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The Eames House in Santa Monica

Sep 21, 2010 by Lisa Newton

Located a little off the beaten path at 203 Chautauqua Boulevard in Santa Monica, is the Eames House, designed by husband-and-wife style pioneers Charles and Ray Eames, it was built in 1949 to serve as their home and studio.

The Eames House was Number 8 of the Case Study Houses, which was an experiment in American residential architecture, sponsored by the Arts & Architecture magazine to build model inexpensive and efficient model homes for the 1945 United States housing boom– due to the end of World War II.

In addition, each home built would be for a real or hypothetical client would have to take into consideration every client’s particular housing needs–a house and studio for the Eames’ is described by their foundation in the following:

The first plan of their home, known as the Bridge House, was designed by Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen in 1945. Because it used off-the-shelf parts ordered from catalogues, and the war had caused a shortage in materials delivery, the steel did not arrive until late 1948. By then, Charles and Ray had "fallen in love with the meadow," in Ray’s words, and felt that the site required a different solution. Source: Eames Foundation

So, a new plan was needed.

The new design tucked the house sidelong into the slope, with an 8 foot (2.4 m) tall by 200 foot (60 m) long concrete retaining wall on the uphill side. A mezzanine level was added, making use of a prefabricated spiral stair that was to have been the lower entrance. The upper level holds the bedrooms and overlooks the double-height living room. A courtyard was also introduced, separating the residence from the studio space. This revised scheme required only one additional beam. The 17 foot (5.1 m) tall facade is broken down into a rigidly geometric, almost Mondrianesque composition of brightly colored panels between thin steel columns and braces, painted black. The entry door is marked with a gold-leaf panel above. An existing row of eucalyptus trees was preserved along the exposed wall of the house, providing some shading and a visual contrast with the house’s bold facade. Source: Wikipedia

From the time of its completion, the Eames lived there, making use of the studio and the grounds, until their deaths; Charles – 1978; and Ray – 1988.

Today, the Eames House remains in the Eames family and is preserved much as it was in when the Eames lived there. On July 15, 1988, the Eames House was declared a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument #381, and on September 20, 2006, the Eames House was designated a National Historic Landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places on the same day.

Slider blueprint photo courtesy of Architecture Week.

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Architecture, Culture, Pacific Palisades, SoCal
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