Rudolf (Rudolph) Schindler, along with his contemporary Richard Neutra, was born and raised in Vienna and studied architecture at the Wagnersschule under the primary influence of Carl Konig as well as Otto Wagner and Adolf Loos, who’s work was also inspired Neutra and Frank Lloyd Wright. It was at this time, in the early 1900’s, that the connections made among these three dynamic architects would link them together as a force that would plant the seeds for what we now know recognize as the mid-century modernist movement of architecture in America.
Both Rudolph Schindler and Richard Neutra made their way to America in the early1920’s. While Neutra went to work directly for Wright at Taliesin, Schindler, who was inspired by his 1910 Wasmuth Portfolio, was not hired directly by him until later. Instead, he came to America by way of Chicago, after rejecting the commercialism of New York, wanting to be close to Wright’s Oak Park offices. His early mentor there was the famed Chicago architect Louis Sullivan. Schindler finally received an offer to work with Wright running his American operations while Wright was out of country working on the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. It was during this time he met and married his wife Pauline, and was asked to move to LA to oversee the Hollyhock House project for oil heiress Aline Barnsdall. The recognition of his work during this project led to commissions of his own, including the now famous Schindler Chace House, which was designed as a communal living and working space for two couples, the Schindlers and Clyde and Marian Chace. It stands to this day as an excellent example of his signature style: a complex, 3 dimensional design, made with warm materials and vibrant color.
Rudolph Schindler was considered a bit of a maverick and a renegade. His colorful charm and reputation as a philanderer added to his mystique, which made him a flash point in the Los Angeles arts scene at the time. The Schindler house became a gathering place for artists, painters, singers, actors and fellow designers…among them, Richard Neutra, who moved in with his wife to share this space with the Schindlers. During his stay there, Richard Neutra was given the Lovell Health House project, originally intended for Schindler, which led to a falling out between them that wouldn’t be repaired until his death. The greater architectural establishment in this period did not recognize his work, as it didn’t follow the International Style popular at the time. However, many of his ideas are more easily embraced today, after being adopted by the likes of Frank Gehry and Thom Mayne among others. The influence of his intimate use of organic material, intricate built in detail, and innovative construction of space can be seen throughout modern Californian construction. The Schindler House now is home to the MAK Center for Art and Architecture in LA. It is the best example of the expression of his philosophy and exploration of the relationship of space light and form. In addition there are small commercial and residential properties in Southern California preserved and protected for our appreciation, such as the How House, Lovell Beach House, Pueblo Rivera Court, and the Wolfe House.