect Richard Neutra is in danger of being bulldozed. The midcentury modern home is listed on Redfin but is being marketed as a “truly unique development opportunity.”

The Austrian-American architect practiced for most of his career in Southern California, designing the iconic house for poet Josephine Ain Chuey in 1956.

Located on 2460 Sunset Plaza Drive, the house offers expansive views over Los Angeles, taking in sights such as the Hollywood Sign, Griffith Park Observatory, Downtown Los Angeles, Century City, and Santa Monica. However, this may in fact be the property’s downfall. Such sights are listed by Redfin, but missing is any description of the building.

Redfin’s description of the “lot” fails to include the glass walls Neutra designed, or the decking that cantilevers over a cliff and merges outdoor and indoor living. Chuey, unlike Redfin, was chuffed with the architect’s work. “You are an alchemist who has transmuted earth, house, and sky into a single enchantment,” she wrote in a letter to him after moving in. “I can only hope that I can in some measure grow up to the wholeness and balance embodied here.”

The poet lived in the house with her husband, the painter Robert Chuey. As Jamie Robinson of The Spaces notes out, Sylvia Lavin’s book Form Follows Libido: Architecture and Richard Neutra in a Psychoanalytic Culture, said that “[both] Mr. and Mrs. Chuey thought of the house as a device that would increase their creative energies.” More fuel for creative energies was also present, as the house was also home to LSD experimentation by Timothy Leary. This too is omitted from the listing.

The listing in fact includes very few images of the house, with most being of the views out over the Hollywood Hills. All this points to the indication that the house is not being sold as a place to live, but rather as something that can be knocked down.

Related Stories