From outside and within, the Lovell Health House positively glows. One of the most iconic modernist residences of Los Angeles, the structure is recognizable by its optic white facade reflecting the sunlight and walls of windows overlooking the surrounding hills. Perched atop a steep hillside in Los Feliz, the nearly 5,000-square-foot residence was built by Richard Neutra between 1927 and 1929 for Dr. Philip Lovell, a naturopath and Los Angeles Times health columnist of the time who espoused the curative powers of nude ‘sun baths’ among other progressive, if zany perspectives.
Neutra’s design was sprung from the desire to integrate indoor and outdoor living. “There man may get in touch with the cosmic forces of nature far better than in closed rooms and confined spaces,” Lovell wrote in his LA Times “Care of the Body” column dating from 1924.
A profile of Dr. Lovell for KCET characterizes the particular moment in time: “There was a strong sense that new ways of living demanded new architecture — and that new architecture would in turn mold a new, improved humanity.”
Nearly 100 years old and yet still stridently modern, the house forgoes color for cream tones and curves for clean lines, giving the shadows cast by the enveloping landscape a clean canvas upon which to play. Surfaces awash in the yellow-pink glow of late afternoon light in Los Angeles reveal the passage of time in a manner akin to metals acquiring a beautiful patina with age. The Lovell House is hardly perfect or pristine, adding to the inherent aura of this place and its unique history.
Here at the Lovell Health House, Highland’s ode to California and the magnetism of imperfection finds a fitting home.