Vanishing Act. The New Yorker, Sept. 27, 2021.
As the pandemic wore on, I was casting around for a project to pursue in and around Los Angeles. My ever-brilliant editor, Daniel Zalewski, nudged me in the direction of the architect Richard Neutra, whose story I had been exploring as I delved into the German-speaking émigré world in Los Angeles. The project ended up becoming a full-time obsession, as I looked at around three hundred buildings from the outside and toured around fifty of them— not only the work of Neutra but also that of Rudolph Schindler, Frank Lloyd Wright, Irving Gill, J. R. Davidson, Gregory Ain, Raphael Soriano, Harwell Hamilton Harris, and various others. Although I could make use of only a fraction of what I saw, the entire adventure proved richly rewarding — a deeper education in this vast, mysterious metropolis. Deep thanks to Daniel, copy-editor Andrew Boynton, and fact-checkers Anna Boots and Alex Brady.
I’m very grateful to the following for their hospitality: Thom Andersen, Clara Balzary, Noah Baylin, John Bertram, John Brice, Ann Brown, David Coffey, Alberto Chehebar, Ruth Eliel and Bill Cooney, Susie Akai Fukuhara, Jocelyn Gibbs, Tom Hines (a generous architectural tutor throughout the process), Elsa Hosk and Tom Daly, Catherine Jurca, the Leddy clan (Patricia Leddy, Claire Leddy, Michael Hackett, Richard Leddy), Dominic Mondavi, Laura Kuhns Moody and Scott Moody, David Netto, the great Susan Orlean, Noel Osheroff, Andrew Romano, Sharon Salinger, Larry Schaffer and Magdalena Sikorska, Susan Sorrells, Elizabeth Timme and Hank Harris, Spencer Velazquez, and, above all, the magnificent Thelma Lager Huebsch and her children Hilary Cohen and Mark Huebsch. Much thanks also to Dana Balkin, Barbara Bestor, Gerard Bisignano (for showing me the Kaufmann House), Abbey Brach and Kevin Jew (for giving me a tour of Hollyhock House and Residence A), Elissa Brown (for letting me see her documentary about the Windshield House), Paddy Calistro at Angel City Press, Michele Ciaccio and Emily Park at the Getty Institute, Darrel Cowan, Todd Cronan, Bill Deverell, Crosby Doe, the staff of UCLA Special Collections (Simon Elliott, Courtney Jacobs, Molly Haigh, Neil Hodge), Valentina Ganeva (whose Schindler documentary will be worth seeing), Frank Gehry, Paul Goldberger, Josh Gorrell (the chief Health House authority), Jia Yi Gu at the MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Chris Hawthorne, Michael Holland at the LA City Archives, Mary Jo Holmes, Gabriel Kahane (composer of the best Neutra song), Barbara Lamprecht, PJ Letofsky (for letting me see his Neutra documentary), Raymond Neutra, Becky Nicolaides, Eric Nusbaum, Oscar A. Ramirez, Noam Saragosti at the Neutra VDL House, Andrea Schwan on behalf of Hauser & Wirth, and Ryan Soniat.