Sunday, 9 December 2012

Cultural History Map

Eames House/ Case Study House #8

203 Chautauqua Bld. Pacific Palisades, CA 90272, Los Angeles, California, 

Located in the Pacific Palisades, the Eames House sits on a bluff overlooking the Pacific. The Pacific Palisades is a community that sits between Santa Monica and Malibu in Los Angeles, California.  

Kauffman, Eric. “Climate and Topogrpahy.” Accessed December 7, 2012.

California is low in relation to sea level, and Pacific Palisades, being right in a peninsula on the coastline of the Pacific Ocean, is less than 100 feet below sea level. However the city is guarded by mountains north of it, which are up to 4000 feet above sea level.

The land was first inhabited by the Native Americans who had settled and made home along the seaside canyons. In 1839, the 6656 acre of wooded canyons, broad plateaus and low valleys was granted by the Governor of California to Francisco Marquez and Ysidro Reyes establishing Rancho Boca de Santa Monica. Pacific Palisades was founded on this land by Reverend Charles H. Scott in 1922 as a site for the Summer Assemblies of Chautauqua Movement. The movement grew from the idea of a summer school for Sunday teachers of the Methodist Church back in the 1870s. The Pacific palisade assembly took place over a six week period, drawing people from throughout the southwest. In 1945, February 15, John Entenza purchased five acres of land in the community of Pacific Palisades which became the core of the Case Study Program.

The Eames house clustered with four other single family case study residences. Like the other houses, the Eames House was located on a hillside lot along the urban periphery of Los Angeles. Despite being surrounded by densely populated core cities, the foothills create a sense of privacy and isolation. Historian Reyner Banham describes the foothills as “that is what the foothill ecology is really all about: narrow tortuous residential roads serving precipitous house plots that often back up directly on unimproved wilderness even now (1972); an air of deeply buried privacy even in relatively broad valley-bottoms in Stone Canyon or Mandeville Canyon . . . [T]his is a landscape that seems to cry out for affluent suburban residences, and to flourish when so employed.” Ester McCoy suggested that the foothills were already prime geography for avant-garde architects; dating their popularity back the 1920s when the lots were labelled “unbuildable” and sold for a fraction of average prices.

The Pacific Palisades consist of mild microclimates. It sits on a warm dry climate, being warmest in August and rainiest in February.  
World Climates. “California Climates.” Accessed December 8, 2012.

The Weather Channel. “Monthly Averages for Pacific Palisades, CA.” Accessed December 8, 2012.

The varied topography consists of bluffs, mesas and canyons that run inland from shoreline cliffs such as the Santa Monica Canyon which divides the Pacific Palisades and Santa Monica. The house is located on the lower plateau on the Northern edge of Santa Monica canyon, directly overlooking the ocean to the south. UCLA geologist Dr. Richard F. Logan describes the canyon as:  The ever threatening cliff that overhangs  the Coast Highway at Chautauqua . . . is composed entirely of slightly consolidated  alluvium; the other three sides all involve marine shales, which become extremely heavy in wet years through absorption of rain water, and simultaneously become greasy, thus lubricating a potential massive earth movement. The major part of Pacific Palisades is free of all danger from slides, but the canyon borders and sea-cliff edge present some serious stabilization problems. 

The property is not visible from the street and is accessed through a private asphalt road from Chautauqua Boulevard. The road first leads to 201 Chautauqua which is Case Study House #9, the Entenza House, and then leading onto the property of the Eames. To the north, the drive is edged by a serpentine brick wall that is part of Richard Neutra’s landscape design for Case Study house #20, the Bailey House. The Southern drive is edged with wooden fencing and shaded by mature over hanging trees. The Eames House occupies an oddly shaped 1.4 acres. The land is mainly flat with a steep slope on the western tip which is parallel to house. To the east lies a creasy meadow. The immediate property is densely populated by greenery and interesting landscapes. To the far edge of the property lies an earthen mound. Metal fences are covered by grown shrubs which also screen of the neighbouring Entenza House. The western façade is shaded by eucalyptus trees.

Summarizes the Eames House in the context of domestic postwar housing including construction, location, and origins.

Google. “203 Chautauqua Blvd.” Accessed December 9, 2012.
Neuhart, John., and Neuhart, Marilyn., and Eames, Ray.  Eames Design: The Work of the Office of Charles and Ray Eames. Japan: A Times Mirror Company, 1994, 115
Land use (gardens, agricultural uses):

The Eames house is surrounded by forest and is lined on the long side of the house by eucalyptus trees. The trees create privacy which expands over time. Between the study and the home is a courtyard and garden. A patio is also located on the far end of the house.

Neuhart, John., and Neuhart, Marilyn., and Eames, Ray.  Eames Design: The Work of the Office of Charles and Ray Eames. Japan: A Times Mirror Company, 1994, 115..

Surrounding built environment:

As seen in the infrastructure map, the Eames house is surrounded by large expensive homes and below the cliff is a beach. Off from the Eames house and the beach is a small shopping zone.

How the house has transformed over time:

The Eames house hasn't changed in the years from construction. Charles and Ray maintained the house until they both passed. From there the home was overseen by the family until Charles' daughter founded the Eames foundation, which is who has preserved the home since 2004.

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