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Richard J. Neutra Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: PRB
Date: Dec 1994

Biographical History

Richard J. Neutra (1892-1970) was an Austrian-American architect. Born in Vienna, Austria, he studied under Adolf Loos at the Technische Hochschul and was influenced by Otto Wagner. He worked in the studio of Erich Mendelsohn in Germany from 1921-1922, then in 1923 moved to the United States (he became a United States citizen in 1929).

Neutra worked briefly for Frank Lloyd Wright before moving to California, where he opened his own practice in Los Angeles, the Richard J. Neutra Institute. (His son, with whom Neutra worked later in his career, maintains the office today as the Richard and Dion Neutra Architecture / Neutra Institute for Survival Through Design.) In addition to numerous private homes in California Neutra's works include the Airman Memorial Chapel at Miramar Naval Air Station, the Hall of Records in Los Angeles, the Orange County Courthouse in Santa Ana, the Germological Institute of America in Brentwood, and the Bewobau Housing Colony in Waldorf, Germany.

He was known for taking pains to ascertain the real needs of his clients, no matter the size of the job in question, rather than attempting to impose his own artistic vision on a project. Writing in Sunset magazine in 1943, Neutra explained that the success or "livability" of a house could be measured by how much living could be enjoyed in every part of it each hour of the day. A proponent of a modern style centered on the integration of buildings with their natural surroundings, Neutra wrote and spoke extensively on his architectural philosophy.

Neutra collaborated successfully with a series of partners including his wife, Dione; his protege, Robert Alexander; and his son, Dion. His autobiography, Life and Shape, was published in 1962. Two collections of his essays, letters and diaries were published posthumously, in 1986 and 1989.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

Spanning 1940 to 1966, the Richard J. Neutra Papers comprises biographical material, correspondence, drawings, memorabilia, recordings, and writings of the Austrian-born American architect (1892-1970). Predominantly writings and recordings of his lectures and speeches, the collection illuminates Neutra's ideas on architecture, design, and planning.

Biographical material consists of contributions written by Neutra himself as well as by his wife Dione and his sons Raymond and Dion.

Correspondence includes drafts and revisions of outgoing letters of Neutra and of the Neutra Institute.

Drawings consists of original architectural perspectives for the Mymensinch University Convocation Hall and for the Orange County Court House, and photographic reproductions of some sketches by Neutra.

An assortment of news clippings, photostats, and pamphlets constitute Memorabilia. There is also a 16mm film of an interview with Neutra. The film has been copied onto video and both the original and the VHS copy are included in the collection.

Recordings contains audiorecordings of Neutra's lectures, speeches, talks, presentations, etc.

Writings encompasses essays, speeches and notes. Essays include published and unpublished articles by Neutra and pamphlets issued by the Richard J. Neutra Institute; speeches include both lectures and addresses. Neutra's notes form a journal of ideas for lectures and articles as well as writings on specific projects (Orange County Court House, Tower of Hope, VDL House, West Pakistan University), and on the business of the architectural firm, foundation, and institute that were founded by and named for him.

Arrangement of the Collection

Correspondence is arranged chronologically. Writings are first arranged alphabetically by type; speeches (both lectures and addresses) and essays are then arranged alphabetically by the title supplied by Neutra while Neutra's notes are arranged by date.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

Special Collections Research Center has the papers of a number of noted architects. Please refer to the SCRC Subject Index for a complete listing.

Subject Headings


Neutra, Richard Joseph, 1892-1970.

Corporate Bodies

Richard J. Neutra Institute.
Richard J. Neutra and Associates.


Architects -- United States.
Architectural design.
Architectural firms.
Architectural practice.
Architecture -- Environmental aspects.
Architecture -- Human factors.
Architecture -- Psychological aspects.
Architecture -- Study and teaching.
Architecture -- United States -- 20th century.
Architecture -- United States.
Architecture, American.
Architecture, Domestic.
Art -- Philosophy.
Austrian Americans.
City planning -- United States.
International style (Architecture) -- United States.

Genres and Forms

16mm (photographic film size)
Clippings (information artifacts)
Notes (documents)
Sound recordings.
Speeches (documents)



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Richard J. Neutra Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Table of Contents

Biographical material