Schindler’s McAlmon Guest House, part 1 of 3 – Introduction

Why do I like Schindler?

The McAlmon House was built in 1935 in Los Angeles. It is one of Schindler’s better known houses. He moved an existing bungalow down the hill to the front of the lot. He added a living room and garages to it and wrapped it up in his sculptural forms. This became the guest house. The new main house, designed in the same vocabulary of forms, was put towards the back of the lot-at the top of the hill with wonderful views to the northeast.

The guest house acts as an entry monument for the main house. Julius Schulman‘s iconic photo is mostly of the guest house, with the main house peeking out at the side. Most of the interior photographs and plans available show only the main house. The guest house, so visible in the photograph, remained a mystery to me. Recently I came across a second Schulman photo and photographs of the guest house interior. Armed with this information, I made a 3D model.

In making the model, I realized that the guest house makes a wonderful case study. Schindler’s contribution is just one rectangular room. This allowed me to focus on the complicated forms of the building. There isn’t much function here to shape the form-its building as sculpture.This first article introduces the guest house. I will analyze the design in following articles, trying to figure out what Schindler is doing.Click on Schindler under Related Projects for further articles.Top: Entry (left) side, photograph by Julius Schulman from 1935*

Two: Same with notes  and color added
Three: 3D model from same angle
Four: model with floor plan below
Five: plan
Six: front
Seven: Schulman photo of the right side, now hidden behind trees*
Eight: photo of guest house living room*
Nine: Exploded view, living room volume in purple

Ten: Animation, exterior as you walk down the street from west to east
Eleven: Animation, interior starting inside front door and moving into living room

**Schulman and living room photos kindly provided by Larry Schaffer. Larry has a very interesting blog on design and modernism.


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