Page C1.1 . 24 April 2002                     
ArchitectureWeek - Culture Department
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Case Study: The Eames House

by Eames Demetrios

In the mid-1940s, as the United States faced the postwar challenge of housing three million returning soldiers, a few architects in Southern California rejected the idea of identical houses in suburban developments. The "Case Study House Program" initiated in 1945 by Arts and Architecture magazine, enlisted the talents of eight architects including Richard Neutra and Eero Saarinen.

The program called for the design of eight houses that would demonstrate modern alternatives to tract housing. Here is the story of the house designed by and for Charles and Ray Eames, as told by their grandson. — Editor

The Case Study House Program embraced, first of all, a belief that the modernist ideals could be part of the postwar home. Second, there was a sense that all the new technologies and materials of the war effort could be used to do something besides harm people.

Third, and most important, was the name itself: each house would be a "case study" of the needs of a particular client. It would solve the problems of the client, but in as universal a way as possible. Each client would be understood to represent a different type of homeowner, so instead of fetishizing the client's needs, architects participating in the program would try to achieve the broadest possible solution.   >>>

 
This article is excerpted with permission from An Eames Primer by Eames Demetrios, copyright 2001, published by Universe Publishing.

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The living room of Case Study House #8, designed by and for Charles and Ray Eames in the 1940s.
Photo: 2001 Lucia Eames, dba Eames Office, courtesy of the Library of Congress

ArchWeek Image

Self portrait of Charles Eames on the ladder in the studio.
Photo: 2001 Lucia Eames, dba Eames Office, courtesy of the Library of Congress

 

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