Technology and Environment: The Postwar House in Southern California

Danielle Rago
May 12, 2013 2:20AM

As part of the Getty's Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in LA exhibition series, Cal Poly Pomona College of Environmental Design focuses in on the postwar house in Southern California. Featuring work by celebrated Los Angeles-based architects - Richard Neutra, Raphael Soriano, Craig Ellwood, Pierre Koenig, Rudolph Schindler, John Lautner, Ray Kappe, Charles Moore, and Frank Gehry; who have established and proliferated the modern ethos, as well as an overall LA aesthetic. 

The exhibition effectively situates the postwar house within the socio-political and technological climate of the day. Clever advertisements that position certain products and practices depict the user or inhabitant genuinely enjoying their surrounding environment, from a new kitchen to a new home. The popular text and imagery of the day succeeds not only by selling the postwar house but also, advocating for a particular lifestyle that is readily available in Southern California.

This lifestyle and its related architecture is demonstrated in the exhibit through nine residential houses developed during this time, from 1940 to 1975, by the aforementioned group of architects. These homes were grouped thematically by type and delve into the varied styles of production and use of available technologies and materials at the time.

The exhibited homes exemplify the range of work realized during this prolific period of architecture and design in Los Angeles. From the mass-produced and standardized aesthetic championed by the Case Study House Program to the minimalist approach that came out of the International Style, to the varied and complex forms of the postmodern generation who applied new and exotic materials such as steel and stucco the exterior facade.

The exhibit features newly constructed models of postwar residences, historic drawings and photographs by Julius Shulman, among others from the ENV Archives-Special Collection, and the Getty Research Institute and Architecture and Design Collection, UCSB. 

Technology and Environment is currently on view at the Cal Poly Pomona W. Keith and Janet Kellogg University Art Gallery through July 12, 2013.

Images Copyright Tom Zasadzinski.

Danielle Rago