The Case Study House #9, was part of John Entenza’s Case Study House Program launched through his magazine Arts and Architecture in 1945.
This house was designed by Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen for Entenza himself and is considered the twin of the Charles Eames Case Study House 8, even if they fulfill totally different needs. They have similar structures and used the same materials and building techniques but they are conceptually different: Entenza’s is vertical while the Eames house is horizontal. A contemporary magazine defined them as “technological twins but architectural opposites”.
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During the four years after its publication in 1945 and before its completion, the design of the Case Study House 9 changed very little. When finally ready in 1949, it became the first house of the program to have a steel and glass structure with concealed-within plaster and wood-paneled surfaces interiors.
The Case Study House. 9 is built on over an acre of meadow that overlooks the Pacific sea. Eames and Saarinen wanted to interrelate the house with its environment and so they designed it to make the landscape as an extension of the inner space.
The goal was to achieve a spacious inside within a fairly minimal structure. To do so, they placed four steel columns at the center allowing cross bracing and continuity. Also, a floor-to-ceiling sliding-glass door connects the interiors with the surrounding meadow and the ocean beyond.
Even though the building phase suffered of several problems and delays, the result was coherent to its original idea of creating a beautiful living environment. The result was a house with a living room featuring a built-in seating and conversational area to entertain friends and organising dinners: the main Entenza request.
The interior open-plan layout features a 36-foot-long living room with a decoratively painted freestanding fireplace, a dining room, two bedrooms, two baths and the kitchen. The office is probably the only really private space of the house with no windows to avoid distractions from the outside.
Even though the design process was coherent and clear, always following a clear purpose, Entenza was not stunningly surprised by the result as it sometimes happens when someone has too high expectations.
Entenza lived and worked in the Case Study House #9 for five years before selling it. Since then, it has gone through many changes to its original interior design to please the several owners. Do you live in a mid-century or modernist-inspired contemporary house and want to be featured on MidCenturyHome? Contact us: [email protected]
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Above photo: Case Study House #9. Photo: Julius Shulman / Getty Archives
Sponsored by Arts & Architecture magazine the Case Study Houses were experiments in residential architecture initiated as a response to the growing need for housing in post-World War II America. At the end of the war millions of soldiers were returning home and the need to address the increased demand in housing prompted many organizations and corporations to come up possible solutions to the housing problem. John Entenza, editor of Arts & Architecture magazine commissioned major architects of the day, including Richard Neutra, A. Quincy Jones, Craig Ellwood, Charles and Ray Eames, Pierre Koenig, and Eero Saarinen to design and build inexpensive and efficient model homes.
The program announcement stated that, “Each house must be capable of duplication and in no sense be an individual ‘performance’… It is important that the best material available be used in the best possible way in order to arrive at a ‘good’ solution of each problem, which in the overall program will be general enough to be of practical assistance to the average American in search of a home in which he can afford to live.”
John Entenza with his neighbors Charles and Ray Eames.
Steel frame construction of CSH #9. Photo: Taschen
The cover of the 1945 issue of Arts and Architecture magazine in which the Case Study House program was announced.
Early architectural illustration of CSH #9. Photo: Julius Shulman / Getty Archives
The Case Study Program ran from 1945 until 1966 with the first six houses being built by 1948. These first houses attracted more than 350,000 visitors and captured the public’s imagination by introducing new ideas about how they might live in the future. Of the 36 Case Study House designs 26 were built, mostly in California with one in Arizona. As the program progressed it veered away from its original intent of designing low cost, mass housing concepts to more academic exercises in architectural process and experimentation. The last Case Study House to be built was #28, located in Thousand Oaks, California and was designed by Buff and Hensman in 1966.
Putting his money where his mouth was Arts & Architecture’s editor John Entenza commissioned Eero Saarinen and Charles Eames to design a Case Study home for him. To be located next door to the home of Charles and Ray Eames (Case Study House #8) in Pacific Palisades, California, the Entenza House would become Case Study House #9. Bearing many similarities to Eames’ previous work with his own house, CSH #9 utilized many of the same materials and building approach. One of the first to use steel framing the design of CSH #9 is essentially a steel-framed glass box with massive floor to ceiling windows. John Entenza – who claimed to have no concerns over privacy – was a man who also liked to entertain and insisted upon a flexible, open plan that offered seamless indoor to outdoor zones.
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Completed in 1950 Case Study House #9 is often overshadowed by the fame of its neighbor #8 and the famous couple that lived there. It’s not a star like the Stahl House, #22 and not as lauded for its design ‘purity’ like the Baily House, #21B but it is, perhaps, the closest the Case Study experiment came to realizing its initial goal of building livable, well-designed and – most importantly – accessible homes to the average consumer.
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Recent photo of CSH #9. Photo: Taschen
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