This masterwork of modern residential architecture, commissioned by the noted poet Josephine Ain Chuey and painter Robert Chuey, was designed by master architect Richard Neutra and constructed between 1956-57. The two-and-a-half acre hilltop property is perched on a ridge at the top of Sunset Plaza Drive.
The Chueys carefully analyzed the site with Neutra to determine the precise orientation for the 1,896 square foot house. It served as an intellectual and cultural gathering place for years as the setting for parties, poetry readings and the showing of Chuey’s paintings. It is also here that Josephine, as an early follower of the psychologist Timothy Leary, participated in LSD experiments.
The design of the house encouraged a lively social life, with the living room serving as a focal point. With its floor to ceiling glazing, it is situated to provide unobstructed views of Sunset Plaza Canyon and the Los Angeles basin to the south, and opens onto an expansive deck that appears to float over the hillside. Robert Chuey’s studio is another dramatic space, with a 10-foot-high ceiling.
The house bears the hallmarks of the International Style, with its smooth, stucco surfaces, wide roof overhangs that accentuate the home’s strong horizontal lines, expansive use of glass, and living spaces that graciously extend to the outdoors. The pair of reflecting pools that frame the living room and deck to the east and the extended beam “spiderleg” are trademarks of Neutra’s International Style residences.
As an internationally renowned master architect, Richard Neutra helped develop the style of California Modern and was an immense influence on American designers. His surviving works are highly regarded and considered some of the most significant of the twentieth century.
Many of his commissions, including the Chuey House, perfectly meld the interior and exterior of a space such that it would, as Neutra stated, “place man in relationship with nature; that’s where he developed and where he feels most at home.” In 1949, Neutra was featured on the cover of Time magazine. He was one of the few architects to ever achieve this level of notoriety and recognition so early on for his then-and-emerging architectural legacy.