Rudolph Schindler is among the most prominent Southern California architects in history, famous for his innovative contributions to modern architecture. He was born in Austria to a father who was a wood and metal craftsman and a mother who was a dressmaker. He studied architecture at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts, graduating in 1911 and becoming inspired by the foremost modern architects of the early 20th century, like Otto Wagner, Adolf Loos, and Frank Lloyd Wright.
During his time at the university, Schindler met Richard Neutra, who would become a lifelong friend and friendly design adversary. Both architects followed similar career trajectories, moving to Los Angeles and becoming among the most important architects who specialized in designing modernist homes well-suited for the California climate.
Schindler also discovered the work of Frank Lloyd Wright during his time at the university, making several efforts to reach him through various letters. The two finally connected in 1914, with Wright hiring Schindler several years later to work in his stead while Wright pursued the commission for the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. During this time, Schindler was largely responsible for creating the drawings and overseeing the construction of one of Wright’s most significant early works, the Hollyhock House.
Despite being heavily influenced by other architects of his time, Schindler developed a unique style all his own that responded to the technological, cultural, economic, and climatic conditions of the time. His homes were warm and inviting yet highly structural, responding to and maximizing the conditions of each individual site. He was also particularly famous for designing beautiful homes that fit within tight budgets, making his designs accessible to a wide variety of demographics.
Schindler was a highly prolific designer, so it’s tough to narrow down his most important works, but we picked a few of our favorites for you to check out below.
The Tischler House is one of Schindler’s most beloved and well-known designs. Artist Adolph Tischler commissioned Schindler to create the residence on their extremely steep lot. Schindler optimized the lot through a three-level residence that maximizes the surrounding views with thoughtfully placed windows and elevations while adhering to Tischler’s modest budget.
One of Schindler’s signatures was to expose the structural elements of his designs, which is exemplified in the visible wooden rafters and beams of this dwelling. He also used walls of glass to help blend the home into its surroundings, a characteristic of his and other modernist architects' styles.
Another stunning example of Schindler’s ability to maximize challenging sites, the Kallis House comprises several different structures blended together to flow down the slope of the hillside. A big fan of using industrial materials in his designs, Schindler used split-stake fencing on certain areas of the facade to camouflage the structure with its surroundings.
Van Dekker House
One of Schindler’s largest designs, the 3,756-square-foot Van Dekker House features various types of windows to let in natural light, including clerestory windows, sliding wooden windows, and custom windows that align with the shape of the roof. Schindler also included built-in cabinetry composed of vertical wood sliding throughout the home, unifying the interior with the exterior.
Though Schindler primarily focused on single-family dwellings, he did design two apartment buildings in Silver Lake. The Bubeshko Apartments functioned as gathering places for local artists, with sculptor Gordon Newell creating decorative caps around several of the garages and architect Gregory Ain calling one of the apartments home for several years.
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