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THE ORGANIC VIEW OF DESIGN
Interviewed by Judy Stonefield
Completed under the auspices
Oral History Program
University of California
Copyright ^ 1985
The Regents of the University of California
The copyright law of the United States (Title 17,
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violation of copyright law.
RESTRICTIONS ON THIS INTERVIEW
LITERARY RIGHTS AND QUOTATION
This manuscript is hereby made available for research
purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript,
including the right to publication, are reserved to
the University Library of the University of California,
Los Angeles. No part of the manuscript may be quoted
for publication without the written permission of the
University Librarian of the University of California,
Biographical Summary vii
Interview History xiii
TAPE NUMBER: I, Side One (August 15, 1979) 1
Genealogy of Harris's ancestors--Harr is ' s
parents settle in Redlands, California —
Memories of his father--More on the Harris
TAPE NUMBER: I, Side Two (August 15, 1979) 22
High school in San Bernardino — Impact of VJorld
VJar I on rural California — Attends Pomona
College and Otis Art Institute — First exposure
to the work of Frank Lloyd V7r ight--More on
studies at Pomona College and Otis Art
Institute — Developing interest in art.
TAPE NUMBER: II, Side One (August 15, 1979) 41
Interest in painting and sculpture — Joins the
Los Angeles Art Students League--Discovers
Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House.
[Second Part] (August 22, 1979) 52
Meets R. M. Schindler and Richard Neutra —
Decides against returning to college--Stud ies
and works with Richard Neutra — Work in
connection with the CongrSs Internat ionaux
d 'Architecture Moderne (CIAM).
TAPE NUMBER: II, Side Two (August 22, 1979) 62
Work on designs for Neutra 's Rush City
Reformed — Work on the Lehigh Portland Cement
airport competition — Comparing the work of
Schindler and Neutra — The influence of
California's geography and climate on Harris's
TAPE NUMBER: III, Side One (August 22, 1979) 82
The lure of California for early settlers — The
particular character of California living — On
Louis Sullivan--The influence of Frank Lloyd
Wright on Harri3--Remerabering Frank Lloyd
TAPE NUMBER: III, Side Two (August 23, 1979) 104
Assessing Wright's later work — Working with
Gregory Ain--Mixing the influences of Wright
and Neutra — On Irving Gill — Breaking away from
Neutra and establishing his own practice —
Harris's first house: the Lowe House--
Collaboration with Carl Anderson — The impact of
the Depression on the progress of Harris's
TAPE NUMBER: IV, Side One (August 23, 1979) 123
The Laing House — The General Electric
competition: the theft of Harris's designs--
Subsequent publicity and support given to
Harris by California Arts and Architecture — The
role of architectural journals in promoting
California architects — Designs a house for John
Entenza — The utility core.
TAPE NUMBER: IV, Side Two (August 23, 1979) 144
More on the utility core: its influence on
hous ing--Jean Harris, her background and
various interests — Jean Harris's efforts to
secure recognition for the work of Greene and
Greene — Jean Harris's interest in work of
Bernard Maybeck — The influence of Greene and
Greene on Harris's designs--Schindler ' s Kings
Road House--Schindler ' s interpretation of
TAPE NUMBER: V, Side One (August 23, 1979) 165
The direction of architecture in California
before and after World War II--The postwar
housing boom in Calif ornia--Neutra ' s finger
plan school — Shifts in Neutra's design and work
patterns--Harris ' s technical education--
Encounters with immigrant architects: Sigfried
Giedeon and Jose Sert — Work with the CIAM on
postwar relief and planning.
TAPE NUMBER: V, Side Two (August 23, 1979) 187
The limited influence of the International
Style on Harris's work — On working with a
client--The organic view of design--On the
Utopian impulse in modern architecture.
Harwell Harris, shown with a section of terra
cotta coping from a partition in the Louis
Sullivan National Farmers Bank Building in
Owatonna, Minnesota, 1962 i
Fellowship Park House, Los Angeles, California,
193 5 XV
Havens House, Berkeley, California, 1941 122
Born: July 2, 1903, in Redlands, California.
Education : Public schools in Redlands, El Centro, and
San Bernardino, California; Pomona College, Otis Art
Institute, Frank Wiggins Trade School.
Spouse ; Jean Murray Bangs.
MAJOR PROJECTS :
1934 Lowe House, 596 East Punahou , Altadena, California
1935 Fellowship Park House (Harwell Hamilton Harris
House), 2311 Fellowship Park Way, Los Angeles,
Cal if ornia
Laing House, 1642 Pleasant Way, Pasadena, California
1936 De Steiguer House, Glen Sumner Road, Pasadena,
1937 Entenza House, 475 North Mesa Road, Santa Monica,
Kershner House, Brilliant Way, Los Angeles,
1938 Bauer House, 2538 East Glenoaks, Glendale, California
Blair House, 3762 Fredonia Drive, Los Angeles,
Clark House, Valley View and Seventeenth Street,
Granstedt House, Woodrow Wilson Drive, Hollywood,
1939 Hawk House, 2421 Silver Ridge, Los Angeles,
Harris House, 410 North Avenue Sixty-four, Pasadena,
Pumphrey House, 615 Kingman Avenue, Santa Monica,
Power House, 5150 La Canada Boulevard, La Canada,
1940 Comstock House, Del Mar, California
Grandview Gardens Restaurant, Los Angeles, California
McHenry House, 6 24 South Holraby Avenue, Los Angeles,
Sox House, Ridgeview Drive, Menlo Park, California
1941 Havens House, 255 Panoramic VJay, Berkeley, California
tJaylor House, 40 Arden Road, Berkeley, California
Snyder House, 10879 Whipple Street, North Hollywood,
Cal if ornia
Treanor House, 343 Greenacres Drive, Visalia,
1942 Birtcher House, Sea View Drive, Los Angeles,
Lek House, 1600 Mecca Drive, La Jolla, California
Meier House, 2240 Lakeshore, Los Angeles, California
1945 Fellowship Park Studio, Los Angeles, California
1946 Calvin House, Sitka, Alaska
Sobieski House, 1420 San Marino Boulevard, San
Treanor Equipment Company, Delano, California
1947 Ingersol Demonstration House, Kalamazoo, Michigan
1948 Cruze Studio-House, 2340 West Third Street, Los
Johnson House, 10280 Chrysanthemum, Los Angeles,
Wylie House, 1964 Rancho Drive, Ojai, California
1949 Loeb House, Redding, Connecticut
Mulvihill House, 580 North Hermosa, Sierra Madre,
1950 Chadwick School, Palos Verdes peninsula, California
English House, 1260 Lago Vista Drive, Beverly Hills,
Havens Apartments, Milvia and Blake, Berkeley,
Ray House, Burma Road, Fallbrook, California
1951 Elliott House, 10443 Woodbridge, North Hollywood,
Hardy House, Portuguese Bend Club, Rancho Palos
1952 Cranfill House, 1901 Cliff Drive, Austin, Texas (with
Harwell Hamilton Harris House, Fallbrook, California
Lang House, 700 Alta Street, San Antonio, Texas
1953 Duhring House, Greenwood Common, Berkeley, California
(with Hervey Parke Clark)
House Beautiful Pace-Setter House, Dallas, Texas
National Orange Show Exhibition Building, San
Bernardino, California (with Jerome Armstrong)
1954 Barrow House, 4101 Edgemont, Austin, Texas
1956 Antrim House, 6160 North Van Ness, Fresno, California
Johnson House, 1200 Broad, Fort Worth, Texas
Motel-on-the-Mountain, Suffern, New York
St. Mary's Episcopal Church, Big Spring, Texas
Townsend House, 230 Simpson, Paris, Texas
1957 Kirkpatrick House, 457 Harbor Road, Southport,
1958 Cranfill Apartments, 1911 Cliff Drive, Austin, Texas
Eisenberg House, 9624 Rockbrook, Dallas
National Farmers Bank Building remodeling (a Louis
Sullivan building), Owatonna, Minnesota (with A.
Moorman and Company)
1959 Greenwood Mausoleum, Fort Worth, Texas
Treanor House, 2617 Oldham Road, Abilene, Texas
Talbot House, 1508 Dayton Road, Big Spring, Texas
Woodall House, 808 West Fourteenth Street, Big
1960 Trade Mart Court, Dallas, Texas
Havens Memorial Plaza, Berkeley, California
1961 Wright House, 3504 Lexington, Dallas, Texas
1963 First Unitarian Church, Dallas, Texas (with Beran and
Paschal House, 1527 Pinecrest, Durham, North Carolina
1964 Lindahl House, 305 Clayton Road, Chapel Hill, North
Security Motor Bank, Owatonna, Minnesota (with Hickey
1965 North Country School Cottages, Lake Placid, New York
Pugh House, Kerr Lake, Virginia
Sweetzer House, Laurel Park, Hendersonville , North
1966 Van Alstyne House, 1702 Woodburn, Durham, North
1967 Sugioka House, 1 Bayberry Drive, Chapel Hill, North
1968/77 Harwell Hamilton Harris Studio and House, 122 Cox
Avenue, Raleigh, North Carolina
1969 Bryant House, Lake Dam Road, Raleigh, North Carolina
St. Giles Presbyterian Church, Raleigh, North
1970 Bennett House, Jones Ferry Road, Chapel Hill, North
1978 Cullowhee Presbyterian Church, Cullowhee, North
PROFESSIONAL AND ACADEMIC AFFILIATIONS:
Private practice in Los Angeles, 1933-51; Austin, Texas,
1955-56; Fort Worth, Texas, 1956-58; Dallas, Texas, 1958-
62; Raleigh, North Carolina, since 1962.
Member of CIAM (CongrSs Internationaux d ' Architecture
Moderne), from 1929; secretary, American Chapter, 1930-
32; secretary. Relief and Postwar Planning Chapter, 1944-
Lecturer, Chouinard Art Institute, Los Angeles, 1938-39,
Lecturer, University of Southern California, 1940, 1941,
Lecturer, Art Center School, Los Angeles, 1941-45.
Lecturer, Columbia University, 1943-44.
Professor and Director, School of Architecture,
University of Texas at Austin, 1951-55.
Adjunct Professor, Columbia University, 1960-62.
Professor of Architecture, School of Design, North
Carolina State University, Raleigh, 1962-73.
"Harwell Hamilton Harris: A collection of his Writings
and Buildings" in Student Publication, (School of Design,
North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North
Carolina), Number 5, 1965.
First Prize, Class 1-A, Pittsburgh Glass Institute
Competition, 1937, 1938.
Honor Award, American Institute o£ Architects, Southern
California Chapter, 1938.
Honor Award and Merit Award, Texas Society of Architects,
Fellow, American Institute of Architects, 1965.
Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1939, 1942, 1943, 1945,
San Francisco Museum of Art, 1940, 1942.
American Federation of Arts, New York, 1947.
Triennale, Milan, 1957.
National Gallery, Washington, D.C., 1957; toured Europe,
Asia, and the United States.
International Fair, Moscow, 1959.
Olympiad, Munich, 1972.
Two Hundred Years of American Architectural Drawing,
Cooper-Hewitt Museum, New York, 1977; toured Chicago,
Fort Worth, and Jacksonville, Florida, 1978.
Judy Stonefield, B.A., Education, UCLA.
TIME AMD SETTING OF INTERVIEW:
Place: Harris's studio/home in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Dates : August 15, 22, and 23, 1979.
Time of day, length of sessions, and total number of
recording hours : Interview sessions were conducted in
mid-mornmg. They averaged between two and two and one-
half hours. A total of approximately seven hours of
conversation was recorded.
Persons present during the interview : Harris and
Stonef ield .
CONDUCT OF THE INTERVIEW:
Stonefield prepared for the interview by viewing several
of Harris's houses, reading articles written by Harris,
and viewing videotapes in which Harris discusses his
architecture and philosophy.
The interview follows a chronological format, tracing
Harris's life and career up to his move from Los Angeles
in the late forties.
Several areas of interest are discussed in detail. Aside
from basic biographical information, considerable
attention is given to the influence growing up in
California had on Harris's architectural concepts. There
is also some discussion of the architectural history of
Los Angeles up to World War II, followed by detailed
discussions and remembrances of Richard Neutra, Rudolf
Schindler and Frank Lloyd Wright. Other areas of
discussion which break up the chronological order concern
Harris's views on particular styles of architecture, on
architect/client relations, the use of materials, and the
effects of technology on architecture.
Teresa Barnett, editorial assistant, edited the
interview. The verbatim transcript was checked against
X 1 1 L
the original tape recordings and edited for punctuation,
paragraphing, spelling and verification of proper nouns.
Words and phrases inserted by the editor have been
bracketed. The final manuscript remains in the same order
as the taped material.
In September, 1984, the edited transcript, along with a
list of queries and names requiring identification, was
sent to Harris. He approved the transcript and returned
it in November of the same year.
The index, table of contents, interview history and
biographical summary were prepared by George Hodak,
The original tape recordings of the interview are in the
university archives and are available under the
regulations governing the use of permanent, noncurrent
records of the university. Interview records and research
materials are on file in the office of the Oral History
TAPE NUMBER: I, SIDE OUE
AUGUST 15, 1979
STONEFIELD: Mr. Harris, I would like to start more or less
at the beginning. '.vhen you were born and where.
HARRIS: I was born in 1903, July 2, in Redlands,
California, the son of two California natives.
STONEFIELD: And your family came before Redlands from
HARRIS: My father's father came in 1849 from Virginia by
way of Tennessee and Texas and was a part of an overland
tram that took what was called the Gila Trail. He arrived
in California in time to vote for the constitution of the
state that was up for adoption. He went to the mines.
VJhat was that grove near the southern entrance to
Yosenite? It's the name of a town anyway — Mariposa. [He]
spent about three months in the mines, then decided he
could make more money practicing law and gave up mining.
[He] returned to the East at the time of the Civil l\ar,
this time traveling by boat around the Horn instead of
across the plains, and worked his way from New York down to
Richmond. He was then commissioned to take a group of men
to Texas because he could speak Spanish. It was thought
the British were taking advantage of the Civil War to
injure the nation through [inaudible] the Confederacy. He
came through the v/ar all right and then returned to
California after the war was over and lived there all the
rest of his life.
3T0NEFIELD: He didn't fight in the war?
HARRIS: Oh, yes. I don't know how many he killed, but he
was probably not in the thick of it.
STONEFIELD: Did you ever know him?
HARRIS: tlo , he died about six years before I was born. He
was born in 1824, and I wasn't born until 1903.
STONEFIELD: He was very old then.
HARRIS: Well, he was in his early twenties of course in
1849 when he went to California.
STONEFIELD: He sounds as if he was quite an adventurer.
HARRIS: He was a very interesting person, and there is a
book. The Gila Trail, which was written from his notes and
his diary, now in the Huntington Library. [The Gila Trail,
The Texas Argonauts and The California Gold Rush, edited by
Richard H. Dillon, published by the University of Oklahoma
STONEFIELD: VJhat was his name?
HARRIS: Benjamin Butler Harris. He was interested in a
great variety of things. It was a time in the world when
it was possible for an educated person to knov; something
about everything, which seems impossible now, so that his
interests were very wide, and I'm sorry that I didn't know
STONEFIELD: Had he had any training in the law when he
decided to take it up?
HARRIS: Yes, yes, he did. One got into such things rather
early in those days. He had taught for a year on his way
west at some college in Tennessee [Springfield Acadeny].
And then when gold was discovered in California, and its
announcement came, he decided to go on. So he went on and
3oined a group in what is now Dallas. It was then called
Bryan, which was the name of the man who had the only house
there. It's an interesting story, the trip overland.
STONEFIELD: I have trouble keeping track of all of his
travels in my head. VJhen did he get married and settle
HARRIS: That was after the war. He was fairly old.
STONEFIELD: When he came to California?
HARRIS: No, no. After the Civil War, which would have
made it after 1865. My father [Franklin Thomas Harris] was
born in 1875, all the children were born in California.
STONEFIELD: Where was your father born?
HARRIS: He was born in San Bernardino, California.
STONEFIELD: Oh, so your grandfather finally decided to end
up in California?
HARRIS: After the war he came to the southern part of the
state instead of the Mariposa region where he had been
before. He wrote the first official descriotion of the
Yosemite Valley. He didn't enter it because it was too
dangerous. There was a tribe of Indians there that didn't
let anyone who entered ever return. It was written from
descriptions of various sorts. And another interesting
thing, he had a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, which
he won in 1852. It was on behalf of the Indians who had
been driven out of much of their territory by the influx of
foreign miners. They were very hard up. The first two
Indian agents in the country were appointed then, but the
money appropriated for cattle and the other things that
were to be provided the Indians went into the agents' own
pockets. So this was a suit to recover it. He won the
suit, but of course they didn't get anything, any more than
[General John] Fremont got damages after winning his suit
against those who ravished his country looking for gold.
STOtlEFIELD: He sounds like the sort of character that the
whole family mythology could have been developed upon.
What about your grandmother?
HARRIS: My mother's parents came from South Carolina.
STONEFIELD: No, what I was talking about was your
HARRIS: Oh, I don't know much about her. She was a native
of Missouri, and I can remember her quite well.
STONEFIELD: What did she look like?
HARRIS: I can remember particularly her long curls, which
[she] would brush and curl around a stick of bamboo. Her
maiden name was Clark, Bettie Clark. But I really know
nothing about her.
STONEFIELD: You don't know how they met or when or where?
HARRIS: IIo, I didn't pay attention. [laughter]
STONEFIELD: In those days it wasn't important.
HARRIS: The Gila Trail, the manuscript for it, is in the
Huntington Library. One of my father's sisters was rather
interested in these records. I unfortunately lost material
that was entrusted to me. One was a large telescoping
wallet. It was filled with various bits of interesting
things, including handwritten military orders, or notes
from a parent that he had received when he taught school
someplace, and two Pony Express letters. This and various
other things were unfortunately in a box of stuff that I
left with my mother. She was living in an apartment, and
during the two years we \^?ere away in New York she moved.
The box had been put in the apartment house garage, and
when we came back and I asked for it, she had forgotten
about it. It was gone and couldn't be found. This made my
aunt very angry naturally.
Well, ask me another.
STONEFIELD: Now, your mother's family. What about them?
HARRIS: My mother's father was a colonel in General
[James] Longstreet's Division of the Confederate Army in
the Civil War. He was a college student when the war
started. It was in Wofford College, Spartanburg, South
Carolina. He met my grandmother who was a student in a
female seminary in Spartanburg. He was in the fighting or
in prison the whole four years of the war. I can remember
because I knew my maternal grandmother perhaps better than
my paternal one. I can remember my grandfather's sv/ord,
the Confederate flags and the pictures of my grandfather as
a colonel in General Longstreet's division. So both sets
of grandparents were Southerners, and, because they were
naturalized Cal if ornians , they were more Southern [than if]
they had remained in the South.
My mother was born in Orange County. And she lived in
Los Angeles when she was a young girl on a ten-acre piece
of property. The house was between what are now ninth and
Tenth streets and Hope and Olive — it was then called Hope
and Charity [actually, Grand Avenue was formerly Charity;
Olive has retained its name]. I can remember her speaking
about the time when they were trying to get a population of
75,000 people in Los Angeles. So I'm very much Southern
STONEFIELD: Well, when your mother's family came in, they
were planning to farm, is that so?
HARRIS: Well, they did farm. I think, that's about all a
"Southern Gentleman" ever learned to do, probably didn't
learn that very well, I don't know.
STONEFIELD: V7hat drew them to those particular places, to
Redlands and to Orange County in particular?
HARRIS: I don't know. Redlands of course is near San
Bernardino, where my father opened his practice, then moved
quickly afterwards, to Redlands, which was rather new and
where there was a great deal of building for a small
place. I don't know why my maternal grandparents happened
to go to Los Angeles when they did.
STONEFIELD: At that time, the whole Southern California
area must have been composed of separate very small
communities. There must have been no focus the way that
there is now.
HARRIS: Ilo , there wasn't. A little bit later the Pacific
Electric lines tied together places as distant as Santa
Monica and San Bernardino.
STONEFIELD: And actually this must have been before the
HARRIS: There was an old — What was it called? It was
called the "dummy," I think. It was a small steam train
that ran, I guess, between Redlands, or it may have been
just San Bernardino, and Los Angeles. I can remember it,
and I can also remember it used to stop in Monrovia. There
was a horse-drawn car on rails one could see out of the
window that met the train.
STONEFIELD: I wonder how your parents net?
HARRIS: Well, ny father was working in an office in Los
Angeles. And according to his story, I don't know whether
it was true or not —
STONEFIELD: Was he living in Los Angeles at that time?
HARRIS: Yes, he was quite young. [I'm] trying to remember
the name of the firm, because at least the name still
persisted as that of an architectural firm when we lived
there after 1922. Anyway, according to his story, he saw a
photograph of my mother in a photographer's studio. My
mother was a teacher. She taught for six years and she
taught in what is now Watts. At that time it was made up
largely of Latin Americans. There was the Dominguez
family, which was the most important one, and she had
Dominguez children all through the six years she taught
there. She drove a horse and buggy to school. What has
tills got to do with architecture?
STONEFIELD: Well, it has to do with you. I've forgotten
to ask you about your parents. You know, their growing up,
what it was like, where they came from, and where they did
their growing up mostly. Was it in the places where their
family had settled?
HARRIS: Well, I can't tell you a great deal more than I
STONEFIELD: VJhen were they born?
HARRIS: My father in 1375, and my mother in 1876.
STONEFIELD: Where did they go to school? Did they talk a
lot about their childhood to you?
HARRIS: I don't remember any extended talk about it.
There v;ould be references occasionally. I probably was too
young to be particularly interested. Except there would be
occasional things that I would be quite interested in. As
an example, in driving up through the Ca]on pass, there was
a cave in the side of it, and my father remarked that my
grandfather and someone else, John Brown--not the famous
John Brown, another one — were holed up for three days in
there, barricaded against the Indians. So that none of
this seemed terribly long ago to me, and of course it
wasn't. If we go back to 1849, that would only be fifty-
four years before I was born. And I've lived more than
that since then.
STONEFIELD: After they married, where did they settle?
HARRIS: They settled in Redlands. Redlands was a very
interesting town then. It was a sort of a small
Pasadena. It was made up almost entirely of people who had
retired or who wintered there. The only business there was
orange growing, and so many of the orange groves were
surrounded by paved streets on four sides. It didn't take
a very big grove to be a very profitable thing in those
days. There were two brothers that were twins, the Smiley
twins, who probably did more to influence at least the
cultural life of Redlands than all others. The park was
named after them, the public library was named after them,
not Andrew Carnegie as it was in San Bernardino.
STONEFIELD: They paid for the library, didn't they?
VJeren't they responsible for building it?
HARRIS: Oh, these were gifts from the Smileys, yes. Then
there was Smiley Heights on the south edge of town. It was
a very beautiful ridge and divided the valley, in which
Redlands was, from Riverside County. And it stopped all of
the hot winds from Riverside County, most of which was
stony and very desertlike, attractive in that way. On this
side it was quite lush, and in the lower hills of Smiley
Heights [there were] very nice houses at the time.
STONEFIELD: What kind of houses were they mostly? Vvhat
was the architecture like?
HARRIS: Well, they belonged very much to that time. They
were not very reminiscent. There may have been a little
bit of California mission in there. There was no Spanish
at that time and there was no Georgian. Mostly they were
large. Mostly, as I recall them, they were shingled
houses, brown-shingled, quite large, large porches, and
STOIJEFIELD: They were mostly gentlemen farmers?
HARRIS: These were mostly retired people. They mostly
were members of families at least from Chicago or further
east. Some from the east coast and many from the Midwest,
just as Pasadena was. Just as in Pasadena where one could
go down Orange Grove Avenue and name off dozens of national
industries, whether it was Bissell carpet sweeper or
Wrigley chewing gum or whatever it was.
STONEFIELD: Proctor and Gamble.
HARRIS: Ivory soap. Gamble of Proctor and Gamble.
STONEFIELD: What was it like growing up in a community
HARRIS: Well, I had a switch. While I lived in Redlands,
I spent my first four years of grammar school in the old
Kingsbury building. I went to kindergarten in a school
that my father had designed, the [William] McKinley
school. Then there was a bad freeze in 1912. Freezes and
depressions and such things mark the history of our
profession. They always cause a change. Anyway, my father
had designed quite a number of buildings in the town of El
Centro which was quite nev/ . W. F. Holt was the developer
of that. There was another town called Holtville that he
had started earlier. Holt lived in Redlands. I can
remember a large watercolor perspective of Mr. Holt's house
in the office. There was a porte cochere and there was a
carriage with a pair of horses and a driver under the porte
cochere. It was what one expected in style, and what we
called riission, then. My father had been down in El Centro
on trips for the Holt work there. Then he designed the
high school in El Centro.
Then, with the freeze, suddenly everything seemed to
stop in Redlands, and he decided-- We usually had had one
ranch or another, we had several, but only one at a time, I
think, all during my life up to that point. My father was
always interested in a ranch, although we had never lived
on one, except sometimes in the summer. He was very
interested in the Imperial Valley, so he bought a quarter
section, a hundred and sixty acres, of which only twenty
acres had been leveled, the rest was still in sand hills.
And we moved down there. He established his office in the
town. El Centro, and we lived out on the ranch there. So I
had the years from ten to fourteen on a ranch, which was an
ideal time to have them. I'm very glad that I did.
I went to school in El Centro. I usually rode with my
father in the car in the morning and I waited for him in
the Carnegie Library until he went home in the evening.
That was between the end of school and that time. It was a
marvelous arrangement because the library had no children's
division at all. I wandered everywhere, I was my own
adviser in everything. And I discovered more things.
either because it was next to something else, or possibly
for other reasons.
So those four years there were very valuable. First
of all, what I learned on the ranch. To begin with, the
land had to be leveled, and so for maybe six months there
was a gang of teamsters with Fresno scrapers leveling the
land. It was a ]ob to do it because--
STONEFIELD: What is a Fresno scraper?
HARRIS: Well, it's a kind that's much more dramatic. It's
like the difference between riding in a buggy behind a
horse or riding on the back of the horse. These scrapers
were large. They had runners on them and they had a very
long handle with a rope trailing from the end of it. When
the scraper was empty, it tipped forward on its runners,
with the handle straight up in the air and the rope
dangling from it. You had a team of mules in front. The
teamster would grab the dangling rope when he got ready to
scoop up more sand. And he would pull the handle back and
down. He'd take hold of the handle and yell at the mules
who would hump their backs and pull to fill the scraper,
and then to drag it to the place they dumped it. It was a
constant movement back and forth, picking up sand here and
dumping it there, and, in between each way, the teamster
just trailing lazily along behind the scraper.
Well, anyway, there was a whole camp of them, men and
animals. They set up camp, did their own cooking out in
the sand hills there. I used to go out and spend time
watching them. I was ten at the time. In the beginning
they had a regular cook, but the regular cook left. So
someone else had to do the cooking. There was one they
called Shorty, and because he had a sore foot and he had
trouble walking, they let him do the cooking. He knew
nothing about it. [laughter] They were accustomed to
eating anything. Well, anyway, it was an interesting four
years down there.
STONEFIELD: What kind of ranching was it?
HARRIS: Well, it was first of all planting alfalfa and
planting corn, milo maize it was called, Indian corn, or
mostly that. First of all, the problem was to hold the
land. The winds, which were quite strong and constant,
would move the sand around. VJhere there was no sand hill
yesterday, there could be one today, pretty good sized one,
simply because of the wind and because there happened to be
something there, might have been a big tumbleweed or
something else that the sand would form around, form
behind. So one had to order water, which was delivered by
canals, at such times that, when a certain amount of
grading had been finished, one could get water on it to
hold it. Well, there was the problem of keeping the wind
from blowing the sand away, and there was the other problem
of keeping the birds from eating the seeds before it could
get covered, watered, and growing.
Alfalfa was planted in addition to the corn. Then in
the last year or two-- Oh, yes, we had hogs at one time,
registered Duroc Jersey hogs, and I used to ride over on a
sled to a neighboring dairy to pick up huge barrels of
skimmed milk there which we would take back on the sled for
the hogs. And what else did we do?
STOHEFIELD: Your father sounds as if he has a little of
your grandfather in him. What makes an architect take up
ranching? It sounds like such a complicated change.
HARRIS: Well, I don't know. I suppose he had simply
become rather attached to it as a young boy. When he was
quite young, I remember, he went up into-- What was the
name of that? Hollow something. There was later a dairy
there that used that name. It was out near Loma Linda.
Anyway, he planted a crop of something or other when he was
quite young. He was always interested in it.
We had an apple ranch up beyond Beaumont, quite a
large one. I can remember, when I was about six years old,
our occasional trips there, usually over a weekend or it
might be during the summer holidays, from Redlands up to
the ranch. We would get up at two-thirty in the morning so
that we could get started in the horse and buggy and arrive
before the sun was too hot. We would arrive by about
eleven o'clock if we started early. And I can remember
trying to pull on long stockings over long underwear and my
eyes so full of sleep I couldn't see what I was doing.
Anyway, we spent time up there and that was fun too.
Then, we had a ranch later out in Arizona, one that I never
visited. The one in Imperial Valley, near El Centro, is
the only one that we ever lived on. Anyway, this was
always a drain on what profits one managed to make from
architecture. They never made money.
STONEFIELD: On the ranching.
HARRIS: Yes. Never. It always cost.
STONEFIELD: What was your father like? What did he look
HARRIS: Well, he was maybe half an inch taller than I, he
was the smallest in his family. His features and mine were
very much alike. He grew bald sooner than I did.
STONEFIELD: When you think of him, what are your
HARRIS: Well, of course, I think of him as my father more
than anything else. I don't think of him particularly as
STONEFIELD: Why is that?
HARRIS: Well, I wasn't the least bit interested in
architecture during his life. I wasn't any more than I'd
be interested in anything else that went on under my nose
in the house and that I saw everyday and found nothing
unusual about it.
STONEFIELD: vJhat kind of a personality did he have?
HARRIS: Well —
STONEFIELD: That's hard to answer.
HARRIS: I've had plenty of time to think about it. Well,
he was not either an introverted or an extroverted person
in particular, I don't think. He was probably no more
aggressive than I am. He was very much liked by people.
STONEFIELD: Did he have a lot of friends?
HARRIS: Well, he had quite a number, but they were nearly
all persons that he came in contact with in ordinary
matters of daily-life living. He didn't travel to speak
of. He en3oyed hunting, which I don't care for, at least
now. I did a little bit when I was very young.
STONEFIELD: What kind of schooling did he have? Did he
study architecture formally?
HARRIS: No. Very few architects in those days had
architectural schooling. He had neither architectural
schooling nor schooling beyond the high school. His father
wasn't at all interested in his-- Even though his father
STONEFIELD: Practiced law and —
HARRIS: Practiced law, who had degrees and had taught in
STOMEFIELD: Why was that?
HARRIS: I don't think his father thought it was very
important. Probably didn't think — You didn't get much out
STONEFIELD: Having tried it, he decided it wasn't worth
HARRIS: You could learn on your own. I don't know whether
that's what affected me. You see, I never went beyond the
second year of college. Then I stayed out a year, I was
sick, and went to Otis Art Institute to fill in my time;
became interested in sculpture; stayed on a year longer;
then discovered Frank Lloyd Wright, which was my discovery
that architecture could be interesting; then had the
transcript to my record at Pomona College sent up to
Berkeley; was ready to enter in the fall, when I met
[Richard J.] Neutra. And Neutra persuaded me that I would
learn more working for him and taking technical courses at
night, which I proceeded to do. And I think I did learn
more. And I think it was faster in every way, except the
matter of getting a license to practice, which, of course,
is much more difficult when you don't have a degree.
STONEFIELD: So actually, you agree with your father's--?
HARRIS: I'm inclined to. I think probably anyone is apt
to think that whatever he did was the best, regardless of
what it happens to be.
STONEFIELD: But how did he get into architecture then? I
mean what led him in that direction?
HARRIS: I don't know what first interested him in it. I
think he probably became interested in building. I don't
know what he may have done that led him to architecture. I
can remember some letter, I don't remember whether it was
from him to his father or his father to him, while he was
in this office in Los Angeles learning the rudiments of
architecture. Then he returned to San Bernardino and very
quickly married and moved to Redlands.
STONEFIELD: What was your mother like? What did she look
HARRIS: Well, she was the smallest in her family. Both
were not large families for the time, but larger than most
are now. My mother had three sisters and two brothers, so
there were six in the family. In my father's family there
were three brothers and three sisters, one brother died
when he was very young.
STONEFIELD: Did they all live in Southern California
during this period?
HARRIS: Most of the time, yes. My mother's oldest brother
when he was still quite young went to Bellingham,
Washington. He became the owner of a very large department
store there and lived there until he retired and came back
to Los Angeles. And, let's see, the other brother lived in
Los Angeles. I can't remember what he did.
STONEFIELD: Was the family close?
HARRIS: Not particularly, no. Occasionally there would be
something, a dinner reunion or something, when they would
be together, but not very much. More, T guess, in the case
of my mother's family than my father's. It was pretty much
a hit-and-miss affair as far as my father was concerned.
My grandfather was rather interested in the family and had
traced the tree from the first William Harris who —
STONEFIELD: This was your father's father.
HARRIS: Yes, who arrived in Jamestown between 1680 and
1685. He enjoyed telling that he [the first William
Harris] was traded for a pumpkin. He was Welsh and, like
others who were kidnapped and brought over as labor, he was
kidnapped. Because he was ]ust a small boy, he wasn't
worth very much. I don't know how they happened to pick
him up, but anyway they did. So the captain, according to
my grandfather's story sold him to a farmer for a
pumpkin. Anyway, he lived with a family, there were two
families, Templeton and Overton. And those two names keep
STONEFIELD: Where was this?
HARRIS: This was in Virginia. These keep recurring
throughout the life of the family ever since then. Two of
ny father's brothers, one was named Templeton, the other
was named Overton.
STONEFIELD: He was an indentured servant then or — ?
HARRIS: Yes. But it didn't amount to anything, I think,
for a pumpkin.
STOtJEFIELD: He must have good feelings about them to name
children after them.
HARRIS: Yes. He married an Overton daughter.
TAPE NUMBER: I, SIDE TVJO
AUGUST 15, 1979
STONEFIELD: What about the period after you were
fourteen? You sort of brought me up to the time that you
were on the ranch.
HARRIS: Well, when the United States entered World War I
in March 17, 1917, my father decided to sell the ranch. We
returned, not to the Redlands but to San Bernardino, and he
opened an office there. I spent four years of high school
in San Bernardino.
STONEFIELD: What was that like? What was the school like
that you went to?
HARRIS: Well, there was only one high school in town. I
believe the population of San Bernardino at the time was
somewhere around 30,000; it wasn't terribly large. There
were maybe 750 in the high school, ]ust under a thousand.
And I had some very good teachers there. There's one in
particular that I have talked about. I don't know whether
I spoke about him in any of that material I sent you or
STONEFIELD: I don't think so.
HARRIS: He was a history teacher. He had retired as a
university professor, I think it was from Clark
University. That was the university that the psychologist
G. Stanley Hall was the first head of. He brought men
like — iJow my memory is going bad on me.
STONEFIELD: I'm putting you on the spot.
HARRIS: The first and most famous psychoanalyst.
STONEFIELD: Hot Freud?
HARRIS: Yes, Freud, and Adler, and Jung. I've seen a
picture of them all at one time at Clark. He did a great
deal that no other university had done. It always remained
small. Anyway, the only thing that affects me is that this
man, Professor [Gideon] Knopp, the history professor, had
retired and he had come to California to spend his
remaining days cultivating a garden. The garden was an
orange grove out in Mentone. That's east of Redlands, yes,
toward Yucaipa. Whenever I can think of something, I'm so
pleased to remember it I can't help saying it, whether it's
really important to the story or not. Well, anyway, Knopp
very quickly got tired of cultivating his garden, and he
left his wife to do that and moved into San Bernardino
where he took a job in the high school there. He lived
during the week at the YMCA and taught history.
The important thing is that history, as he saw it,
took in every kind of thing that man had ever done or
thought. So the range of things that were talked about was
enormous, and he talked about them in a more interesting
way than any teacher I've ever had. He was better than any
college teacher I ever had by far. He dropped hints,
suggestions, all through his lectures. They were done very
carefully, and afterwards I would rush off to the library
to look up something that he had talked about that sounded
terribly interesting. I never read ny textbook. I was
always reporting on what I had discovered in sone other
book in the library. And this ran through a great variety
of things. It was a most carefully prepared lecture,
too. His forty-five minute high school periods were marked
by lectures, but they didn't seem like lectures at all. I
felt always as though I was accompanying an explorer some
place, and as he discovered something I was right there to
discover it too. Then as he came to the end of the period,
he began going over what we had discovered in this, and so
he summed it up in a very effective way.
STOUEFIELD: He was teaching you how to discover knowledge
HARRIS: Yes, this was the important thing. Then another
thing I remember, I had him in U.S. history and I didn't
have him either for English history or medieval-modern
history. I had him in, what was there, sone other course
that they managed to work in. We got off, though, into all
sorts of discussions that ordinarily we would have found in
courses in economics and sociology. The material each
week, at least in one of these courses, was put in a
paper. Writing these papers was the best exercise in
writing I've ever had because I wanted so terribly to make
clear what I was saying. And so I am rather disposed to
favor the writing of papers, at least when they are on
subjects that are important and are not just composition
STONEFIELD: They involve some kind of creative research.
HARRIS: Yes. You're just trying your hardest and you're
thinking about the effect you are making on the mind of the
person who will read it, and whether you're making it clear
or not. So I really got more, I think, out of English
composition in Professor Knopp's class than I got out of
composition in the English classes. Although I had a very
good English teacher too. Anyway, this was the most
important part of my high school, I think, and can really
be summed up in that experience, particularly Professor
Knopp. I had a chum, Ryland Thomason, who was a year older
than I, but he had stayed out of school a year, and so when
I became a sophomore he was a sophomore. We went through
school together, many of the classes together, and we
played tricks together on some of our teachers.
STONEFIELD: What kind of tricks? I'm afraid to ask.
HARRIS: Well, I can remember a plane geometry teacher. I
feel awfully sorry for her now. We called her "Pinky." She
dyed her hair. And in class one of as would proceed to
demonstrate that the theorem could be proved by another
method than the one in our Wentworth text. And we'd go
through the demonstration, and we'd get her to agree, "Yes,
it can be proved that way." Then one of us would
immediately jump up and prove that it was all wrong, which
made her wrong too. This was really tough. Then we were
both on the debating team together, and I remember we had a
coach that was constantly being confused by us. But we
stimulated one another in various ways, not only in the
things that we learned together, but also in certain other
things. Anyway, these are the two features of ny high
school years that I remember. Professor Knopp and Ryland
STOMEFIELD: Were there other friends — ?
HARRIS: Yes, but they weren't nearly as important.
STONEFIELD: What was it like being an adolescent in those
HARRIS: Well, we never thought about it. We knew the
meaning of the word, but —
3T0NEFIELD: You weren't separated from the rest of the
community the way that we now do?
HARRIS: No. Matter of identity, that was something that
was a preposterous question. We knew who we were,
STONEFIELD: Things were more certain in those days.
Wasn't it considered a transition period, the way that it
is now? On your way to something else? Not quite one
thing or the other?
HARRIS: Well, the world and the country had been through
transitions that were so much more striking and upsetting
than anything personal could be. See, this was World War
I. I entered high school about five months after we
entered World War I, and, although we were slow in getting
in, we armed ourselves and got into the thick of it, very,
very quickly. We had military training. It's true that we
had no guns or uniforms. 'We drilled in gym suits with
wooden wands the first year. The second year we had guns
and uniforms, but then the war ended in only a few months.
STONEFIELD: Did you feel as if everyone was personally
involved in the war, was that the way it was?
HARRIS: Oh yes, there was no way of escaping that. There
were all sorts of drives. Whenever I see this old James
Montgomery Flagg poster, "I want you," I always remember it
in World War I when it was first used.
STONEFIELD: Did you know people who were actually in the
HARRIS: Yes, yes. One was very much aware of that. I had
no relatives who were actually in the conflict. I
remember, very shortly after the war was over, a hospital
train came through town with wounded on it. And someone, I
remember it was a fellow student, persuaded me to go down
along with others and walk through the train. It's a thing
I never would have thought of doing and I don't know why I
was persuaded to do it. But I did, and I came across a
former student that I had known down in Imperial Valley in
grammar school. He'd got in combat. He was terribly
young, even though he was a bit old when in grammar school,
and he was wounded. Also, I can remember right after the
war was over when the train came through with Marshall Foch
on it, and I can remember going down to the station to hear
him address us in French. I can remember many visitors
that we had come to arouse enthusiasm for the war. Some
were French and some were British. I can remember a young
Britisher. V>Je didn't have as many English people around as
one would now, so that if it was a British accent or any
other mannerism it would be much more striking to us. And
I can remember the high school assemblies for various
reasons, but many of them concerned with the war. I can
remember one visitor who was a poet, I don't remember his
name. Anyway, he talked about the young English poets.
This was the time when we were hearing "Poppies grow on
Flander field." James, I want to say James Joyce, no, what
was the Joyce — ?
STONEFIELD: Joyce Kilmer.
HARRIS: Yes. I can remember his talk was entitled "The
New Elizabethans." And I can remember a woman, a miniature
painter, who was there and talked. For support of
something, she sold little black-and-white photographs of
this miniature portrait of, not Foch who was the commander,
but who was the other French leader? I can't remember his
name now. I can remember her leading us in various
songs. There were all the war songs, "Over There" and
"Beautiful Katie," and all of these things. I remember the
meetings down in the city park. Pioneer Park, too, and
singing "Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and
smile, smile, smile." I remember all these things. So,
the first two years were very much filled with all of this
sort of activity going on. No one had time to think about
anything personal, we were all in it pretty much
One thing that I think of with some revulsion, and it
was something I experienced at the time, was the anti-
German feeling. Germans who had been admired and liked and
praised, treated with every consideration, suddenly were
the enemy, and nothing that you could say or do seemed to
be too bad. How people could change so quickly I don't
know. But they did.
STOtlEFIELD: These were people that you knew in the
HARRIS: Yes. Yes.
STONEFIELD: And how were they treated? What happened to
HARRIS: Oh, well, they were ridiculed. I remember a
person's garden, it was actually a victory garden — Did we
call them victory gardens in that war? They had a
different name for them in the Second World War. Anyway,
driving trucks and things through it, :)ust smashing it up,
doing other things, ]ust to express their hatred of the
owner with a German name. I can remember attending a
reading, we had such things as readings in those days. I
don't remember the title of it, but it was anti-German
propaganda. Efficiency became a swear word. Propaganda
was first heard I think, by Americans, certainly by any
that I knew, in World War I, and it was considered a German
word. Propaganda and efficiency described Germans, and
because it was German, was something that we despised.
These are just queer things, but they tell something about
the attitude that occurred. Anyway, the war was enough to
occupy ourselves. We weren't occupied with our own
problems and difficulties.
STONEFIELD: I wonder if, this is changing totally, if your
education in high school, did anything towards pushing you
towards the arts, the sculpture, the architecture later on.
HARRIS: Not very much. I used to draw cartoons
occasionally when I was a high school student. I took a
freehand drawing course as a college student because I
thought I had time for it. But I hadn't reached the ooint
by the time my father died of deciding what I was going to
do for a career. I had been the morning newspaper, the San
Bernardino Daily Sun's high school correspondent in my
senior year, and I thought perhaps I wanted to be a
journalist. But, as I say, I dropped out of college for a
year — it turned out to be permanently — because of bad
health, and went to Otis Art Institute, now called Los
Angeles County School of Art or Institute of Art, I
think. It was the old Harrison Gray Otis house that it was
in, right where Wilshire Boulevard at that time ended, at
Westlake Park, now called MacArthur Park.
3T0NEFIELD: I think it's still there, isn't it?
HARRIS: It may be. They had once added on to it, but I
don't know whether they later destroyed the old house or
STONEFIELD: I think it is a new building.
HARRIS: Anyway, I became quite interested in drawing and
particularly in sculpture and stayed on for a second
year. Something else I suppose I should say, after the war
there was a great change. And what emerged was something
that had probably been developing underground for a good
many years. But it wasn't until the war was over and the
surface had been disturbed as much as it had that these
things came out. Some of them, of course, were much
earlier but were not widespread, whether you're talking
about psychoanalysis or literature or painting. I can
remember the first reproductions of paintings, the first by
[Paul] Gauguin that I saw. Anyway, there was something new
that distinguished all the arts and seemed to relate them
to one another, relate each art more closely to every other
art than to the same art of another period.
STONEFIELD: Did you feel this at that time? Were you
aware of it at all?
HARRIS: Yes. Very much so. Very much so. Probably in a
very exaggerated way.
STONEFIELD: When did you first become aware of this, when
you were studying art or--?
HARRIS: Well, I suppose it was beginning when I was still
a student at Pomona College, although it was when I was at
Otis that this really became widespread in my own
recognition of it. I was then more conscious of other
fields, and of course these new expressions were being
proclaimed rather loudly. And it was new, that was the
important thing, and we were glorying at what was new
without feeling any necessity of having to destroy the
old. We just left the old behind us. That was our--
STONEFIELD: It was a new age.
HARRIS: Which made it a much healthier thing. There was
no combativeness involved in this at all. It was a new
age. That was it.
STONEFIELD: Was there any interest in art in your family?
HARRIS: No. Mo .
STONEFIELD: Did your father have any interest, I mean that
was related to the architecture, did he draw or did he do
HARRIS: Not very much, no. His interest was probably more
STONEFIELD: Did he do the graphic part of the architecture
HARRIS: Yes, yes. I mean he was a good architect, but he
wasn't an outstanding one in any way. He never thought of
it as being something that you could be outstanding in,
STONEFIELD: How did you feel about the buildings that he
HARRIS: Well, some of them I liked, some of them I didn't
think were very distinguished. And as I say, I don't think
that it was a subject that he was, what do you say, very
strongly interested in. I mean he enjoyed the practice of
architecture, but I don't think that he had any thought of
making any great thing out of it. And that may have had
something to do with my not being more excited about it.
As I've said it wasn't until I had seen a building by
Frank Lloyd Wright and before I'd even heard his name.
There was a fellow student, a girl in my class, sculpture
class, at Otis. She and her husband were building a house
nd she mentioned this fact and then she mentioned that the
rchitsct was Lloyd Wright. I didn't flick an eyelash, and
he said, "the son of Frank Lloyd Wright." VJell, I didn't
know who Frank Lloyd Wright was either. She said, "The
house by him up on Olive Hill, why don't you go up and see
it?" So, Saturday I wandered up there, more just because I
thought she'd ask me if I done it or not. I didn't expect
to be interested in it, because architecture is not art.
It is ]ust a mixed thing. It couldn't be art. It couldn't
be pure enough to be art. But this was the great
3T0NEFIELD: This was like your teacher in high school.
HARRIS: Yes. Well, I had had one other great
revelation. I don't know whether that was anything that I
sent you or not. This was when I was still a high school
student. It was during the spring vacation that I was
spending in the cabin we had up in the mountains up above
San Bernardino. Oh, this ties in again with Professor
Knopp, Gideon Knopp. He had got me interested in
evolution. But Darwin, and Spencer in particular, were
more than I could handle very well. So he put me on to —
What was his name? He came to a number of conclusions that
Darwin had come to, before Darwin's had been published at
all. But he wrote very well, and this was a book called
Social Environment and Moral Progress. I'll think of his
name in a minute — it was Alfred Russel Wallace. Anyway,
this was vacation, and I was sitting on the side of the
canyon up there reading the book, when suddenly I saw
evolution in a way I'd never seen it before. I mean this
was a case in which the heavens opened and you see it
spread out in front of you in all its glory.
STONEFIELD: Sudden illumination, right.
HARRIS: I don't remember why I got into this. It had
something to do with what I was talking about. Anyway, it
was another, oh yes, a revelation, as Hollyhock House had
been a revelation.
STONEFIELD: It's exciting when all of these facts come
together into some kind of a whole. Instead of being
separate and disconnected, then they mean something.
HARRIS: There's meaning. You see a pattern that
encompasses everything, whether it's a pattern of thought
or a pattern of operation. Anyway, it becomes universal.
STONEFIELD: And you see yourself in relation to it also.
HARRIS: Yes, you see yourself as — You rather glory in
your part in it.
HARRIS: Not just as a soldier in the ranks, but as an
organism in a still larger organism.
STONEFIELD: Now this was all in high school that this
HARRIS: That was in high school, yes.
STONEFIELD: When you decided to go to Pomona, what did you
HARRIS: Well, I was taking largely, of course, what one
would have to take in the first two years there, although,
as I say, I hadn't decided what I was going to do for a
career. I took the customary freshman subjects. In this
case I added Latin, which I hadn't had in high school,
and — Let's see, I'll have to jump around, I can't remember
the two years very fully. An introduction to general
psychology, which was my first. I had a course in
sociology as a sophomore, and I think it was probably on
account of some of the things that I heard in Knopp's high
school class that I did that. Here again we wrote papers
every week. This was a large class, as such classes are
apt to be.
STONEFIELD: What was large?
HARRIS: Well, at least a hundred. But I wrote these
papers-- Oh, yes, and just at this time, I guess it was as
a freshman in college, not in high school, I again found
something in the library. In this case, I had gone to get
a book of Ibsen plays, and next to it was George Bernard
Shaw's Quintessence of Ibsenism, which I took. That
started me off, as you can imagine, on a whole new thing.
I became a very strong admirer of Shaw, tried to write as
he did in his prefaces, and this probably had a great deal
to do with what I wrote for the sociology class.
STONEFIELD: You said that what sort of ended your career
at Pomona was that you became ill.
STONEFIELD: What happened exactly?
HARRIS: Well, I had just lost weight, I lost energy. I
went through the first year at Otis and then went down to
spend the summer with a girl cousin, a married cousin of
mine, in the San Diego mountains — she was about ten years
older than I--to try to recover from it. I came back and
spent two or three months at Otis and then dropped out
again and went down to Imperial Valley, where an aunt and
uncle were living, and was there until the beginning of
summer. I came back and then reentered Otis and went on.
STONEFIELD: Was your father still alive during this
HARRIS: No, my father died in my freshman year of college,
died in the spring of 1922. I had entered college in the
fall of '21.
STONEFIELD: You know I never asked you. Did you have any
STONEFIELD: You didn't. You were an only child?
HARRIS: That probably had something to do, the fact that I
spent more of my life around adults than I would have, that
STONEFIELD: I think that tends to make you find your own
amusements a little more readily.
HARRIS: Well, it made me a little more solitary, and it
also probably gave me a connection with the ideas, ideals,
and manners of a slightly earlier period, too. I know I'm
inclined to think of myself as really being nineteenth
century instead of twentieth.
STONEFIELD: Not in your work certainly. Now I've lost my
train of thought. So that you graduated from high school,
you went to Pomona, and then somehow or other you moved to
Los Angeles and started at the Otis Institute and that was
disrupted. That was actually a big change, from Pomona to
Otis. What sort of led you to change your direction that
HARRIS: Well, I guess some part in that change in
direction may have been owing to the fact that, following
my father's death, my mother went to live with her older
sister and family in Los Angeles. So I had been going on
occasional weekends and vacation from Claremont to Los
Angeles to be with her. And Otis was there and the change
was done without any particular thought. I suppose it was
a convenient thing to do.
STONEFIELD: But you had not had really any art training
before then. There must have been some kind of a--
HARRIS: I had had a one-hour course at Pomona. As I
recall, it was just a freehand drawing course.
STONEFIELD: Were you just sort of feeling for something
that was going to get you excited that way that your high
school studies had done?
HARRIS: Well, I hadn't expected it to lead to a career in
any way. I had discovered, as I mentioned, a Gauguin, in a
reproduction in Century Magazine, it must have been about
1921. And then I discovered in the secondhand bookstores,
the Holmes secondhand bookstores in Los Angeles at the
time, copies of the-- What's this magazine? It was largely
literary. It was the most avant garde of all at that
time — Oh yes. The Dial. And each month there was a single
colored reproduction in it. A [Paul] Cezanne or [Paul]
Gauguin or similar in it. So I began haunting the Holmes
secondhand bookstores to buy these things.
There was an exhibition in 1925, now this is along
toward the end of my time at Otis, that was assembled by
the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science, and Art out at
Exposition Park. It was called the Pan-American
Exhibition. I remember I made a design cover for the
catalog. It wasn't used. A classmate of mine, Anders
Aldrin made the one that was actually used. But I saw
there a Diego Rivera, a real one. Now I had seen some
black-and-white reproductions a few months earlier in a
little Mexican magazine called Arquitectura or El
Arquitecto, that someone had left by accident in Los
Angeles Public Library, which was before the library got
into the Goodhue building that is now being destroyed I
understand. The library then was down in the Metropolitan
Building which was across from Pershing Square, then called
Central Park. No, it was changed to Pershing Square in
World War I, so it's name had already been changed. My
mother still called it Central Park. Anyway, this copy of
El Arquitecto or Arquitectura that I found there had, along
with photographs, had--
TAPE NUMBER: II, SIDE ONE
AUGUST 15, 1979
HARRIS: Included in the pages of the magazine were
photographs in black and white of Diego Rivera's murals
for, I don't think it was the ministry of education, I
don't think that had been built at that time. I think it
was something else. Anyway, I was very much taken with
them, and I took the magazine to school and showed it to
various ones, all of whom wanted copies of it. So I sat
down then to write the editor of the magazine requesting
six copies. I wrote it in my own best Spanish. Then I
took it to a South American, a Colombian student who was
there, and got him to proof it, and then a Spanish priest
came in and so I took it to him. So he put the final
touches on it. Well, I got back from the editor of El
Arquitecto a request that I become his North American
STONEFIELD: So you were back in journalism again.
HARRIS: I was afraid I wouldn't have all this help later,
so I didn't go ahead with it. But, anyway, I became very
much interested. And then I saw my first original Diego
Rivera in this Pan-American show. Much later, at the time
of the exposition in San Francisco, in '39 I guess it was,
Rivera was there and painted a large mural out where
everyone could watch him work on it, and I met him at that
time. A friend of ours, Emmy Lou Packard; whose father had
been an engineer in Mexico and who had grown up practically
in Diego Rivera's studio, had us to dinner with Rivera.
Then much later, after I had gone to the University of
Texas as director of the school of architecture there, I
took a class of twenty-one to Mexico City to the Eighth
Pan-American Congress of Architects which was being held on
the new campus of the [National Autonomous] University of
Mexico. None of the buildings were finished. We held our
meetings in the biggest of the frontones there. Anyway, I
met Rivera again. Well, then there were others that came
along. Then there was the whole — Well, I'm not following
this in a very good order. Anyway, my interest in painting
and sculpture slightly preceded my interest in
architecture. And —
STONEFIELD: Had you been to very many museums? I imagine
there weren't very many around in those —
HARRIS: No, no.
STONEFIELD: In Los Angeles.
HARRIS: No, this show that the museum, Los Angeles County
Museum, put on there was the biggest one that I had ever
seen. I'd never been in San Francisco at that time. I
hadn't seen anything there. So everything was through
books and magazines. In the library at Otis, there were
some German architectural magazines that gave me a first
glimpse of modern European work.
STONEFIELD: The art or the architecture?
HARRIS: The architecture I'm thinking of right now. I was
interested. Then in the Los Angeles public library I came
across a little thin book by Eric Mendelsohn with those
expressionist drawings that he had made during the war
years. They had interested me very much as drawings and as
shapes. Not as buildings however.
STONEFIELD: Did they not seem possible as buildings or — ?
HARRIS: Well, they seemed too arbitrary to work as
buildings. Of course there was the Einstein Tower that had
come along, but I didn't see that. It was a few years I
think after that before it was published. Then when I
discovered the Wright building, I immediately went to the
Los Angeles library department — I was now familiar with it
for other reasons. And, very fortunately, it had the
Wasmuth two-part folio of the Wasmuth Collection of Wright
drawings. Nothing could have been more perfect for me to
have seen at that time. The drawings were every bit as
good, perhaps even better, than photographs might have
been. And they were just as real as any photograph could
be. And the fact they were all drawn in the same way--
STONEFIELD: They're very beautiful too.
HARRIS: This made, yes, made them even more powerful. And
then a year or two later the Dutch architectural magazine,
Wendingen I think it was called, published very beautifully
the Life Work of Frank Lloyd Wright. It was the life work
up to 1923.
STONEFIELD: They didn't know.
HARRIS: It was the most important, however, by far. It
could have all stopped there and he would have been just as
great in my estimation. So the Los Angeles library was a
very valuable thing to me. I had discovered other things
there too in painting and drawing. I perhaps should have
mentioned one thing I have forgot. And that was while I
was still at Otis I joined a group called the Los Angeles
Art Students League which S. flacDonald-Wr ight was the head
of. It was a very informal sort of thing, and we met in a
little room--of course there were two, maybe three, rooms--
up on the third floor of a building on Uorth Spring Street,
in about the 200 block, I guess. And MacDonald-Wr ight
was-- Who was his sidekick? Morgan Russell. As young boys
in 1911, they went to Europe. They were painters, and
Thomas Benton was also along and part of that group.
Anyway, they found that to be anybody there you had to
establish a school, a school of art. So they established
the school of synchromism, painting with color, and W'right
was marvelous. It was color that was structure as well as
harmony. But he was a marvelous draftsman, too. I mean
that in figure drawing one would think that Michelangelo
couldn't have done as well. [laughter] Really. Anyway,
there was a group of maybe six or eight. There were not
always that many. There were some that came and more or
less sat around and looked. Usually there were probably
about six of us all together. The two best of the group
were James Redman and Al King. I think Al King is still
living, I'm not sure. Anyway, this was a side matter that
I forgot to mention and thought that it should be in
here. Then I remember that at the Los Angeles Philharmonic
Auditorium one afternoon there was a demonstration by
Thomas Wilfred of his color organ.
STONEFIELD: What was that?
HARRIS: Well, this was abstract painting with colored
light. And he had a rather complicated machine, the
clavilux, I believe he called it. It was extremely
interesting. I think, aside from the few of us from Otis
who went down, there was no one else there. He spoke of it
not only as a tool for the construction of abstractions
with colored light, which would be the most abstract of
course of all, but also its use in the theater to construct
a background, which could be done. The unfortunate thing
about it I decided as I watched it was that he would build
a composition, but he couldn't go beyond a certain point,
without first dissolving what he had already built in order
to re-use the keys. So you'd see the whole thing
dissolving. I thought that was very upsetting. Much, much
later he came back and--oh, I don't know, this must have
been six years or more later — he came back, and this time
the auditorium was filled. It was a night performance, and
he had overcome that particular feature of it I had
disliked. But this is something that belongs along with
synchromism. I suppose there are things that are just as
exciting now, but these were the things that were exciting
to me at that particular time. And because it was new, and
we thought that something was being realized that had never
been realized before. It was something that was happening
in all of the arts.
STONEFIELD: A unity of purpose in amongst the arts.
HARRIS: Well, it was simply expressing that unity, which
of course is the purpose of all art--to unify, to resolve
contradictions and difficulties, to make everything work as
in the "harmony of the spheres," I guess. [laughter]
STONEFIELD: When you were going to Otis where did you
HARRIS: I lived with my aunt and uncle where my mother was
1 iving .
STONEFIELD: And where was that?
HARRIS: That was out near the UCLA [actually USC]
campus. Actually the house was one that had been built
quite early when my uncle's father and mother and some of
the children came from Mississippi to California. His name
was Harper, and he took up a quarter section, a hundred and
sixty acres of land, as a homestead from the government and
which extended from Adams to Jefferson, and from Hoover to
STONEFIELD: That's a nice piece of property.
HARRIS: Twenty-ninth Street, which was the street the
house backed on, was called Harper Avenue at that time
[and] until much later, and the house I lived in was the
house that was built then. The millwork came by boat
around the Horn from New England. And then it was
remodeled in the eighties, the 1880s, and faced a different
way then, and was changed some. Well, anyway, I used to
walk over Sunday afternoons to Exposition Park — it was only
a few blocks away you see — and I'd go through the museum
there to see what was new. There were some permanent
exhibitions too. One that became almost permanent — at
least it lasted long enough, and I don't know when it
finally was ended — had a very powerful influence on me, and
this was a Chinese sculpture and painting collection. It
was the General Munthe collection. General Munthe had been
a Swedish governor of some kind in China, and apparently he
had just picked what he wanted. It was an enormous
collection, and there were, well, half-a-dozen extremely
fine paintings. There was one that I will never forget.
And then it had a great deal of sculpture, stone
sculpture. It cost so much to move it that it was left
there for years. It was put up on the top floor of the new
wing of the museum, and I used to go up there with a pad
and pencil simply to draw them, simply just study them
through drawing them.
STONEFIELD: I have a question. You said that you lived
near UCLA? Was this — ?
HARRIS: No, USC.
STONEFIELD: Oh, USC.
HARRIS: When I spoke of something near UCLA I was speaking
of the house in photographs that we saw up on the balcony,
which was the Ralph Johnson House.
STONEFIELD: I see.
HARRIS: Which is, I can't remember what the name of the
boulevard is that goes along the north, I guess it goes
along the north side of the campus. It's north--
STONEFIELD: Sunset. Is it Sunset?
HARRIS: Maybe it is. Off it runs Sycamore Canyon-- I
can't remember whether it's called Sycamore Drive or
Sycamore Boulevard. It goes over into the valley. And
this house —
STONEFIELD: Beverly Glen maybe?
HARRIS: That is another ravine with a road leading over
into the valley. It's not Beverly Glen that I mean.
STOMEFIELD: You lived with your aunt and uncle and your
STONEFIELD: And you were going to Otis Institute.
STONEFIELD: And discovered Hollyhock House. I wonder if
you could kind of tell me what it seemed like to you when
you first saw it, I mean how it affected you.
HARRIS: I have said this and I've written it so much that
it begins to sound rather corny I'm afraid. Well, I took
this Saturday to see the building, and I entered on the
road that wound up from Vermont Avenue near Sunset. And as
I came up I suddenly came on, I don't know whether it was
called cottage A or cottage B. There were two guest
cottages. And this really stopped me. I had never seen
anything like it. It looked so very Japanese to me, and
yet it was a flat roof building, plaster with cast concrete
ornament. And yet the whole shape, the whole feeling of
the building anyway, was very, very Japanese. Then I went
on up and to the top of the hill, and there I could see
bits of the main building through the hedge. I would stop,
and look and go on, stop and look and go on. I was afraid
to go through.
STONEFIELD: It was open to the public at that point?
HARRIS: Oh, no, it wasn't. No. Hadn't been given. Miss
Barnsdall still owned it. She didn't live in it very much,
but it was still her private property and it was not opened
to the public at all. You see it wasn't finished until
STONEFIELD: This was 1924?
HARRIS: And this was 1925. Well, here was a long, low
building that I could only see bits of at a time, and I had
to put the bits together. It was like a long animal for
that matter. You get part here and part here, but you know
it's the same animal. I finally came to a hole in a hedge
where I could actually step through and see it. And I saw
it under the most favorable circumstances. It was in the
late afternoon, and the sun was getting low, and the
walls — which were sort of a golden tan — were very gold in
the light of the setting sun. And the building was very
horizontal and had wings that came toward you and away from
you, this way and that way, and the movement of these wings
was paralleled with the movement of bands of repeated
ornament. The horizontal bands were just above a vertical
break in the wall. It would be just above the window line,
there was a ledge, and above the ledge the wall sloped
slightly inward. And on this ledge was the hollyhock
ornament. I didn't know what it was. It wasn't important
that it resemble anything in particular.
STONEFIELD: It actually doesn't look much like a
HARRIS: Well, you have the vertical repetition of
blossoms. But I'm glad it doesn't look any more like a
flower than it does. Well, this was the most rhythmic
thing that I had ever seen. This was sculpture, but it was
sculpture on a completely different scale, and I simply
couldn't stand still. I just had to move. As the building
moved, I moved. That was all. I had to follow its
development. And the smooth walls of the building with the
intricate cast ornament that here appears like locks of
hair on a smooth brow. The ornament would follow around a
wing, and then it would come back again on another wing.
And then I suddenly saw the ornament on each side of the
large opening in the wall of what turned out to be the
living room. It opened the living room out to a
rectangular pool. I could see this same pattern but now
incised, not in relief but in-- What's the contrary of
relief? And then I discovered it in the full round coming
up out of the center of the building mass, from places you
couldn't see from where I was, couldn't see what the
ornament was part of, but the ornament was always in
pairs. This building was something I had never been able
to imagine before. And I was all alone you see. That was
the wonderful thing about it. I had discovered the
Sleeping Beauty. [laughter]
AUGUST 22, 1979
STONEFIELD: We left off last time with your description of
Hollyhock House, and I was wondering if you could tell me
what happened after that as far as your entrance into the
HARRIS: VJell, this was a very surprising development
because I had had no interest in architecture before, and I
was still interested in sculpture. So it was perhaps a
year before I decided to switch. However, I continued to
discover all that I could about Mr. [Frank Lloyd] Wright,
and in the meantime I met [Rudolf M.] Schindler and Neutra,
and it was out of discussions with Neutra in particular
that I finally decided to switch.
STONEFIELD: How did you meet them?
HARRIS: I discovered a building under construction that
was unlike any building that I had seen anywhere. It
resembled somewhat photographs in European work that I had
seen, and the general feeling of it was more that of Eric
Mendelsohn's work than any other that I could recall. It
was a rather express ionistic building, and I discovered
that the architect was R. M. Schindler. I'd never heard of
Schindler. I looked in the yellow pages of the book and
found his address and without calling went to see him. And
he took me in and I told him why I was there. And he took
me into the living room, which adjoined the drafting room,
and then brought in a stack of photographs and some
drawings and put them on the table and suggested that I
just look at them, which I proceeded to do. But I wasn't
looking always at the picture. I was looking at the room
that I was in. It had a cement slab floor. The walls were
partly slabs of cement, uncolored like the floor but with a
little bit of texture from the casting still on them. They
were in panels about four feet wide, and between each pair
of panels was a strip of glass about two or three inches
wide. And outside light fell on the floor through these.
Outside the glass there was ivy growing up it in many
places. Walls on opposite sides of the building were tied
together overhead at intervals by doubled beams of
redwood. The slabs formed the outside walls, not the
partition walls. Above the level of the tie beams there
were small windows about sixteen inches high by four feet
wide that let light in high up. Opposite a slab wall would
usually be a wall into a court. There were several courts
in the building. This opposite wall was made up, usually,
of sliding panels filled with cheesecloth or some very
inexpensive, but translucent material. The whole thing was
a very inexpensive building done with many temporary
materials, some of which, like the cloth, was replaced
later by glass. Outside — because I looked through the
glass into the garden — there was simply Bermuda grass and
hedges of castor bean plants and bamboo. Everything was
extremely common, and I was amazed at the total effect of
it and decided that it must be magic. The design was done
with the most common materials, and the result was so very
uncommon. And as I was sitting there, looking alternately
outside the room and at the pictures, someone came through
the room. It was Mrs. [Dione] Neutra. I didn't know who
she was, and, as I remarked in a letter that I wrote to
Pauline Schindler only about five years ago, she was
barelegged, wearing sandals, and had some loose kind of
tunic on, probably made of cheesecloth or unbleached
muslin, or something of the sort. Her hair was drawn back
in what became practically a badge as far as she was
concerned, with ribbon across her forehead. She simply
smiled at me and passed on. As I told Pauline Schindler,
she really didn't interrupt my thoughts because she seemed
so in character with the building, and all I could think of
was maybe I was on Mount Olympus. It was a very simple
Greek thing and completely divorced in my perceptions of
anything belonging to the year 1927. And then shortly
after that Mr. [Richard J.] Neutra came in. He came
directly to me and sat down beside me and looked at the
pictures with me and talked about them.
The result was that a little later when there was a
series of lectures by him at the new Academy of iModern
Art-- It had two branches, one in the old Chouinard art
school out on Eighth Street near Westlake Park and the
other in the new Fine Arts Building down on Seventh near
Flower Street. I'm trying to remember the name of the man
who founded them — Ferenz, F. K. Ferenz. I received an
announcement of these lectures and of course I went. I
enjoyed very much the lectures because here was an
introduction to ideas underlying modern architecture as
IJeutra understood it, and relating them not only to new
technological processes of building production but also to
matters of civic planning and other things involved in
technology. There I met Greg Ain, who was also there
listening. And a little bit later, when the series was
over, Greg Ain and I, and two or three others who were at
the series of lectures, none of them as interested as we
two, undertook to have a little class at the Academy of
Modern Art. We began by each designing an individual
STONEFIELD: Who was the teacher in this?
HARRIS: Neutra. And we each chose a project. I think
Neutra may have made some suggestions. I had been
following the progress of the design of the Lovell House--
I have made one mistake in my chronology here. Between the
time of these lectures and the beginning of this class, I
had worked for a very short time in TJeutra's office. I had
decided that I wanted to switch to architecture, and I had,
as I think I mentioned last time. I had a transcript of my
record sent up at Berkeley and had planned to enter in the
STONEFIELD: Is this before you met "Jeutra and Schindler,
or as a result?
HARRIS: No, no. As a result of having — I beg your
pardon. It's barely possible. It was after I had
discovered Wright, it was some time after that. It was
along about this time I guess that I made that decision.
STONEFIELD: To go to Berkeley.
HARRIS: Anyway, it was at about this time that I planned
to transfer to Berkeley and told Neutra that. He suggested
that I would learn more working for him and taking some
technical courses at night. I was persuaded that he was
the person who would teach me most that I decided to do
that and canceled my plans to enter Berkeley in the fall.
I went to work then for Neutra — but for five days only — on
the Lovell House. They were the last five days that the
Lovell House was in the working drawings' production, and
there was no work after that was done.
STONEFIELD: In the office, no work in the office at all?
HARRIS: No, not at all. And then this class, that had
grown out of the series of lectures, started. I think
there were six of us in it. I have a photograph of us all
out together a little bit later looking at the foundation
work of the Lovell House. As I said, we chose individual
projects. And because I had been working on the Lovell
House, I was particularly interested in house construction,
and I was particularly interested in the methods that had
been used there. So I proposed to design a building that
would be a frame structure. It was two stories in
height. The frame, however, was reinforced concrete, not
steel. And it shows a very strong influence both of the
Lovell House and perhaps to some extent of the Garden
Apartments, the apartment building that I had first
discovered and had thought was Schindler's. It was by
Schindler and Neutra, and really it was more Neutra than it
was Schindler, as I would have realized if I had known
about Neutra and that he had worked with Mendelsohn
earl ier .
STONEFIELD: I have a question. What was it about him that
drew you more to him than to Schindler? Because you were
obviously affected by Schindler's house.
HARRIS: Well, it was more the fact that Neutra was
interested in me. He was interested in having some
disciples, and he devoted himself to me. Schindler was
very friendly, but I wasn't invited in to participate in
anything. I had listened to these lectures of Neutra. I
was very much struck by the influence of technology on
design in a suggestive way as well as technology as a .-neans
of production. I naturally followed what was most
immediate that was also appealing to me. So this was the
way it started. And because my work off and on continued
on Neutra projects, projects that were only projects to him
too, not actual building commissions. My work with Neutra,
my interest in his work and his ideas, then dominated my
thinking. I continued to look at Schindler's work. I was
extremely interested in it. But, not being a participant
in it, it didn't go beyond that.
STONEFIELD: I interrupted you; you go on with your
discussion of your project.
HARRIS: Oh, well, I remember Greg worked on a design for a
penitentiary. I don't know whether Neutra suggested it or
not. I know Neutra did talk about pref abrication as the
only means of the future for the production of buildings,
that pref abrication wasn't just for housing, but even for
public buildings, jails, courthouses, all sorts of
things. And so Greg took on that. I've forgotten what
some of the others took. None of them carried them very
far, however, and they dropped out at the end of this
I think it was immediately after this, soon afterward
anyway, that Neutra decided that it would be interesting to
use the problems then being used by the modern European —
German principally, [as well as] Austrian and French--
architects who were then producing projects in connection
with the International Congresses for Modern Architecture
[Congr$s Internat ionaux d ' Architecture Moderne (CIAM)].
Europeans were accustomed to working on projects because
they seldom had any actual buildings. They had no clients,
with very few exceptions, and so they worked on projects
that were decided on at these congresses. The earlier
congresses had to do with housing. This was an important
thing, particularly in Germany after World War I when there
was a great need for housing-- And I take back that remark
that their work was almost entirely projects. It was
not. Low-cost housing was one thing that they did have,
not as much perhaps as they would like. These projects,
then, were exhibited at the congresses. They were
discussed, and I guess took the place of the manifestoes
that had been the important things before then. So at
Neutra's suggestion, [I was] made secretary of the American
group which was then formed. [It] included Neutra, Greg
Ain and me, plus two or three others in the East who were
not very directly involved in this at this time. Anyway, I
wrote to Sigfried Giedion in Zurich and expressed our
interest in becoming affiliated with it and sent in our
dues and received the programs. And so we proceeded then
to design group housing. It turned out to be largely row
housing and looked very strange in America and in Southern
California, the center of the single-family house. But
because it was a real problem there, it was an interesting
one to work on. The projects were exhibited each year at a
meeting of the congresses.
And in order to compare our work with theirs and to
judge them from the standpoint of efficiency, particularly
in space, Neutra suggested that I develop a chart, and he
named it — it was a German name — the minimum existence
correlation chart. Now minimal existence rubbed me a
little bit the wrong way, but I was looking at this purely
as a project. Anyway, with this chart one could quickly
take any one of several factors that were involved — the
number in the family, the income, the number of rooms, the
total area, the cost per square foot, the cost per cubic
foot. I don't know whether any other things or not. I
think there were five factors. Anyway, by beginning with
any one of these, one could quickly determine what,
according to minimal existence standards, would be the
minimum for each of the others.
And then, after — I think we worked two years on
housing— and then the next congress was on city planning.
And each group was asked to take its own city and redesign
it according to the latest standards and theories of city
planning. So we took Los Angeles, and we chose what seemed
so far in the distance I hardly thought I would ever live
to see it, the year 1950. This was to be Los Angeles in
1950 as we would design it, redesign it, based on its
present pattern. And of course the most remarkable thing
about it was the fact that it had grown up in the
automobile age. Detroit was the only other city that even
approached it. Neutra had some ideas about the automobile
which proved to be erroneous, such as, if we devoted the
entire ground surface of the city, the downtown anyway, to
transportation, to cars —
TAPE NUMBER: II, SIDE TWO
AUGUST 22, 1979
STONEFIELD: Where were we?
HARRIS: Oh yes, yes. We found that devoting the entire
surface of the downtown area to either streets of parking
for cars, we couldn't begin to accommodate all the cars
that would need to be there, despite the fact that our
buildings were widely spaced and only twelve stories high,
which was the building code limitation there at that
time. They were thin slab buildings, so every office
really had an outside face. There were second-story
sidewalks, and the block-long buildings were joined
together at intervals by cross-walks and cross streets.
Even so, one couldn't begin to take care of all cars, even
with this limited downtown population.
STONEFIELD: There was no thought of alternative forms of
HARRIS: Oh yes, we had plenty of alternatives.
STONEFIELD: Oh, you did.
HARRIS: We were making this, whether we knew it or not, as
a part of Neutra's ideal city. Rush City Reformed. That
name, "Rush City," always bothered me too, just as "minimal
existence" had. But, anyway, that was the name for it, and
we proceeded to develop this in drawings. It was the
throughways and the overpasses as they came through the
town that were my particular part in this design.
Well, at the end of this time there was a congress,
and Neutra decided to attend it. The Lovell House had been
completed. He had received his fee. He had some money.
He had made photographs of the Lovell House, and so with
them under his arm he proceeded to Europe by way of Japan,
where he gave some talks and where a folio of his work was
to be published. One thing that I have neglected to say
is-- Well, let me finish this too. Because Los Angeles is
so big--what was it? twenty-eight miles I think from the
city hall to San Pedro--it was impossible to make our plan
at the same scale as those of the other members. We had to
use a smaller scale. Even so, it was the biggest of all of
those that were exhibited.
One thing I forgot to say-- I got mixed up in thinking
that we went directly to the CIAM projects from those
individual projects. In between there was the design of an
airport. This was for a national competition. The Lehigh
Portland Cement Airport Competition was its name. Lehigh
Portland Cement Company was the sponsor of it. We decided
to enter, and, as I have remarked elsewhere, this was
really my big learning experience with Neutra. We were
designing something that no one knew anything about
really. They knew something about planes, the length of
runways necessary for existing planes, and that was about
all. We read everything that had been published on the
subject, and I spent some time out at Mines Field, which
was the young airport, it had one runway.
STONEFIELD: Where is that?
HARRIS: Well, it was down the coast toward San Pedro but
not so very far. It's the main airport now, it's the Los
STONEFIELD: Oh, really. It was just, I see, it was just
HARRIS: It was abandoned at one time, and they moved to
Glendale, and then from Glendale to Burbank, and then they
moved back to Mines Field much later.
Well, anyway, at that time there was so little that
was known. One thing that Neutra did know that no one else
in the competition knew was that airports are part of a
much larger design, the design of a region and of a city.
It's the connection point between various forms of
transportation. It's not simply between two different legs
in a journey by air where you merely change planes. It's
how you get into the city, and from the city out to the
airport, and how you do it in a short length of time.
And so Neutra proceeded to use certain ideas that he
had developed earlier in connection with other Rush City
Reformed designs, particularly railroad connections to a
city transportation pattern. Here we added the airline
connections, and Neutra insisted upon our calling it — not
an air terminal, which was how the competition described
it--but an air transfer, a place where one kind of
transportation ends and another takes over. And this was
the important feature of our design. We worked on it with
great enthusiasm, connecting our Rush City design, which
was very much influenced by the design of modern Vienna,
where the former city wall became the place for a
peripheral boulevard and where there were radiating
boulevards and other transportation systems, surface and
subway. So our Rush City design, which we developed still
further for surface-rail, subsurface-rail, private
automobile, and motor bus — All of these then had to
connect with the airport lines, and we had to make it as
rapid a connection as possible. The assumption was that
people who travel by air are in a hurry and that we
shouldn't lose time either getting there or in making
connections between different segments of the
So we brought the subway out of the ground as it came
to the airport. We carried it up an incline and onto a
bridge. It reminded me of a pier stretching out into the
ocean. I was familiar with the Santa Monica and other
piers. Our pier stretched out into the airfield. Neutra
had a horror of the vast reception rooms in which persons
waited for their trains to be called. This was at just the
time that Union Station was being planned in the old
Chinatown in Los Angeles. It hadn't yet been built, but
Chinatown was being gradually eroded to make way for it,
plans were out. This kind of station was something that we
wanted to avoid. We wanted to bring each form of
transportation as face to face with the air form as we
We didn't know how big to make it. Our assumption
was, at the time, the planes would get bigger but they
wouldn't get huge. A plane wouldn't attempt to carry in a
single plane all that a single train would carry on a large
transcontinental railroad. Passengers in a hurry would
want to avoid long waits between flights. We would have
many flights and they'd be with the smaller planes. So we
decided, rather arbitrarily, that we would allow for four
simultaneous landings and take-offs. We had a length of
runway that was recommended at that time, and we just
assumed that it would take fifteen minutes for a landing or
a takeoff. So that meant four landings or takeoffs an
hour, fifteen minutes for each one, and with four runways
that would be sixteen in an hour.
So then we proceeded to determine, how large each
waiting room for a flight would be-- And it would be as
near to the plane as possible, actually it would be above
it. The planes would come in underneath this elevated
platform and passengers could go directly down to them.
One wouldn't suffer from the difficulty of understanding
the voice over the loudspeaker telling where and when the
plane was leaving. Of course, I can remember very well the
old Santa Fe station in Los Angeles, where it wasn't a
loudspeaker but a large man with an enormous voice. I was
very small. I can remember holding onto my father's hand
there as this man would boom out the departures and track
numbers. I can remember his picking me up in his arms
once. He had a big voice, he was a big man, and all this
impressed me very much. However, right now we were
interested in making the connections as easy and as near at
hand as possible, and, having determined the size of the
room for each plane bay and the number of seats in it, we
then began to determine such things as the number of seats
in the dining room, even the number of sandwiches in a
sandwich bar, and of course the number of fixtures in the
toilet rooms. All of these things, you see, were based on
the plane size. With one of these details decided on in
the beginning, you go ahead and each decision determines
the next decision and the next and the next.
STONEFIELD: Would you say that his approach to
architecture was not that of a technician, but rather that
of almost a sociologist or a philosopher?
HARRIS: It was that of a designer, bat of a designer of
total design. I mean it wasn't just a particular thing. I
mean he saw architecture as total design. And the
important thing in my experience was seeing where the
suggestion, as well as the need, for the inclusion of
things comes from and how one thing depends on another, how
it's all interrelated. This was what I learned from Meutra
and I learned it on this project, and it happened just at
the right time for me. So this is what I am most grateful
to Neutra for.
STONEFIELD: Do you feel that others of this period had the
same approach? Did Schindler have this same approach, or
HARRIS: It wasn't as related to the region and the city
and total technology. It was related in a smaller way, and
it was something that one used in a smaller way. It was
something that I appreciated in Wright and in Schindler and
in others. It was the totality of it and the fact that
there was more in a design than was commonly thought of.
So this really proceeded the CIAM projects. And, at
the end of the city planning one, Neutra went to Europe.
He was gone then for almost a year, and I worked on some
projects of my own. I got a client, first for a little
remodeling job, then for a small apartment building which
wasn't built. It looked too much like the Garden
Apartments I'm sure. Then on a building for a sculptor
friend that went clear through the working drawings.
Neutra had returned by that time.
STONEFIELD: What did you do while he was gone? Were you
still — ?
HARRIS: I worked largely on projects. I had some real
things, only one was built, the others were projects only.
STONEFIELD: Your own projects, rather than his?
HARRIS: Yes, yes. Greg Ain and I worked together a great
deal of the time. We worked on projects, not the same
project, each of us had his own. And we kept our interest
up very much that way.
STONEFIELD: Were you working in the Schindler studio and
house at that point?
HARRIS: No, no. I only worked there the five days that I
was working on Neutra 's Lovell House. We worked at the
Academy of Modern Art on, I believe, the airport
competition as well as the CIAM projects. It was a very
informal class. We paid no tuition and we simply used the
facilities there, mostly for Neutra's criticisms.
STONEFIELD: I wonder if you could tell me something about
what these people were like, what Mr. Schindler was like,
and what Gregory Ain was like. How did they affect you?
How did you work with them?
HARRIS: Well, Mr. Schindler appeared to be a very
easygoing person, a very genial person, one who had fresh
ideas and ones that were expressed in a graphic form that
was particularly appealing to me.
STONEFIELD: Did he speak a lot about his ideas? Did he
talk with you?
HARRIS: We had very little conversation. I remember once
meeting him out on Olive Hill when he was doing some
remodeling of the larger of the two houses, the guest
houses, and being a little shocked at the way he made
changes in things. Things that he had designed and that
Wright had designed, although he designed more of the
detail of all of the Olive Hill houses than I realized at
the time. The larger aspects of it were very much Wright,
but the smaller ones, many of the details, I've since
discovered were very much Schindler.
And Schindler did them in the most sympathetic and the
most imaginative way. It was his ability to drop one idea
and pick up another fresh one and develop it in a way that
one would think that he had been thinking about if for
years and years and this was not his first try. This was
very surprising to me. And his use of unconventional
materials, the cheapest of materials, and extracting design
possibilities from them. All of this had a very strong
influence on me at the time. All of this, of course,
without working with him, seeing him only occasionally.
I can remember, while Neutra was away, Greg Ain and I
together happened to visit the Elliott House, then under
construction. And I can remember Schindler's description
of things and why he was doing certain things. His
explanation was very interesting, but the building wasn't
as interesting to me because this was probably about the
first of his buildings in which structure no longer became
the dominating factor as it had in the earlier buildings.
In his own house and studio, the walls were cement slabs
cast on the floor, upended into place, and tied together
overhead. This was the dominating factor.
The next building that I became acquainted with, which
was done hardly more than a year later, was the court
[Pueblo Ribera] , the bungalow court, as we called all such
things at that time, down in La Jolla, this was done with
movable forms, using two two-by-s ixteens [to] form the
space in which concrete would be poured. So pouring
sixteen inches at a time and then raising the boards — which
were tied together horizontally and vertically by some
guides — became a feature of the design. A building in
which not only was [there a horizontal] unit — a four-foot
unit had been used in the design studio, it was used again
here — but here there was also a vertical unit, a sixteen-
inch unit, so that vertical divisions, openings and other
major things were multiples of sixteen inches, just as the
horizontal ones were multiples of forty-eight inches. It
was the directness with which results were achieved and the
process, the simplest of processes, suggested the form, a
form which visually became very exciting as well as
economically and technically advantageous, that
distinguished the design.
STONEFIELD: Were you attracted by the way he worked
spontaneously on the site with materials? He did a lot of
direct supervision of his own work, didn't he?
HARRIS: Yes, yes. He had direct and continuous control
over the work on the site, an unusual opportunity because
the work was being done usually without a general
contractor, so he could modify to some extent the design.
This was a great advantage. I don't know that it took this
for me to realize that a building is not really designed
until construction is completed. The difficulty, of
course, in ordinary construction is making a change. It
means a change, usually, in cost, and this means
reconsideration on the part of the client and all sorts of
difficulties. One tries very much to avoid them because
changes always increase cost. Even if you take something
out, it adds to the cost. So Schindler found this the most
advantageous way for him to work. Schindler had not had
the kind of work that tJeutra was eager to get, large-scale
work, work as far as possible done in the factory and very
STONEFIELD: Did he want that kind of work? Schindler? Do
you think he would have wanted to do that kind of work?
HARRIS: Well, he didn't get it anyway, and he gave up
trying very early. His clients were not persons with a
great deal of money. They belonged to a largely bohemian
group of which he became a part. And everything was done
on a very personal relationship between him and his
client. So there was a unity there in the design process,
with the owner and the client being very closely
associated, since Schindler then became in effect the
contractor, although the owner was technically the
contractor and Schindler was simply supervising the work
for the owner for an additional fee.
STONEFIELD: So Neutra's way of working was entirely
HARRIS: It was entirely different. Neutra was interested
in a different thing. They were together at the beginning,
as comes out rather clearly now in Esther McCoy's book.
They were students at one time in the same school, and they
had a shared admiration for Adolph Loos and for others,
including Wright, and for America as well but for different
reasons. Schindler [was interested] partly on account of
building construction here, which he had heard about
through Loos, and partly on account of Wright, with whom he
had been acquainted through the Wasmuth publication.
Neutra [was] interested for the same reasons, but more for
the methods of production in America than was Schindler.
There was quite a lot of time between when Schindler came
to the United States and Neutra's arrival here. Schindler
arrived in 1914, early I guess in 1914, it was before the
declaration of war in Europe, and Meutra [not] until — what
was it? — 1923, I guess it was, I don't think it was '24.
So a great deal had happened. [Tape recorder malfunction
disrupts conversation] Where was I?
STONEFIELD: You were telling me about Neutra coming to
HARRIS: Yes. And how he and Schindler differed and how
Meutra was interested particularly in the technology
here. Well, I can go on with that. Neutra, after spending
a very short time in New York, went on to Chicago where he
met Wright and was invited to Taliesin. He was there for
four or five months I believe. In Chicago he worked in the
office of Holabird and Roche, which was one of the largest
offices in the United States at that time. He worked on
the designs for the new Statler Hotel. This was a building
that exhibited all of the newest and most technical
developments in building at that time and had a very strong
influence on Neutra. The result was that Neutra, from
that, acquired material to write a book, which he had
decided upon perhaps even before he came here, which he
called Wie Baut Amerika [How America Builds]. Anyway, when
Neutra finally came on to Los Angeles he simply moved in
with Schindler. (Mrs. Neutra was here by this time. She
had come ahead, quite a long time ahead.) And he worked on
some of Schindler's work. He designed the landscape, the
garden for —
3T0NEFIELD: Hollyhock House?
HARRIS: Not Hollyhock, I think it was the house for
Lovell, not the beach house, I believe, but a house in
Fallbrook, which I have never seen. I don't know why I
haven't, because I have lived in Fallbrook and have built
two things there, one for myself and one for a client, and
didn't realize that there was this building there. Of
course it may have been so remodeled by this time that I
wouldn't have recognized it if I had seen it. Anyway, then
there was the announcement of an international competition
for a design for the League of Nations building and Neutra
persuaded Schindler to enter it with him. This was a
project that took all of their energies for a great deal of
time, and it's hard to know how much of the design was
Neutra and how much was Schindler.
STONEFIELD: When they worked together, how did they
work? How did they divide up the responsibilities?
HARRIS: Well, there was practically no work I believe on —
STONEFIELD: Well, when they did projects like that how
would they have proceeded?
HARRIS: I don't know. And apparently Pauline Schindler
was only aware of the fact that they were up all hours of
the night, working on this for months until it was
finished. The drawings that I have seen I think were made
by Neutra because they have the look of his drawings, his
renderings. And —
STONEFIELD: Do you think that they were, I mean how
compatible were they would you say?
HARRIS: Well, probably about as compatible as two persons
each with strong ideas of what he wants; as compatible as
such could be. It wasn't something that could last.
Neutra simply used the drafting room there as his office.
He used it all during the development of the Lovell
drawings, which one can't help but consider a little
heartless, since he had stolen Lovell away from Schindler.
Anyway, their cordiality diminished, Schindler's did,
as this continued. So when Neutra left to go on his
invited lecture tour of Europe in the spring of 1930
(although Dione stayed on until July), Schindler I guess
decided that he wanted to keep the place for himself and
that he wouldn't invite Neutra back. I don't know whether
Neutra was aware of it at that time or not. Anyway, when
Neutra did return in 1932, it was probably the spring of
1932, he didn't even attempt to move in there. The first
day he was back I drove his car, which he had forgotten how
to drive, it had been in storage the whole time he was
away. Dione didn't return until some time later. [I] took
him house hunting, found a place for him up near Elysian
Park. Anyway, this ended not only their collaboration on
projects, but their association in the same drafting room.
STONEFIELD: Esther McCoy implied in her book, the recent
book, that Neutra had not treated Schindler very well.
HARRIS: I think that's entirely true. I'm quite aware of
it as I consider the past that I am aware of. And all I
can do is say that the intensity of Neutra 's enthusiasm for
certain things made it easy for him, or possible for him,
to override some feelings of nicety, probably. So that it
was a case of the ends justifying the means.
STONEFIELD: I wonder at this point, before we get into
discussing your own projects and your own work, if you
could tell me about other influences on your work and your
architectural philosophy? Anything that preceded your
meeting with Schindler and Neutra.
HARRIS: Well, certainly whatever character ray own work has
is very much affected by what I saw and experienced in the
twenty years before I met Neutra and Schindler and
Wright. I'm probably a little bit more aware of what these
influences were as I look at my own work now and as I look
back on Neutra's and Schindler's and even Wright's work and
pick out what features of their work affected me. However,
I am most aware of the fact that I grew up in California,
particularly Southern California, and that it is very much
a part of me. And I'm aware too, particularly now that
I've been away for some time and California has changed a
great deal, that the California I'm talking about is a
place and is also a time. It was a California then, in the
first quarter of the century in particular, that was
remarkable for its remoteness from the rest of the
country. It was the whole of the country, almost, in my
mind as I thought of it then. It is also remarkable for
its physical characteristics, for nature as it exists
there. And this nature was marked by a great deal of
variety. There one finds the highest peak in the United
States, Mount Whitney, and the lowest valley in the United
States, Death Valley. The longest coast line probably of
any state and the biggest ocean just outside it. Marvelous
deserts, the Mohave in particular, and the spectacular
valleys, too, like Yosemite. Giant trees, the sequoia.
Beautiful lakes. Lake Tahoe. And, particularly at that
time, the vast carpets of wild flowers that covered valleys
and foothills as far as one could see. The orange groves
that covered the valleys and the foothills, looking like a
chenille bedspread draped over these forms. The tall
palms — and I can remember those particularly — usually in
rows or in pairs, with their round tops elevated on long
sticks above the round tops of the orange trees below, at
that time usually marking the entrances of a driveway to
the house to which the orange grove belonged, at other
times in long lines. They were used as street trees a
great deal then, too. The tall, plume-like eucalyptus, the
citriodora [eucalyptus maculata citriodora] . The
bougainvillea, which was like a giant red scarf over the
water tower that belonged with the — What was the house
there in Pasadena right near intersection of Orange Grove
and Colorado Street?
STONEFIELD: Not Wrigley?
HARRIS: No, the Wrigley is further south. This is near
the corner. He was a great benefactor of Yale University
and [the one] some Yale buildings [are] named after. He
was arrested, or he was cited, not arrested, cited by the
police in Pasadena at one time for driving his horse and
carriage at too rapid a pace. Well, you wouldn't remember
it. It was later turned into, I think to an art center,
and it was there that the industrial design school that was
a joint project of Caltech and Occidental College at one
time — Anyway, I can remember the bougainvillea that used
to spread over its tank house. Bougainvillea spread over
hillsides too. These are all things that are very strong
in my mind. The contrasts and differences that I haven't
seen in other places. The variety in nature is something
that is very much a part of me and something that I like to
take into account as far as possible in any building that I
do. So that certainly is an influence of a California that
I grew up in.
STONEFIELD: Did you feel growing up in California was
different from the standpoint that man was a relative
newcomer to the area?
HARRIS: Well, I think so. Because we thought of nature as
there first, and, although there was great development
there, the development for the most part hadn't been at the
expense of the environment. We were building and doing
purely man-made and artificial things within the natural
setting, but it didn't seem to be destroying the setting as
a whole in any way. It was a gentle nature to begin with
that one could expose himself to, didn't have to protect
himself from. And it wasn't a nature that had to be
dominated. VJe didn't feel that we had to tame it. It was
something that didn't require taming. It was simply
something to accomodate oneself to and to develop in what
he built as a means of making more complete and general
living possible, but not something to be excluded in any
important way. We thought of it then, or a little bit
later, as a place and a climate very similar to the
Mediterranean, but, as I discovered later, it's really more
South Seas than Mediterranean.
TAPE NUMBER: III, SIDE ONE
AUGUST 22, 1979
HARRIS: Well, this nature was not only various, in great
variety, but it could be very gentle and it could be very
STONEFIELD: The buildings didn't need to be in any way
protecting man from a hostile environment.
HARRIS: No. They didn't exclude so much. You provide
some shelter from sun and some from rain, but you didn't
close it all out. It was still out there, close by.
Sometimes nature could be brought in and the two
interlocked, but one didn't feel that he was shut off from
it. He didn't feel that it was something to be excluded,
something that he needed to protect himself from. And the
fact that it was so abundant made him eager to share in it.
This was something I think that the settlers early
discovered, this variety and the opportunity for what could
be done--and, if you had some water--for what more you
could do. This allowed these new settlers to consider how
their new life there could be a more abundant life. With
such nature and such opportunity they luxuriated in this
abundance. Their minds, then, were more on the new things
they could do as a consequence of all these new things they
discovered, and not so much upon reproducing or holding on
to the older things that they had been simply on the east
coast of the United States or whether it had been in Europe
or, in some cases, of course, even the Orient. These
settlers were from many parts of the world. They were
there because they wanted to be there, they weren't born
there. With the exception of a few Chinese coolies who may
have been shanghaied and brought there, the others were
there because they wanted to be there. Many of them came
there to escape something. Many of the Germans, in
particular, and Central Europeans came there after the 1848
revolution throughout Europe, and were there because they
were democrats escaping from an antidemocratic homeland.
And others were there, of course, on account of the
economic opportunities there. Gold was discovered and that
brought many. Most, however, were from other parts of the
United States. Silver, however, brought others, it brought
many from England. It brought people who were capable of
more than simply panning gold, wielding a pick or doing
something of that sort. These were business minds, largely
because silver mining became a much more technical thing
and it involved much planning. And although the silver
wasn't in California, it was in Nevada, that wouldn't make
any difference. In effect, Nevada was a suburb of San
Francisco at that time. And so that [inaudible]. What was
his name? Schliemann? Anyway, this is the man who was
largely responsible for the excavations in —
STONEFIELD: Schl iemann , Heinrich Schliemann, wasn't it?
HARRIS: Schliemann in Crete. He came to California to
hunt for his brother who had disappeared there and who, I
guess, had come for gold or silver. He stayed to make a
fortune in silver and then used his fortune for these other
things. Then there were all sorts of other persons there
who became philanthropists in various ways. [Leland]
Stanford, the founder of Stanford University, of course
made his money in railroads, I guess almost entirely.
STONEFIELD: Did these people view this California that
they came to in a romantic way or were they basically
interested in things that functioned and were practical?
I'm talking about buildings and —
HARRIS: Well, I think they very quickly became rather
idealistic when they discovered the kind of life that was
possible there. And most of them then used the means, the
wealth, that they acquired there to a very large extent to
develop those things. [James] Lick with his observatory —
Well, there are lots that I can't remember, but they stayed
there too. They didn't take their money and go away, for
the most part. They were struck by the kind of life that
could be lived there. They saw it as a place in which the
future could be realized here and now. It wasn't perhaps
heaven on earth, but it approached that as compared to many
other places. I realize I'm idealizing all of this too.
but, anyway, it's that idealization that sticks in my mind,
and, I suppose, affects what picture I have of building and
development of all that goes with building.
STONEFIELD: I'm thinking of the fact that the California
bungalow, for example, was an attempt to provide a good
kind of a life for ordinary people. You know, it was like
a prototype for that.
STONEFIELD: And the fact that Schindler's house, for
example, had all of these health features to it. All the
sleeping porches and the connections with the outdoors were
an attempt to make life better for people. Was it in
answer to what these people were seeking when they came to
HARRIS: Yes. Now, the native Californians lived in a very
simple way. They lived largely outdoors, usually around
the court, [with] a sheltered space made by extending the
roof of the building over a portion of the court. And they
went into the real interior probably only at night and on
other occasions. What building had been done of a more
ambitious nature in the case of the missions, which pretty
much followed the same thing, too, was done with more
permanent materials than many of the California houses.
This was the background, and was certainly the
background of Mr. Bandini, who was the very early client of
Greene and Greene, who came to them with a request for a
California house. They asked him, "Well, what do you
consider a California house to be?" And he described ]ust
this thing. It was done with redwood boards, which was the
simplest thing that they could find. It was not very
large, but it was largely open to a court. It was enclosed
partly by building, partly by garden wall. And it was
probably in this building that they saw the particular
character that a California building might have, because
their Georgian work — and that was what their earlier work
there had been — certainly hadn't found any point of design
departure, really. They had made the eaves a little wider
and a few things like that. But the Bandini House was a
real eye-opener to what a truly simple house in California
might be. Jean knew the son of Bandini. An interesting
thing, too, is the fact that Charles Dana, the Two Years
Before the Mast man, visited California, and he reported on
California. And he spoke of the primitive character, the
rather low-class character, judging from the tone of his
remarks, of Calif ornians , and he used Mr. Bandini as an
example of that particular low-class character, or at least
the low estimation in which he held them.
There was some tradition of wood building of the very
simplest sort, and the board and batten building was
that. I can remember when I designed the Chinese
restaurant, I used something that was still called
"California construction." It was then illegal according
to the requirements of the building code at that time, as
it was the vertical boards which actually carried the
load. I saw quite a number of early houses that were built
of wide vertical boards, their ends resting on the floor
nailed into the side of a floor plate and carrying another
plate at the top where the rafters began. A single two-by-
four formed a girt around the building midway up the wall,
usually right underneath the sill of the window. This
single board wall carried all the roof load and was an
extremely simple thing. No further material or space was
necessary. At that time insulation for coolness was the
only thing that they really thought much about, and we got
that by shade and ventilation. So, I think this
"California house" had a great deal to do with the
beginning of the Greenes' interest. The California
bungalow as it developed was influenced very much by this
early Greene and Greene work, although most of those who
designed them and built them and lived in them had no idea
who Greene and Greene were or had ever heard their names.
STONEFIELD: Had you ever heard their names by the time you
got — ?
STONEFIELD: You never had. Had you seen any of their
HARRIS: I think I had, but I hadn't inquired. And I
didn't think of this as architecture, you see. This was
the surprising thing. This was just natural building, that
was all. And I liked it, I preferred it and disliked so
much of the pretentious, largely Georgian, at least in its
reminiscences, that we had there.
STONEFIELD: What about other influences before you got to
Neutra, were you aware of architecture as possibilities?
Or weren't there any at that point?
HARRIS: Well, these are the ones that I think of. There
are other things that belong to that period, and have
something to do with the sense of newness, of freshness, of
abundance and of great possibilities, and also the liking
of nature. John Muir had interested [Theodore] Roosevelt,
had started the first interest in the conservation movement
and got Roosevelt to — Maybe not directly, although
Roosevelt and [John] Burroughs and others visited him out
here — in the establishment of the first national forests.
And then there was Luther Burbank, that we all knew very
much about as schoolchildren because of his development of
new species of plants of all kinds. The fact was that many
people, an uncle of mine included, imported seeds from
Egypt and the Mediterranean, which they planted. And
arboretums were established, private arboretums. The fact
that anything, almost, could grow in California if it had
water made them very eager to try all of these things. So
there was a sense that almost anything could be done, that
progress was illimitable. And therefore there wasn't such
complete adherence to the past in all of these things that
there would have been for anyone building in a colonial
part of the country, as the eastern part was and still is.
3T0NEFIELD: Did you know at all of [Louis] Sullivan?
HARRIS: What was that?
STONEFIELD: Did you know anything about Sullivan at that
HARRIS: I had never heard of Sullivan, although I'm sure I
had seen something of his, because it looked familiar to me
when I did see his work later. It was not until, as a
student at Otis, [I] went into the office of the director
on some matter or other, that Karl Howenstein shoved over a
typewritten sheet for me to read. It was something he had
written for a magazine, and the occasion for the writing
was the death of Louis Sullivan. I read it and didn't
forget it, and, less than a year afterward, [Sullivan's]
The Autobiography of an Idea was published. Howenstein
spoke in his piece about the influence of Sullivan. He had
worked for a short time for Sullivan, but in Sullivan's
much later years. He talked, I remember, in this piece for
publication about the influence that Sullivan had on
draftsmen in various offices. So that I had that
knowledge, but I didn't see, even in photographs, for some
time any Sullivan building, and I didn't see an actual
Sullivan building until I went up to Minnesota to see the
Owatonna bank in '57. But I did read The Autobiography of
an Idea, in 1926 I guess. T was very much taken with it
and became a great admirer of Sullivan. And then when I
saw the first Wright building, I thought of Sullivan,
because this is what I thought Sullivan would have done.
STONEFIELD: Did you see other — ? I know that you saw the
STONEFIELD: And the Wendingen.
HARRIS: Yes. Those were the only two books on Wright that
I saw, the only two that I was aware of at that time. I
did see work in some of the magazines. In the
Architectural Record there was a series called "In the
Nature of Materials," written by Wright. It was a
development of something, a further development of
something that he had written in 1908. An interesting
thing is [what] I learned much, much later from Douglas
Haskell, who died only a week or two ago and who was editor
for many years of the Architectural Forum. He had been of
the Record before that, and much earlier than that he had
been the architectural editor, if they could have had one,
of The Nation. He had been sent out by the Record — he was
just a free-lance writer — to interview Wright for this 1928
series called "In the Nature of Materials." One of the
stories he told me that I remember so well was that he was
walking around the garden there at Taliesin with Wright.
There were some visitors coming, hopefully a client, later
in the day. He remarked that Wright reached up and pulled
some flowers off of a tree and took them out and scattered
them over the water in the pool there, and then he turned
to Haskell, smiled and said, "Rubbing Aladdin's lamp."
STONEFIELD: What was the direct influence of Wright's work
on you, I mean aside from propelling you into this
interest? How did it affect the works that you produced?
HARRIS: Well, first of all, I guess it was the sculpture
of the buildings that struck me so forcibly at the very
beginning. Because here was form that was new and fresh.
It had no associations, there was nothing worn about it.
It was fresh and it was something that T could feel myself
into. I projected myself into these forms, and I couldn't
help but move and stop and turn in rhythm with them. It
was a rhythmic character produced by forms that were fresh
and that spoke to me as forms that had nothing that would
repel me or confuse me with other associations. I think
that is the first thing. And it was the realization that
architecture could be art.
And then I guess plan as form was the next thing that
I first discovered in Wright.. I saw that very clearly of
course in the plans that went with the perspectives in the
Wasrauth publication, and I saw the relation of plan to
outward form in such a very, very clear way there. So I
then felt myself into the form of the plan, the form of the
interior, not simply into the form of the outward mass.
Certainly Wright has been the most continuing and strongest
influence on me as far as plan goes. Plan is form and is
the very beginning and essence of all form it seems to me
in a Wright building. Everything grows out of that. And,
of course, it was the continuity of this, as I discovered,
as I saw more of Hollyhock House, the continuity of a form
idea carried throughout all parts of a building, into all
the details, even into the furniture, movable as well as
built-in. It was the product of one mind, one sensibility,
that produced it.
STONEFIELD: Did you ever meet him?
HARRIS: Oh, yes, but not for many years, and I avoided
meeting him for many years because he was such a god in my
mind that I didn't want to take any chance on finding that
he wasn't a god. So that [in spite of] my first meeting
with a building of his and the continuing influence on all
of my thinking after that, from 1925 until 1940, I hadn't
met him, although I did attend some lectures of his. The
first I remember was, it must have been 1929, because the
drawing, a perspective drawing in color in the
Architectural Record, his Saint Mark's in the Bowery, was
published just at that time. That was very much in my mind
when I went to this lecture, which was in the evening in
the Philharmonic Auditorium with not a very big crowd. Mr.
Wright gave the most persuasive talk. He wasn't arguing
about anything, he was earnestly trying to say something
very, very clearly. He talked very much about Taliesin,
and this only added to my enthusiasm for him.
I don't think that I heard him talk again until, it
must have been 1940, and he was in Arizona at the time
building the — or planning, it never was built — the San
Marcos in the Desert there and of course building their own
camp there. So he was asked to speak at the dedication of
use's new School of Architecture building. This was a very
amusing talk. And he manipulated the crowd so
beautifully. He had driven up himself from Phoenix that
day. He had gone to his son's, Lloyd's house, had bathed,
changed his clothes, had put on a dinner jacket and, with
his glasses on a black ribbon around his neck, he walked
onto the stage in a very jaunty manner. The dean of the
school of architecture there, what's his name, [Arthur
Clason] Weatherhead, must have been forced into having
Wright. He knew very little about him. He had no
admiration for him at all, and he was something of a
dunderhead anyway. He introduced — the president of USC ,
what was his name? [Rufus Bernhard] von KleinSmid, who in
turn introduced Mr. Wright. Anyway, von KleinSmid I'm sure
had not heard of Wright until that morning, and both
introductions were very feeble things. Von KleinSmid was
very much a stuffed shirt in appearance as well as in
action. When Wright rose, he acknowledged the introduction
as by Mr. KleinSmid. He left off the von. Nearly everyone
in the audience I think knew that von KleinSmid's brother,
who was the president of the University of Arizona at the
time, did not use the von. So, anyway, it was a very
amusing talk in which Wright proceeded to tell the audience
that he didn't believe in schools of architecture. And he
went on to tell them why. He said things that began to get
a little bit under everyone's skin. You could just feel
the temperature rising in there. And then, when it got to
a certain point, Wright said something, something amusing,
that just dissolved all opposition, and everything went
back and was fine. And then in a little while I realized
that the same thing was building up again. He did it three
times, and then he said, "Well, the encouraging thing about
this is that I can say what I have said here this evening
and not be thrown off the stage."
Anyway, it was an extremely interesting talk. But I
still didn't go out to meet him, and it wasn't until, well,
it wasn't much later. It was still in 1940 I guess that
Mrs. Paul Frankl called me — it must have been 1940, because
Jean was living up in Berkeley at the time and the [Weston]
Havens House was under construction — and asked me to come
to dinner that evening. She said, "Mr. and Mrs. Wright and
lovanna are coming to dinner, and I want you to pick them
up at the Beverly Hills Hotel and bring them." Well, this
was quite a long while ago, and I had an old DeSoto
roadster. DeSoto was made by Chrysler at that time, and
this was a roadster, a blue roadster in two tones of
blue. It had a rumble seat, but there was no cushion in
the rumble seat, and the front door on the right-hand side
had a tendency to fly open when I made a left turn rather
quickly. The idea of having Mr. and Mrs. Wright and
lovanna all in the front seat with me just paralyzed me.
At this time, if you rented a car you rented a seven-
passenger limousine with a driver in uniform. That is, the
driver himself came along, and it didn't occur to me that
you could rent just a car. So I told Mrs. Frankl that I
couldn't do that, but that I would be pleased, very
pleased, to come to dinner. She had begun by saying, "I
know your feeling of reluctance to meet Mr. Wright. But
forget it." [tape recorder malfunction interrupts
Well, Mrs. Frankl asked a girl at the office to pick
them up and bring them, and I went alone and was there
before the Wrights arrived. I stayed in the back of the
room when the Wrights entered. Frankl had started to
introduce me when Wright said, "Oh, I know Harwell," and
came across the room and put his arm around me and said,
"Harwell," he said, "you're a great artist. And someday,
when your hair is as white as mine, you'll be a great
architect." Then he went on to mention two or three
buildings of mine, [at] which I was amazed.
Well, it was a very interesting dinner. V'Je were not
quite in World War II then. And Wright had been talking
against our entering and had been writing what they call
"The Square Papers." But his son Lloyd, with whom they had
been to dinner the evening before, was a very ardent
anglophile, and it turned out during the conversation that
Mr. Wright and son Lloyd had argued until way after
midnight the night before over the war. So when Frankl
asked Mr. Wright some question that touched on the war in
some way, Mrs. Wright immediately interrupted and said "No,
no, no," and then she mentioned this argument that had gone
on so long the night before. So nothing happened.
Well, anyway, after dinner Mr. and Mrs. Laughton--
Charles Laughton, Elsa Lanchester — came in. Wright was
quite familiar with the Laughtons' films, and, I think.
owned a number of them. And Laughton knew VJright at least
by reputation and somewhat by buildings I'm sure. And so
they fell into a very animated conversation. I found
myself sitting with Elsa Lanchester and Mrs. Wright. Elsa
Lanchester I had not only seen in some pictures, in Henry
VIII she was, was she Anne of Cleves?
STONEFIELD: I think so, yes.
HARRIS: And then at the Turnabout Theater which at that
time was very new, and where she used to give some
performances and readings, things that were hilarious.
Anyway, very soon in their conversation, Mrs. Wright,
probably just to make conversation, said something about
the weaving, the handweaving that they did at Taliesin, and
Elsa Lanchester made some very disparaging remark. It
turned out, I discovered later, it was because as a very
poor girl, in a very poor family in London, she had to wear
handwoven things. Anyway, each one turned her back on the
other very quickly. So then I had to move over to the
other group for conversation. [laughter] Laughton was
very pleasant. He had some Renoirs, and when I mentioned
my admiration for Renoir he immediately invited me to come
see his, gave me his unlisted number. But I never went,
for some reason I cannot understand. Anyway, it was an
extremely interesting evening. [tape recorder malfunction
Let's see. Oh, yes. Charles Laughton. Well, anyway,
it was very pleasant to watch two persons who admired one
another in different fields, where they could admire one
another without any difficulty, doing so. I saw Mr. Wright
a number of times after that. During the war, when we were
in New York, I had lunch with him and Howard Myers once.
That was when they were making the preliminary plans for
the Guggenheim Museum. Mr. Wright invited us to stop at
Taliesin on our way home to California, so we spent a
weekend there with Mr. and Mrs. Wright at the end of
1944. Then, let's see, I saw him again in Mexico City — in
about 1952 I think — at the Eighth Pan-American Congress of
Architects there and asked him to talk to the twenty-one
students from the University of Texas that I had with me.
He was very obliging, posing in pictures with them. And
Gropius would not, he was there too.
STONEFIELD: \^y was that?
HARRIS: I don't know. Just the difference in the two
persons. Then I introduced Wright at a meeting in Houston
a little bit later. The meeting was the National
Convention of the Cut Stone Contractors and Quarrymens
Association. The public relations firm for it had decided
that they should try to interest the architects in this and
that the easiest way to interest the architects would be to
have Mr. Wright talk. So they got him down there for that
and then they proceeded to invite the deans of all of the
schools of architecture, all five of them, in Texas, to
come as guests and bring their senior classes. And so I
went down. Before I left, Karl Kamrath, who knew Wright
and was very much influenced by him, called me and asked me
to stop by their office and we would go to lunch together
before the meeting. When we were in the car headed for
lunch, he informed me that I was to introduce Mr. Wright.
I gave up all thought of what I was going to eat or what it
would taste like, trying to think of what I was going to
After lunch we went up to Mr. Wright's room, it was in
the Shamrock Hotel. The Shamrock Hotel had been the scene
of the AIA [American Institute of Architects] National
Convention a few years before when Mr. Wright was given the
AIA Gold Medal, and Karl Kamrath had driven Mr. Wright out
to the hotel on that particular occasion. It was in the
evening. The hotel was outside of town a bit. And Karl
said, "You see the lights over there, Mr. Wright? That's
the hotel we're going to." Mr. Wright looked and he said,
"I see the sham, but where's the rock?"
Anyway, the town and the newspapers in Houston, were
still buzzing with some of the insults that they felt they
had received at the hands of Mr. Wright when he was there
on that occasion, and so the headlines in the paper had to
do with Mr. Wright on this particular earlier occasion. I
remember the hat-check girl in the lobby of the hotel, when
we were waiting for something and Mr. Wright insisted on
walking up and down the room with his arm around ray
shoulder and his cane up in the air. The hat-check girl,
when we stopped to talk to her, was very eager to talk to
Mr. Wright. She had no prejudices against anything that he
had said at all.
But anyway, we went up to Mr. Wright's room. Just as
we got to the room, the door opened and out he came, and he
said he thought he should have a shave so he was going down
to the barbershop. So we went down to the barbershop and
sat there while he had a shave. And then he said, "I
ordered some coffee sent up to the room, so I want to have
that first." So we went back up to the room. He had
ordered a lemon with the coffee. Well, neither the coffee
nor the lemon came. So after a while he called again, and
then he said, "Harwell, you're too young to introduce an
old man like me. I'm going to introduce you, is that all
right?" And naturally I said yes, wondering what he would
say. Well, anyway, the coffee and the lemon did come. He
explained that Gurdjieff had told him that if you took
lemon with the coffee the coffee wouldn't hurt you. While
we had been sitting in the barbershop, the loudspeaker had
announced that everyone was to go into the Shamrock Room
and Mr. Wright would be along shortly. It was then rather
late even then. It was forty-five minutes later I guess
when we finally got there. The place was filled, and we
went up onto the small platform. The president of the
association introduced the chairman, and the chairman then
proceeded to introduce me. And as I got up, Mr. Wright got
right up with me and put his arm around ray shoulder, his
cane straight up in the air. Lockstep we walked up to the
center of the podium, he brought his cane down quite hard
and then proceeded to talk about me. And everything he
said was correct. That was the amazing thing. He didn't
say University of Houston, it was the University of
Texas. And the other things were all quite correct. But I
had of course prepared my introduction, so, when he was
through introducing me, I introduced him. And as I would
mention certain things, Mr. Wright would bang his cane on
the floor and he would say, "He's talking about Gropius" or
"He's talking about Le Corbusier" or something else, making
it a very interesting occasion.
STONEFIELD: Did you like that?
HARRIS: Yes, I liked it. I was prepared to like anything
he did. Well, anyway, the Houston chapter of the AIA, when
it found that Mr. Wright was going to be in town, moved the
date of its monthly evening dinner to the date Mr. Wright
was to be there and asked him to speak. Well, he wasn't
ery eager to do that. He wasn't being paid for that. And
so he spoke for not more than fifteen minutes at the most,
and then, without sitting down, he just picked up his hat
and coat and started out. But before he had gone very far,
the president of the chapter was saying to the audience,
"I'm sure Mr. Wright will be glad to answer any questions
you may have." Mr. Wright was halfway to the door by that
time, and he turned around, still clutching his cane and
coat and hat, and said, "If they're intelligent
questions." There was great silence.
But one young fellow who wrote specifications for
Mackie and Kamrath stood up and said, "Mr. Wright, I think
I have an intelligent question."
And Mr. Wright stopped and looked at him and said,
"What is it?"
He said, "Mr. Wright, what is your religion?"
Well, Mr. Wright turned around, came back, put his hat
and coat down and talked for half an hour I think, and it
was a really good talk. We wouldn't have had a good talk
at all if it hadn't been for that question. He thought
that it was a serious question and he gave it a serious
answer. And so many of the things that Wright has said and
done were [done] simply so that he didn't have to listen to
someone's foolish remarks and questions. And, well, then
I've seen Wright on other occasions too, and I've had some
correspondence, Christmas cards and things from him. So,
from being a god that I keep on a pedestal so high that we
don't communicate except by buildings and things like that,
he became more than that, and when —
TAPE NUMBER: III, SIDE TWO
AUGUST 23, 1979
STONEFIELD: You left off yesterday talking about your
experiences with Frank Lloyd Wright, and before we go onto
anything else I have a question to ask you. You made a
very tantalizing comment in the first session about the
fact that as far as you were concerned all the work after
1923 that he did wasn't anything to you compared to the
work that he had done prior to that. And I wondered if you
could tell me a little bit more about that.
HARRIS: Well, really I would not feel that we had
undergone any great loss in the quality of his architecture
if he had done nothing after 1909. To me everything really
important had been done, at least in the materials and with
the clients and the building situation at that time. In
later work it was simply a translation to a later time with
different materials and a different class of client that
really makes the distinction. As far as any real change in
either form or material that occurred after that, the
textile block is the thing that stands out in my mind. It
was what he used in California, immediately after his
return from Tokyo, first with the Millard House and then
with the Stoner House and then with the Freeman House and,
still a little bit later, still in the early 1920s, with
the — what's the name of the shoe manufacturer, although he
wasn't that — the large house up on the hill —
STONEFIELD: Ennis, the Ennis?
HARRIS: The Ennis House. Those were all very exciting
things to me. They were buildings in which one is less
conscious, perhaps, of the form of the life to be lived in
them as a determinate of the building than of the process,
material and process, itself. I think it further
demonstrated the necessity of having something very
definite and particular on which to begin a design. And if
you don't have a client that is particularly interesting
and interest [ed] in the design program and things of that
sort, then a system of construction or a material can be
very valuable. That, of course, was true in the earlier
work of Schindler, where systems of construction were the
starting point. And in all cases, and particularly in the
case of Wright, no matter where he started, the design
spread to take in all sorts of other particulars which
arose and didn't make it any less livable, any less
suitable for human occupation and use, and yet never seemed
to be the beginning point.
Anyway, the freshness of the design was partly due to
the newness of the textile block system, which he didn't
invent. It was really invented by Walter Burley Griffin,
the architect who worked in Wright's office in the very
early days, and who later married riarion Mahoney, and who
won the competition in 1913 for Australia's ne\>/ capital
city, Canberra. He called his unit "Knit-lock." Anyway,
this was something new, and the use of the small unit was
important not only as a structural but also as an
Except for the Guggenheim, I can't believe that the
other later work added anything particularly to it. And I
think the fact is that it became more and more the work of
a fellowship that never seemed able to really invent, but
only to elaborate on what Mr. Wright had already done, and
elaboration that impressed one more as mere elaboration
rather than something truly simple yet highly decorative.
I would not feel that architecture had lost very much if
there had been no work after that.
STONEFIELD: I wonder if he had the same quality as a
teacher as I^eutra seems to have had in inspiring his
disciples to go out and develop their own talents to any
HARRIS: Well, I don't know. In each case the teaching was
incidental to the disciples watching and helping in the
development of a design idea that the architect, whether it
was Wright or Neutra, was engaged in. As I remarked, I
think in connection with the airport competition, our
learning was in being ringside watchers and participants in
the leader's thinking. Although we were not the leaders in
the thinking, we were there to watch and hear Neutra weigh
the factors to be considered in any decision and had the
feeling that we were engaged in that thinking, participants
in it and contributors in some small way, too. Anyway, it
was a way to follow through the development of a design
from the inside in a very, very rapid way and an exciting
way. It was so very different from learning in the
customary school of architecture, whether it's Ecole des
Beaux-Arts or [some] other in which students work
individually on projects of their own to later submit to a
jury, having only occasional conferences with the
instructor. Working on one's own is good, but it takes ten
times as long to go as far. It depends, of course, very
much on who the architect is. One has to be enthusiastic
about the architect, not just as a teacher but as a
designer. One understands what he does because you see it
born before your eyes. You're not simply looking at
something completed and without understanding all of the
considerations that went into making it. And I think that
one is then much less inclined to look upon it simply as a
finished, completed form, standing alone, something born
full-blown. Here one sees how it developed, realized it
could have gone this way or that way, that this was just
one of a number of possible solutions, all of which might
have been equally good. This is the reason that I think
this is the best way to teach design.
STONEFIELD: You vrarked during this period with Gregory
Ain. What was the kind of relationship that you had?
HARRIS: Well, our work together was almost entirely on
projects with Neutra. When Neutra was away we worked on
individual projects of our own. I got my first ]ob — This,
however, was after Neutra's return and after Greg Ain had
gone to work for Neutra in his new office, which he built
on his return. Greg lived in a room on the lower floor
there. He was married at the time and housekeeping
facilities there were extremely limited. And Greg worked
there for some time. However, Greg became somewhat
disillusioned with Neutra. He saw other aspects of him.
And he left in, I guess it must have been early in 1933,
the beginning of 1933. And we worked together then.
Because he had no work to begin with, we agreed that each
would help the other, but only the name of the person whose
job it was would appear on the plans. Ain did the working
drawings on the house and shop for the De Steiguers over in
Pasadena. Later he got the Edwards House. However, he
insisted upon doing all the work himself on it. And,
although I followed the design's development, I really
didn't work on it. Our association was more conversation
about the work, criticism of one's work by the other, and
general encouragement of one another, I think, more than
anything else. We enjoyed working together, and I think
that we felt ourselves to be a group of two, quite separate
from everything except Heutra and Schindler.
STONEFIELD: Your styles were different though, your ideas
HARRIS: Yes, that is true. And they became more different
as time went on. Greg had worked some for Schindler. He
had met Schindler even before I had, although he hadn't
worked for him at that time. And I think that continued to
influence him somewhat. I think the big difference between
us occurred in the design of my first job to be built. You
can see in the drawings of two earlier unbuilt projects,
how much more like Neutra and Schindler and Ain my earlier
designs were. I can probably find a perspective sketch of
an early version of that first project that was built.
And here comes something that really belongs to
influences; not simply persons, but building and loan
companies. When my first project could not be financed,
looking as it did, I proceeded to change the material, to
change the shape of the roof, and to change the
specifications of what went inside. It was a change that I
was able to make because it was changing to a roof that
resembled a Wright roof and made some of the other features
of the house now look a bit more like Wright. It was not
either Spanish or Georgian and yet it looked more like a
house, and it was acceptable to the Pasadena Building and
Loan Company. And, particularly in those days, banks and
loan companies had a very strong influence on the design of
buildings, particularly residential buildings.
STONEFIELD: Were you and Ain different right from the
beginning in your attitude towards the aesthetics, or did
you diverge at some point because of something that
HARRIS: I don't think so. I think we had sort of
suppressed the differences. Although Ain admired Wright,
his work never showed, at least in its outward form, any
real Wright characteristics. In planning I think there was
something of the sort. And although my first love and
strongest love is for Wright, rather than for TJeutra,
still — as I think I remarked — at the time, Neutra, whom I
very much admired, was present in the flesh and I was able
to follow him and enter into his work. It was easy for me
to devote myself more fully to his manner than to
Wright's. But after I had been away from Neutra,
gradually, not suddenly but gradually, I found more things
of Wright creeping back in.
It was a very fortunate circumstance that I had Neutra
rather than Wright at the beginning, because I might have
become so overpowered by Wright's personality that I would
have not have escaped and would have become simply one of
the apprentices. And I'm very glad that it came in this
order. In my later work there is very much of both Wright
and Neutra, and yet I think what I chose went together
without any difficulty. There were no contradictions, and
what was selected of each combined easily with the other.
3T0NEFIELD: In other words, you were free to pick and
choose what went into your frame of reference.
HARRIS: Yes. And when you reach a certain point, somehow
you don't think you're picking and choosing. It is just
that one thing comes up in combination with something else
or calls in something else. And it happens without your
really stopping to think of where it comes from or thinking
whether these are compatible or incompatible ingredients.
STONEFIELD: Were you aware at all of the work of Irving
HARRIS: I became aware of it first of all through comments
by Neutra who had discovered Gill. I think Neutra's
discovery was on some visit of Neutra and Wright together
to something of Gill. Anyway, I can remember Neutra's
remarking that he had told Mr. Wright that Gill was someone
that should not be overlooked, that he was very important
and they should make more of it. Gill had worked for
Sullivan in the earlier days when Wright was also there.
STONEFIELD: Oh, they knew each other.
HARRIS: They knew one another. Gill had come to
California earlier. That is, he had come to stay. And the
fact that Wright already knew him probably caused Wright to
dismiss him more readily than he would have otherwise.
Gill was no discovery to him. But Neutra was very much
struck, principally by the fact that here was an American
architect, a contemporary of Loos, whose work resembled
Loos's in its great simplicity of form. The flat, unbroken
wall, the flat roof, and the apparent devotion to form that
expressed only the needs of the space enclosed or the
The one thing that perhaps bothered him some was the
fact that Gill oftentimes used the arch form. This was
probably a wise thing as far as attracting clients is
concerned, because that was one feature that distinguished
the Mission-style work, which was not considered modern and
therefore acceptable. I think it was a very good
feature. It was something that I've always admired in the
missions. The repetition of the form. It's a unit that is
repeated and repeated and so the box loses something of its
boxiness. I think it also takes on a more human scale, and
it provides a horizontal movement that simply squares
punched in a flat surface do not.
STONEFIELD: Were you aware of the Dodge House?
HARRIS: Yes. The Dodge House. Then I saw the La Jolla
House for the newspapers heiress, Ellen Scripps. I was
already rather interested in that because, when I was a
student-life reporter at Pomona, I was assigned to
interview a faculty member of the building committee for a
new biology building that Miss Scripps was giving the
college. She gave some other things later. So perhaps I
first heard of her there. I may have seen her house in La
Jolla and then the Bishop's School there on my first trip
down to see the bungalow court, Pueblo Ribera of
Schindler's. I don't know whether it was at that time, but
I saw the Scripps House quite early and I was interested.
But I wasn't as overpowered by it as I was by Wright, and
at the time I was perhaps more interested in the newness
that I saw in Schindler and Neutra.
STONEFIELD: You didn't know Gill?
HARRIS: I never knew him. With Greg, T remember visiting
a small apartment building in Santa Monica. We were inside
the building. It was the first Gill building I had been
inside of and I know I was rather struck by the way windows
were used. And then later, this was quite a little bit
later I think, I saw the — Oh, what was that, rather larger
court, it was housing, presumably for lower middle-class
workers. It wasn't Sierra Madre, where was it, it was
STONEFIELD: Was it Pico Rivera? Something like that?
HARRIS: I don't know what it's name was. Yes I do. It's
STONEFIELD: I know which ones you're talking about.
HARRIS: I remember Fritz Gutheim, the architectural
writer, the critic among other things, wanted to see it,
and so we went out together to see it. I don't believe
that I had seen it before that time. So I was aware of
Gill, and I admired what I saw. I wasn't as emotionally
aroused by what I saw as I was by the best of Schindler and
Neutra and, of course, Wright. But he was certainly one to
be respected and, as anyone at that time who seemed to be
somewhat free of the prevailing traditions, he interested
STONEFIELD: How did you come to begin your own practice,
to leave Neutra and go out on your own?
HARRIS: Well, that simply happened because while Neutra
was away I acquired a client.
STONEFIELD: How did that happen?
HARRIS: Well, my best friend got married. That's the way
such things oftentimes happen. He had been a fellow
student at Otis. He married. His wife was somewhat older
than he. She was the buyer for the French Room at the new
Bullock's Wilshire. But, as far as taste in architecture
was concerned, maybe in other things, too, it was largely
the husband's in this case. He was making very little
money as a sculptor, practically nothing at all, and he was
working for the Paul J. Howard nursery at the time.
STONEFIELD: What was his name? Your friend?
HARRIS: Clive Delbridge. He was a Canadian. He and I and
one other sculptor, George Stanley, were a trio. George
continued as a sculptor, and, unfortunately, the piece of
his that is best known is that very ugly Oscar statuette.
He did a number of things at the time that may have brought
him that job. He was doing a portrait, I remember, of the
daughter of an MGM producer. And he got involved in some
other things at the studio and — What was the name of one
of the most prominent directors — Cedric Gibbons, who
fancied himself something of a sculptor and made a rough
sketch of what he wanted George to make. I can remember
when George was working on it, and I can remember my
criticisms of what he was doing, which he did not deny at
Anyway, the three of us, throughout two years of Otis,
saw a great deal of one another. Clive and I read a great
many things together, at least we were always telling one
another of some book and recommending to the other what we
were reading. So it was natural that he would want a house
by me, and so this was the way it started. In addition to
his taste, which was influenced very much by the oriental,
principally the Southeast Asia sculpture — India, Bali,
Java, and what's the country that was overrun by the
HARRIS: Cambodia. We were both very much struck by
Cambodian sculpture. I can remember our reading many
things together. I can remember reading Count [Herman
Alexander] Keyserling's Travel Diary of a Philosopher.
STONEFIELD: Did you feel particularly drawn to the
HARRIS: Yes, very much so. As sculpture, I think it
interested me, perhaps more than any other. We were both
of us, and I, especially, I suppose, influenced by European
moderns to some extent, [Aristide] Maillol in particular,
also [Georg] Kolbe, I can't think of the others right
now. Not very much by [Alexander] Archipenko. I think we
both found ourselves more impressed, more emotionally
involved, with Asiatic art. I was very taken by the
Chinese. Perhaps the Chinese drawing had a great deal to
do with this, but so had Chinese sculpture. I think I
mentioned in our first talk the General Munthe collection
of Chinese work that came to the museum [Los Angeles County
Museum of History, Science, and Art] and that I studied and
enjoyed for guite a long while. Anyway, this was--
STONEFIELD: I was just going to ask when you first became
aware of oriental architecture and involved with that?
HARRIS: I don't think I can remember the exact time. I
suppose that it may have been the Japanese house, first.
But so much of this acquaintance was through books, rather
accidental juxaposition of books, whether in a library or
in a bookstore, that led from one thing to another.
Anyway, Clive and I shared these enthusiasms. The Lowe
House, which was my first house, was influenced first of
all by Frank Lloyd Wright's plan forms, next by Neutra or
Schindler exterior developments — which were later dropped
in favor of an exterior that resembled much more Wright's
work, as far as roofs go — then by Japanese interiors with
their simplicity and sliding panels, and matting on the
Now, with this part of the Japanese we're getting into
something else you asked about and that is Carl Anderson's
influence. Carl Anderson, whom I had met along with others
who were a part of the S. MacDonald-Wright group, which was
called the Los Angeles Art Students League — and, in
passing, let me remark that S. MacDonald-Wright at that
time was very much interested in Chinese painting — It's
these asides that get me off track and I have trouble
remembering where I was-- Oh, yes, Carl Anderson was a
member of that group. He was furniture designer at the
time. But he had built a little house for himself. He had
remodeled a little mountain cabin built on a hillside on
the same hillside in Fellowship Park in which my own house
was later built. In fact my first acquaintance with
Fellowship Park was visiting him. He was finishing work on
this cabin. He was gradually changing it from this rough
stone and wood cabin of very nondescript design into a
Japanese building. He was using this matting on the
floor. It was not a Japanese matting. I mean it was not a
traditional Japanese matting. These squares were made in a
number of places at that time. The best were made in Japan
out of the sea grass, others were made out of hemp in the
Philippines, and still others, exactly the same form and
size, were made in the Caribbean, and the Caribbean is the
poorest quality of all. Anyway, this was a way of covering
the floor wall to wall in the same way that Japanese
matting would do. It was very inexpensive at the time, we
could buy it for ten cents a square foot. And you could
walk on it in shoes with heels, you didn't have to take
them off as you would with a Japanese mat. So it was a
practical thing. It was a very attractive thing. It was
exactly a foot square, it could work in with my unit
system. At that time I was using a three-foot unit, which
was exactly the width of three squares and, incidentally,
the width of the customary Japanese sliding panel. So,
aside from photographs, Carl Anderson's house was probably
the thing that really interested me in the Japanese
house. In plan, it couldn't be as simple as it would have
been if he had started from the beginning. And I proceeded
to be perhaps more simple in my plan than he could be. It
was because he had introduced me to the details of the
sliding panels, to the matting on the floor, and because he
had some chairs that he had designed — And they're right
down there, those two low rattan chairs.
I was designing a room in 1938, or 1939 I guess it
was, for the New York World's Fair. I suppose I was
representing California. They had only twelve rooms
altogether in this "America at Home" exhibition at the
fair. I wanted to use the matting and I wanted to use the
chairs, so I asked Carl Anderson to be associated on it.
He designed nothing for it, except a chaise-longue of
rattan to go with the chairs, and, yes, he designed two
tables (I don't know whether he designed them or I, they
were not his sort of design) and one of them is that old
wreck that is out there in the garden room now. These were
laminated bentwood and there were two of them that went
together. There was some hardware to lock them together,
and that one still has the hardware on the other side of
STONEFIELD: How did you come to collaborate with him on
HARRIS: Well, that was all the collaborating we did. I
wanted to use these things that he had already designed,
with the exception of the chaise longue. And so I simply
gave him credit for it.
STOHEFIELD: I see.
HARRIS: He did not design the room. He designed the
furnishings, which were a very important part of the
room. He lived near me there on the hill during the time
that we were doing this. He sold the place and moved away
later, and we sold and moved away too.
STONEFIELD: But you didn't work with him on the Bauer
STONEFIELD: You didn't?
HARRIS: Again, I used the same matting and sliding glass
STONEFIELD: I see. So you just gave —
HARRIS: And I felt that I owed him the credit for these
particular features of it.
STONEFIELD: I see.
HARRIS: I don't think he ever saw the Bauer House.
STONEFIELD: How do you feel about collaboration?
Obviously you haven't done it very — So that you must not
feel it necessary.
HARRIS: It's a little hard to separate parts of design.
I've never had partners but twice, and neither for very
long. The first one was an engineer in Fort Worth. That
lasted not more than a year, and he didn't attempt to enter
into anything more than the engineering aspect, engineering
and some business aspects. The other was a former student
of mine who was working for me in Dallas in 1961 or '62,
David Barrow. He was a good designer all right, but the
preliminary design and a great deal of the other design was
mine. It's the only way I think that I can work
satisfactorily, and I think it's the best way. It was the
way that I worked with Neutra. I gave myself over
completely with him. I never thought of trying to
introduce anything that I didn't consider was his. And
then when I was away from him, then I was completely free.
STONEFIELD: I see.
HARRIS: But to work for someone and constantly fight that
influence is a very destructive thing I believe.
STONEFIELD: What happened, how did your practice progress
after these initial projects?
HARRIS: Well, very slowly. If I could have one job a year
I was doing pretty good. It was the depression as you
know. The first house was designed in 1933, built in
1934. Then through a friend of mine, a seismologist at the
Carnegie and Caltech seismological laboratory there in
Pasadena, I got a job designing a house for a professor of
economics at Caltech, Professor Graham Laing. The Laings
were friends of the Heutras, and I first met them at
Neutra's, but only once there. I don't think they
remembered me. But I couldn't forget them.
TAPE NUMBER: IV, SIDE ONE
AUGUST 23, 1979
HARRIS: The Laings were friends of the Neutras and I think
the reason that they didn't go to Neutra for a house was
that, although they admired his design, they were afraid
that he would dominate them too much in what they were
going to do. And, as so often happens, you try to take
someone that you think will give you the same thing but
won't force it on you. I've seen this happen. This
happened with me when someone who has worked for me has
been chosen for the same reason. I understand it very
well. Anyway, this was my second house, and I had a little
more money on this. The first house cost $3,720, and the
Laing House cost $5,000 and was perhaps a bit more
Wrightish in its details. The eaves were a little bit
broader, there was a fascia band running around the rooms
at doorhead height, the walls were stucco.
And, then, that summer, after the Laing House was
practically finished, a cousin of mine in Bakersfield
wanted to add a room and do a little remodeling to his
house. So I went up there and spent two or three months
doing that. And then the Lowe House owners — My friend
Clive Delbridge and Pauline Lowe were now separated, and
she didn't like the way the Japanese panels rattled in the
wind, wanted them removed and hinged, screened doors put
in, which I did. The contractor sold me the panels for a
dollar apiece, and with then I proceeded then to design
this little pavilion up on the hill for ourselves.
STONEFIELD: Fellowship Park House?
HARRIS: Yes. And about that time, 1936, I was asked to
design a house for Edward and Margaret De Steiguer. Do you
want to go into the details of these things or not?
STONEFIELD: Well, if you feel that they're particularly —
HARRIS: It was a house on the south side of Colorado
Boulevard, and the little shop that went with it — Even
though it faced on Colorado Boulevard, it was in a district
that was residential, and the planning commission of
Pasadena insisted that it was not for business buildings,
not even this crafts shop that the De Steiguers wanted to
build there in connection with their own residence, which I
was designing at the same time. So we had to get a
variance for that. In working out the shop to make it look
not like a business building at all, I hit on a roof which
I later developed more fully. I brought in lighting
through the roof from the south so that the windows, which
were show windows in the north wall, would not become
reflectors merely of what was passing in the street. And,
to avoid the customary shed roof look, I carried the lines
of the hips up and over with wide ridge-boards, and then
turned the roof down slightly again, paralleling the slope
on the other side, which I liked, which I still like.
So there was no great change happening in these two or
three years. I don't remember immediately what the next
job was, but they came slowly. There was very little being
built that wasn't residential, and I happened to like
residential work. The modernists that I was admiring and
following were residential, at least at that time,
beginning with Wright, and that was all that tJeutra had at
the same time, all practically that Schindler had. So I
became very much settled into house design.
STONEFIELD: Was there a lot of contact between you,
socially and otherwise, and other architects during this
HARRIS: No, hardly at all. I hadn't known them
beforehand. I hadn't come up the usual way, either through
an architectural school, where I would have known others as
students, nor had I worked as a draftsman in anyone's
office. So I knew none that way. All that I knew were by
having them pointed out to me, being told that this
building or that building was by them, and of course
hearing some stories. So, I was quite apart from all of
those, and it was only quite gradually that I came to know
In 1930, well, let's see, in 1930 — Well, let's go
back a little bit. The Lowe House I decided to enter in a
House Beautiful competition. And I won honorable
mention. And, to get photographs for it, Carl Anderson
took me to Fred Dapprich, who had photographed his house.
Dapprich agreed to photograph mine for nothing and to
charge me only if I won a prize. VJell, I won a hundred
dollar prize so I was able to pay him for the
photographs. He photographed most of my work after that.
Then, that same house I submitted to Pauline Schindler when
she was editing a 1935 issue of California Arts and
Architecture devoted to modern work in California.
And then, a little bit later in the year (and this was
what made me acquainted with other architects or made other
architects acquainted with me more than anything else) was
the General Electric competition for the design of a small
house. It drew a great many entries because none of the
offices had any commercial work to do. This competition
was won by two young architects, [Paul] Schweikher and
[Theodore Warren] Lamb, who had built practically nothing
at the time. The plan that they submitted, which was
published in Time magazine when announcing the outcome of
the competition was almost an exact reproduction of my plan
of the Lowe House, even including some just incidental
things like a screening wall that ran out three feet beyond
the intersecting glass wall of the living room, and which
was a hangover from the time when the house was designed
for a wider lot and we had a garage there and the garage
went back three feet further than the living room. When we
moved the house onto a forty-nine foot lot I had to take
off the garage and put it around in front, which improved
the whole thing really. But because the living room glass
then came right to a corner, which I thought was awkward, I
just decided to let that piece of wall remain. Well, even
this was in the winning Schweikher and Lamb design. And
then, more striking still, was in the Time magazine account
of it, which gave two sentences from the winners of the
competition that were word for word from the House
Beautiful publication. There were two publications by this
time. The first was House Beautiful and the next was
Pauline Schindler's —
STOHEFIELD: Her article.
HARRIS: Yes, California Arts and Architecture. Well, a
little bit later when Forum published the whole thing, we
found there were altogether seven sentences taken almost
word for word, as well as the floor plan. So suddenly I
became well known. To have my work stolen was the most
fortunate thing that ever happened to me.
HARRIS: And years and years later I would meet people in
other places, particularly magazine editors, architectural
magazine editors, who would begin immediately talking about
the steal. Anyway, this rather helped.
Now, John Entenza, who was trying to make a place for
himself as a composer of scenarios for the movies and
living in a house that his father owned but didn't live in,
but had to have in this district because he had been trying
for years, and continued for years afterwards, to be
elected to Congress from this particular district. And
John happened to read-- Oh, yes, I've lost another step.
When I saw this in Time magazine-- I saw it because a
friend of mine called me up on the phone and said, "I see
you've won the General Electric competition." This was for
designs, not for things that had been built. And I didn't
think it was worthwhile entering the competition. I knew I
wouldn't win anything. And I said, "Oh, you're kidding."
And he said "No." He said, "You look in the last issue of
Time." So I got a copy and looked, and there it was. I
was convinced then. So then I called George Oyer, who was
the publisher of California Arts and Architecture, and I
told him about this, and wondered if he would be interested
in it. And, although he hadn't been particularly
interested in the house when it was published before in
California Arts and Architecture, he was very interested
now that it had been copied. [laughter] So he decided
that [in] the forthcoming issue, which was just about to go
to the press then, he would include this story. And he set
up two pages, two facing pages, one with their design and
one with mine, and the heading was something about
"California architect wins national competition but" (I've
forgotten) "somebody else wins the money." The S2,000. Of
course, $2,000 was practically the cost of the house.
STONEFIELD: They didn't get to keep the money, did they?
HARRIS: Oh, yes, they did, I'm sure they did. Anyway, he
ran off proof sheets of this and then sent them to all of
the architectural magazines before California Arts and
Architecture was off the press. Neutra, when he saw it,
wrote a letter to the architectural adviser for the
competition who was also the editor of Architectural Forum.
Well, anyway, John Entenza saw this issue of the
magazine, and he was so interested in it that he simply
came to see me. And it wasn't until, well, at least a year
and a half later, that he came back, this time to ask me to
design a house for him.
STONEFIELD: What kind of a person was he? How did you
feel about him?
HARRIS: Well, he wanted to be a writer. He v\7as a
graduate, I think, of the University of Virginia, and his
father was an attorney, and, as I think I started to say,
John was living in a house that his father owned. He was
living there rent free. And he was writing campaign
speeches for his father and doing things like this. And he
was a bachelor, remained a bachelor. He was a very
interesting person to talk to.
As a consequence of this bit of architectural and
literary plagiarism, I suddenly became a fair-haired boy as
far as California Arts and Architecture was concerned. And
then when Mr. Oyer died, which wasn't a great deal later,
his assistant, Jerry Johnson took over, and so everything
that I did was immediately published in the California Arts
and Architecture. And then, suddenly, Jerry Johnson was
going to have a baby, and the question was who was going to
run the magazine while she was away. And we suggested John
Entenza. And so he came in as temporary editor and
remained as permanent editor.
STONEFIELD: And acquired the publication?
HARRIS: Yes. This is something that I don't know how much
I can truthfully say. He acquired it with very little
money, just as he built his house with very little money.
Largely on account of the pressure that his father, and
particularly his father's partner, a young woman, I've
forgotten her name for the moment, for whom I also designed
a house which wasn't built. For her I did move a house
that IJeutra had built as an exhibition house. Anyway, they
were able to put pressure on various ones, whether it was
on a contractor to build a house for John or on others to
acquire the magazine for him. It was our feeling that
Jerry had really been cheated in this. That caused our
break with John. So when a little bit later he was
starting his Case Study program and asked me to design a
house for the magazine, I refused to do it. We've seen him
occasionally since, once, about twenty years ago I remember
we met at Columbia University, and he was there talking to
Jimmy [James Marston] Fitch. Saw him down here in North
Carolina once. We're on speaking terms, all right, but not
as cordial as we once were. Saw him also once at a
convention in Chicago.
He had ability, there was no question about it. We
were annoyed at the fact that he proceeded to drop the
California part, not only in the name but also as the
primary interest of the magazine. Our feeling was that it
was a regional magazine and that had been its strength. It
had started as a combination of two magazines. One was
called California Southland. I remember the editor of
that, Mrs. Sears. I met her when I was working on the
model of the Lovell House for Neutra and she came over to
see it. It was hard for her to take, to accept the design,
and I can remember her speaking about proportion. She
hoped, of course, that that would save it. She couldn't
see anything else that would. Anyway, these two magazines
had combined, and it was, at the beginning, the official
publication of the Southern California chapter of the AIA
[American Institute of Architecture] . Later it grew strong
enough to do without it, but yet it devoted itself so fully
to California architecture that it was just as good for the
chapter, perhaps even better than the chapter had been
editing it itself.
STONEFIELD: And then he changed the name. Did he change
the quality of it, too, or--?
HARRIS: Well, he wanted to make it an international
magazine, national, anyway, if not international. I can
understand his ambition to do that, but I thought it was a
mistake to do so as long as California was as distinctive
as it was then. We had discovered this when we began to
know the editors of other magazines, of Record and Forum
and directors of the Museum of Modern Art to whom we
introduced John Entenza. It helped him quite a little bit
at the beginning too. These other magazines would spot
things. They very carefully read California Arts and
Architecture, and if you had something in California Arts
and Architecture that was any good, you'd immediately get a
call or a letter from the editor of one of the national
magazines. It fed the national magazines, and it seemed to
me that that was its principal function. It was
distinctive that way. John made a very good magazine out
of it. It finally failed. He telephoned us one evening
here in Raleigh, he wanted to sell it. We weren't
interested then. He knew that we had been very interested
in the magazine at one time.
STONEFIELD: What did you think of the Case Study program?
HARRIS: Well, I think it was a good one. And I don't see
that that was at all in conflict with the California theme.
STONEFIELD: That came after he had changed it, though, and
started to make it more —
HARRIS: Well, it came along with the other changes that
came about, not instantly but rather soon. It must have
been a couple of years at least, maybe more before the name
STONEFIELD: How was he as a client? You designed his
HARRIS: He was a very good client. He was the client I
have quoted as saying — He came to see me about a house and
I took him out to the Fellowship Park House, which wasn't
even built, of course, when the plagiarism proposition came
up. He's a large man, and he looked rather large, and I
don't know whether the floor shook when he walked or not.
But, anyway, he said, "This is the kind of house I don't
want. But if you can design this house, I know you can
design the house I do want." It was a remark that was easy
STONEFIELD: The house that you did design for him was very
different from all of your other things.
HARRIS: Very different, because he said he wanted a
different house. First, it had to be a small house, a very
small house, because he had no money. And it was built of
definitely less fragile materials. It was on a different
site. Whether you could call this more masculine or not I
don't know, but I know that others, [David] Gebhard in
particular, talked about it as an International Style
house. I didn't think of it that way at all, but you can
pick out a flat roof, a plain wall, and perhaps the semi-
circular driveway and the semicircular edge of the roof
over the driveway as International Style trademarks,
although I didn't think of them as that at all.
The curve came entirely from the fact that I had only
a fifty-foot lot. It was on a steep slope, it was at a
blind turn in the street, and it was on filled ground, free
from the Roosevelt [Pacific Coast] Highway, which had ]ust
been finished. We put it partly on stilts and as close to
the street as we could. I didn't want to back out into the
street with this blind turn. With his 1935 Ford you could
make a complete turn in a fifty foot circle if you never
straightened your wheels. So we made a semicircular drive
so you'd come out head first onto the street, onto Mesa
Drive. And then, having made this semicircular drive, it
was just an instinctive reaction to make the contrary curve
in the roof over it. And then that led to a semicircular
end on his bedroom at the back, where you could get a much
wider, a sweeping view down Santa Monica Canyon. I
considered that the flat roof would be cheaper. It also
enabled me to be a little freer with the plan, and it was a
change for a client who was also a change.
STONEFIELD: He must have had very strong feelings about
how he wanted everything to be.
HARRIS: Not a great deal. He was a bachelor. He was
going to do his own cooking. I had a very small kitchen.
VJe had no room for a dining room. We had a living room
that was twenty-four feet long and I think only fifteen
feet wide. And I put the refrigerator in the kitchen up
high. Refrigerators weren't quite so big then, and I
believe we had the compressor and other freezing mechanisms
in the top. Anyway, I raised it up enough so that a table,
a standard height table, could sit in front of it and yet
the door could swing over it. And that table, which I
designed, was the dining table, which was part of the
kitchen when it wasn't used for dining. Then the wall
between the kitchen and the dining room, the whole wall, in
contrast to the other walls, was a wood panel wall, and in
it was a sliding door. So that guests would come into the
living room, see no provisions for dining whatever, and
then, when Entenza slid the door back, here was the table
already set and on wheels, and he simply pushed it out into
the living room. I don't know that there were any other
things that were particularly affected by his way of
living. The living room was not large. We had a very
large hearth to make the fireplace seem even larger. And
vv?e tied into the hearth a built-in sofa, which I also
designed. It could even be used as a guest bed. And above
that we had clerestory openings, quite high up, through
which one could see the line of eucalyptus along the top of
the ridge on the south. And on the north, one looked
through two pairs of sliding glass doors which filled an
eighteen-foot-wide opening. That left three feet at one
end for a glass door which was a hinged with a screen door
over it and could be used for ventilation, and at the other
end the three-foot-wide opening into the bedroom. This way
no screens were necessary over the large sliding door
openings, and they then gave direct communication without
any change in floor level to a deck, which was made up of
spaced two-by-fours which allowed the rain to go through.
The doors were on barndoor hardware, which was very cheap
and had wood which made them much cheaper than the metal
that we would get at that time. So the fact that it cost
only $3,120 isn't so terribly surprising, despite the fact
that it was hillside construction. Anyway, John lived in
it for quite a long while. And then later, Charles Eames
STONEFIELD: Are you thinking of his wife?
HARRIS: I mean the Finn.
STONEFIELD: I don't know who you're talking about.
HARRIS: His father won the second prize in the Chicago
Tribune Tower competition in 1923, came here at the
invitation of an industrialist and established the school
up in r-lichigan. He was a great planner. The son was a
graduate of Yale, designed many things for Yale. He
designed the Dulles Airport. Go on--
STOtJEFIELD: Oh, Saarinen.
HARRIS: Saarinen, Eero Saarinen. I had met Eero Saarinen
when Charles Eames had brought him into the office one day
when he was out there. Eames was designing a studio for
the sculptor daughter of — Oh, what was her name, was it
Annette Kellerman? No, it wasn't. She was a very famous
woman swimmer of the time. Well, anyway, John met Eero
through Eames, who was not living there at the time, wasn't
married at the time, or wasn't married to his later wife
Raye. They did some Case Study houses I think, and then
they ended up by designing a house for John out there in
the canyon, somewhere near Eames 's own house.
STONEFIELD: When you think back on your list of clients,
what characteristics would you say would make a really
HARRIS: Well, a perfect client is an intelligent client
with a lot of imagination who wants a great deal and has
the money to pay for it. [laughter] What I'm trying to
say is that it takes a person who wants more than just what
his neighbor has to make a good client. It takes a person
who makes the architect stretch himself. He needs to want
a lot and he needs to demand a lot. He simply has to
demand it intelligently is all. He comes more nearly to
being a perfect client than the one who says, "Here, you
have this much money, design whatever you want." He's the
poorest client of all because you have nothing to begin
with and nothing to jolt you out of design thoughts or
habits of your own past.
STONEFIELD: What happened — this is a complete change — what
happened, when the Second World War started, to
architecture in Los Angeles?
HARRIS: Well, things didn't close down quite as quickly
there as they did in the East. I can remember various
visitors, architects from the East, such as Carl Koch,
accompanied by his father, who came to see me. Everything
had closed up in Massachusetts sometime before, and they
were very pessimistic. I was still quite optimistic. But,
to most architects, we were still in the Depression. I had
started in the Depression, so depression was normal as far
as I was concerned. I continued the office until it was
quite obvious that things were going to close down
STOMEFIELD: When was that?
HARRIS: Well, we closed the office in 1943. It was
actually when jobs under construction had been entirely
finished. Some had started at the very beginning of the
war. The Havens House was started just before and it was
finished just a week or two before Pearl Harbor, December
7, 1941. And I had under construction at that time the
Birtcher House in Los Angeles, the Lek House in La Jolla,
and the Treanor House up in Visalia. And when those were
done, I don't think I took on any other work, nothing of
any size or interest that I can remember. So we simply
decided to see the East, which I'd never seen, and we went
to new York. We stayed there from about April, 1943, until
about December, end of November, '44. We were there almost
two full years. And by that time, the war was over in
Europe but not in Japan, but it was obvious that it was
going to be over very, very shortly, and I was very eager
to get back into practice.
While we were in New York I was a visiting design
critic part of the time at Columbia University. I worked
half a day most of the time for Donald Deskey, an
industrial designer, on architectural projects, various
ones. The one I think that was most interesting was
designing a utility core. Deskey was convinced that when
the war was over the airplane manufacturers would be
without anything to do. With all their equipment they
should be building prefab houses. He had already designed
a prefab ski shelter that had been an exhibit in the New
York 1938 [actually, 1939-40] fair. "Ski shack" I think is
what he called it. Anyway, he was not busy with the prefab
house. There were two aspects of it. One was the building
itself, the structure, and he had Robert Davisson busy on
that. And the other was a utility core around which the
house would be built.
I came in simply because Howard Meyers of the Forum
had recommended me to Deskey, who put me on a project that
was just starting. Also on this project was Lawrence
Kocher. Lawrence Kocher had been editor of the Record back
in the late twenties and thirties. He was the editor of
the Record when our airport competition was published. He
was also, incidentally, the uncle of the contractor who
built John Entenza's house. Before he had been on the
Record, he had been dean of architecture at the University
of Virginia. He was Swiss by ancestry, although American
born. He was born in Stockton, California. He was an
extremely likeable person. While he was on the Record he
became very interested in the Rockefellers' desire to
rebuild Williamsburg, and he devoted two issues of the
Record to that subject. It was rather strange, because he
was a committed modernist and yet he was quite interested
in this. And when all this was over, later, through with
this work there, he retired to Williamsburg, to some kind
of a job there, and did some further guest teaching I think
in the College of William and Mary there.
Anyway, he had been thinking about this utility core
and decided it should have a prefab fireplace in it, a
woodburning fireplace. I was very skeptical that we could
make a decent plan around the core with a fireplace,
because it meant that we not only had to have a wall of the
core connecting with a kitchen, a laundry, and a bathroom
but also a living room. The circulation problems that one
would get with all of this right there in the middle seemed
too difficult. So I sat down first to design some floor
plans of buildings to go around it, buildings, that might
[be] prefabricated as well. And, to my great surprise, I
worked out three plans very quickly that kept the
circulation outside the center and they all worked fine.
So then I was all for it. I did most of the design work on
it. It became a rather large core because it not only had
to provide for the fireplace, which was recessed in it, but
[also] connections for the kitchen, the bathroom, and the
laundry. But we got them all in. Since it had to have
periphery enough to space all the plumbing fixtures, it was
large. I forgot whether it was eight or ten feet square.
I think we got it down to eight feet. But, anyway, it was
a bit big. We had some vacant space inside, so we put the
water heater and furnace in there. And then, because it
meant not only the fireplace, but the kitchen sink, the
laundry equipment and the bathroom fixtures were in the
building's center, they were far away from any windows in
outside walls. So then the problem was to see if we
couldn't light them through the roof. So around the
chimney I put a light shaft that gave daylight into each of
the four rooms.
Well, the war ended shortly after I got back to
California. I was very eager to get back because I wanted
to get back into building design. I had no sooner arrived
home than Joseph Hudnut, who was dean of Harvard and who
had brought [Walter] Gropius there to begin with and then
[Marcel] Breuer and, what's the name of the planner.
Englishman who had been editor of British Architectural
Reivew, I think he still lives in New Haven, Tunnard,
Christopher Tunnard. Anyway, Hudnut telephoned and offered
me an associate professorship at Harvard. If he had done
that before we left New York for California, I undoubtedly
would have taken it. I'm glad, though, that I didn't,
really, because I did get back into work, and the work I
could do in California I wouldn't have found the clients
for in the East.
And then there was a call, almost immediately after
that, from industrial designer Donald Deskey who said that
he had a client for the utility core. His proposed client,
the one with whom he had been talking all of this time, was
the aircraft manufacturer, Glenn Martin, down near
Baltimore. Anyway, the war was over and Glenn Martin had
plenty of orders for airplanes. All the companies found
that to be the case and they didn't have to go into
pref abrication housing as some of the others like
Consolidated Aircraft [Company] down in San Diego — it later
took another name. General Dynamics, and moved to Fort
Worth. So Deskey had to go elsewhere for a client, and he
went to Borg-Warner, and Borg-Warner ' s subsidiary,
Ingersoll Steel and Disc Company, bought the utility core
des ign .
TAPE NUMBER: IV, SIDE TWO
AUGUST 23, 1979
HARRIS: So I came to a meeting in Chicago with Mr.
Ingersoll, the president of Ingersoll Steel and Disc
Company. We discussed the utility core's influence on
housing, and I was delighted to discover that Mr. Ingersoll
was not interested unless what he was going to build and do
was something that had more than mere commercial value. He
decided that they would build examples of houses using the
core, and we would have a variety of houses. Donald Deskey
chose the architects, and, because I had designed it, he
gave me the largest of the houses to do. It was
unfortunately too large in my opinion, because it had to
have three bedrooms, and you needed more than one bath to
have three bedrooms. However, we went ahead with it.
Others that he had there who designed other ones — Ed
[Edward D.] Stone designed one. He had the smallest one.
He put it up on stilts, and then when it was well along he
said, "Isn't it a shame to waste all of this ground down
here?" So they let him close it in. So his actually came
out to be the biggest. And — What's his name in Midland,
Michigan? His father, or his family is the chemical
company there. Oh, Dow, Alden Dow. There were five of us
I think altogether and the Forum ran a special issue with
all five houses in it.
STONEFIELD: These were never built?
HARRIS: They were built.
STONEFIELD: Oh, they were?
HARRIS: They were built. Mine was built out of very poor
material. It was redwood with a natural finish. The
redwood was full of sap-wood and it looked like the lining
of those old cedar closets with the narrow boards, part red
and part white. I never saw the house after it was
finished, only the photographs.
STONEFIELD: Where was it built?
HARRIS: It was built in Kalamazoo, 'Michigan.
STONEFIELD: We never have really discussed your wife, who
has strong architectural interests. I wonder if you could
tell me when you met her and what her background was?
HARRIS: Well, when I met Jean she was a social worker.
She had done some other things. She had been assistant to
the physician for women at UCLA — then called SBUC [Southern
Branch, University of Cal if ornia] --when it was out on North
Vermont Avenue, and she had worked for the Travelers'
Aid. But she wasn't really interested in any of the work
that she was doing.
STONEFIELD: She had gone to Berkeley she said.
HARRIS: As a student, yes, she had entered Berkeley in
1914, must have been, because she graduated in '19. She
took a degree in economics because she was convinced that
that was something she could never teach, and she was
afraid that if she took something that she could teach she
would end up teaching, which she didn't want to do. She
went to New York directly after graduation from Berkeley,
without even going home. She went to New York with only
thirty-five dollars in her pocket. Her ambition was to
work in every industry in which women were employed and
maybe become the first woman Secretary of Labor. Anyway,
she lived a part of the time with friends, the Gumbergs.
Emma Gumberg she had met when she was in college. Emma had
married a Russian who was an adviser to Chase National Bank
at the time, an adviser on all things Russian. He had
participated in takeovers of banks and all sorts of
things. Anyway, she lived with them part of the time and
part of the time in Greenwich Village. But her great
interest was in the labor movement. She was advised to go
into the garment industry because that was where she could
do the most good. And so that was her interest up until
the time she returned to Los Angeles when she went into
this other work. She was married during this time in New
York to a labor leader. They were no longer living
together. When we met, we were the only two sober persons
at a party and that drew us together. Her interest in
architecture really began after that. She was acquainted
with the Schindlers. But it had been not on account of
architecture, but the Schindlers' parties which included
people of all sorts, radicals of every kind. But the start
of our acquaintance--
STONEFIELD: Was it at a Schindler party that you net?
HARRIS: No. No. I don't think they had any drunken
parties at Schindler's. This wasn't particularly
drunken. I'm trying to remember the name of the girl whose
party it was. Anyway, she became interested in
architecture on account of my interest. VJe were not
married for two or three years. She had met the Neutras at
the Schindlers. In fact, she had met them the second day
after Dione had reached this country. So she really knows
more about the early parties at the Schindlers than I do
because they really preceded my part in them. I had met
Schindler, but I was not in on these other things. Well,
it was really before I met Schindler, I guess, because that
was at least '26, if not the beginning of '27, and it must
have been '25 when Jean first met them.
STONEFIELD: What kind of work did she do when she became
interested in architecture?
HARRIS: Well, she continued as a social worker for the
county of Los Angeles up until the time she gave up work
altogether and we managed to make it on the one commission
a year that I would get.
STONEFIELD: That continued to be the pattern of your
practice, you would have one major thing--?
HARRIS: Well, that was about all. They increased, but
that was about all at the time.
STONEFIELD: Even after your notoriety?
HARRIS: Well, maybe we had two that next year, I don't
know. No one had any work. Work in all of the offices was
very slow, most of them were closed.
STONEFIELD: California architecture during the twenties
and the thirties held tremendous promise, producing a
different kind of building than what was going on in the
rest of the country. David Gebhard, at one point,
commented that he felt it had never really fulfilled its
promise. Do you agree with that?
HARRIS: Well, I — [telephone rings]
STONEFIELD: v;e were talking about your wife, Jean, and her
involvement in architecture.
HARRIS: Well, when we went to New York Jean had nothing
particular to do and she became interested, then, in
food. I don't know what had preceded this to make her
particularly interested in it, not that she wasn't a good
cook. But now she became interested in it as history,
although perhaps not so much at first as history as a
system. When we returned to California, this interest
continued, and Elizabeth Gordon, the editor of House
Beautiful, whom we had met in New York when she published
the Havens House in the summer of 1943, at Jimmy [James
Marston] Fitch's suggestion, asked Jean to consider writing
a column, becoming the first food editor of House
Beautiful. This Jean did for a year and a half or more
from Los Angeles, not from New York. So she had to learn
rather rapidly then. Before we had returned from New York,
Jean remembered a remark of Mr. Walter Webber about Greene
and Greene, and so she decided that we would look them up
when we got back. If they were still alive we would see if
there wasn't something that could be done to give more
recognition to their work. Jean found that Henry Greene
was living in Pasadena with his daughter and [her]
husband. And we called on him. We asked about the
drawings. I think we talked about this once before, didn't
STONEFIELD: No, we talked about [inaudible].
HARRIS: Anyway, we gathered him in the car, he was in his
middle seventies, and we went hunting for the house in
which he had lived before he moved in with his daughter.
It was a house that he had designed for his wife and
himself and his wife's mother. It was a duplex house and
the mother-in-law's part was the largest half of the
duplex. The drawings had just been left there in a cabinet
that was out in the garage. So Mr. Greene got out the key
to the cabinet, and, after wandering around a bit, because
we couldn't find the house immediately, we found it and
went to the door. The woman who answered wasn't very
helpful. Mr. Greene explained that he was the former owner
of the house and that he had left in the garage, when he
left the house, a cabinet with drawings in it that he would
like to have and showed her his key. She said, "Oh, yes,
yes, I remember them. We've been talking about clearing
out the garage and clearing out all those things." So we
were actually just in time. The key fitted the lock.
However, we really didn't need a key because the back was
completely off the cabinet. Water had got in, things were
badly stained, crumpled and mice had got in. And because
mice seem to like paper, they had eaten through everything
that was paper or had paper on the outside. This included
most of the prints, which were paper. However most of the
drawings were on linen, not on paper, and so there wasn't a
great deal that was destroyed. Anyway, there was an
enormous amount of material there. I can't remember the
number of rolls. I can remember the jobs went up into the
four hundreds and something. And I can remember one job
sheet numbered 105. While it was a small sheet it's true
there was a great deal of material and it was all wrapped
in tight rolls. It had the smell of mice that lasted for
years and years, and the car in which we carried it smelled
for years afterwards, too, on account of that. Well, the
older brother —
HARRIS: Charles Greene was living in Carmel at the time,
and so we finally decided that we would like to bring the
two brothers together and, if possible, have a photograph
of them and talk about what might be done with their
material either in magazine articles or a book. And so we
made the trip up there. I had arranged for Edward Weston,
who was living in Carmel, to photograph the two. Cole
Weston actually did the work. We proceeded to visit all of
the Greene and Greene buildings that we could find that
were still standing. In very few were the original owners
still living in them. In fact I'm only sure of one, and
that was the Gamble. Oh yes, there was another, the
Blacker. Then, because Jean was writing architectural
pieces also for House Beautiful, she took this material to
Elizabeth Gordon, and Elizabeth Gordon became quite
interested in it. So I guess the first pieces on Greene
and Greene that had been written in years were these in
House Beautiful. This was followed with articles by Jean
both in the Record and in the Forum.
STONEFIELD: The Greenes had been generally neglected for a
HARRIS: Yes. You see, World War I had closed them out.
There was very little work that was done by them after
World War I. They officially closed their office in
1915. I don't remember just what year Charles moved to
Carmel, but the only thing of any size that he had done
there was the — I don't remember the name of the house. It
was a large stone house, unlike any of their wooden houses
in the south, running down the cliff into an inlet there,
[and with] great buttresses. The original owner was still
there. It's the James House. And that was where we
photographed them together. Then later Charles came down
for a visit, and then one of Charles's two daughters — one
lived in Carmel and was interested in horses and had a
livery stable, and the other was married to a Brazilian.
The second daughter was home on vacation and she also came
down and we had long conversations with her.
STONEFIELD: How were they generally regarded by other
architects and by their families and--?
HARRIS: Well, they were no longer competitors in any way,
so other architects could look upon them with favor. But I
don't think any of them thought of them as being anything
more than simply something out of a past that was entirely
STONEFIELD: Was their architecture considered relevant to
anything that was going on, for example, then?
HARRIS: No, I don't think so at all. Now of course there
were sone others, like [Bernard] Maybeck. But he too was
thought of as almost as much a part of the past, although
he had been more involved with people in Berkeley and this
had kept alive their interest in him. Then there are a few
things, like the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco and
the Christian Science church in Berkeley, which were more
in the public eye than private residences would have
been. So I don't think he was quite as much forgotten as
Greene and Greene.
STONEFIELD: He was still working?
HARRIS: No. Any work that he did was not for anything to
be built at all. I remember Jean visiting him once and he
had his drawing board out in the yard. He lived in a
little house that had been built with walls made with
gunnysacks dipped in Bubblestone, which was a material that
he had suggested to an engineer, with whom I later talked,
as something that might be used as a substitute for wood in
places where wood was no longer available, parts of the
world that he had been reading about. Bubblestone was a
lightweight concrete and, as far as I know, the first of
the lightweight concretes. I first heard about it when I
was designing prefabs, projects only. But I was designing
in every material and with this lightweight material I was
casting thin slabs with metal-lath reinforcing and with
edges of sheet metal that would enable them to interlock
like a tongue-and-groove in boards. After I had heard
about Bubblestone, I wrote to Berkeley to the engineer, and
I was sent five or six little cubes of it, varying in
weight from 30 pounds a cubic foot up to 90 pounds a cubic
foot. Ordinary concrete is 140 pounds without
reinforcement. At this time I had no idea that Maybeck was
involved in it at all.
Anyway, he lived in this little house with walls made
by simply dipping sacks in it and hanging them in shingle-
like fashion over a wood framework where they hardened. He
had a drawing board outside which he worked on, and on this
particular occasion he was making drawings showing the
Palace of Fine Arts loaded on barges and being ferried down
the river for farmers to use. He had no interest in it
anymore, he declared.
STONEFIELD: Farmers to use for what purpose?
HARRIS: Oh, I don't know, barns I suppose. But, anyway,
there was already at that time some talk about preserving
the Palace of Fine Arts, and he refused to get interested
or excited in it. And this was probably just a
demonstration of his lack of further interest in it. Jean
got into the work on Maybeck through Gerald Loeb. He was a
senior vice-president of E. F. Hutton [&] Company and was
living in New York. [He] saw the Havens House in the Forum
when it was published and called George Nelson, who was an
associate editor of the Forum, and asked him to speak to
the architect of that house and ask for permission for Loeb
to see it when he came next to San Francisco. George said,
"Well, you can ask him yourself. He's here in tiew York
right now . "
So he called me and I had lunch with him. He told me
that — But I'm getting into another subject altogether. He
told me, anyway, that he had a farm out in Connecticut near
Redding, and there was an old farmhouse on it, an
eighteenth-century farmhouse that he had remodeled some,
and that he wanted to build a modern house there. He had
written to Frank Lloyd Wright and almost a month had passed
by and he hadn't heard from Mr. Wright. And if Mr. Wright
wouldn't do it would I do it? Actually, I was flattered
with that and said yes, I would be glad to do it if Mr.
Wright wouldn't do it, but, if he could get Mr. Wright, he
surely should, because Mr. Wright wasn't going to live much
longer and it would be worth a lot more if Mr. Wright did
it. Of course 1943 was quite a while before 1959, when Mr.
Anyway, we became well acquainted with Loeb and then
they did get started on this thing. In every trip that
Loeb made to California (he made about four of them a year)
after stopping in Phoenix to confer with Wright, he would
call and stop and see us in Los Angeles. So he kept us up
to date on everything that was happening. And when he
found that-- Oh, yes, and another thing that happened at
this first meeting, Mr. Loeb said, "When I was seventeen
years old, that was in 1917, my mother built a house and
she let me handle all of the negotiations with the
architect. And the architect was Bernard Maybeck." He
said, "It was a very fine house, and I had a great deal to
do with it." Then he said, "But it would have been a finer
house if I hadn't had so much to do with it."
Well, no remark could melt one more than that did me,
and as a consequence of that, I'm sure, he gave Wright a
completely free hand, which was a mistake really. Wright
simply knew that he had a man with a lot of money and a
large site and he simply proceeded to design what he would
probably have done for himself. He included a large
orchard enclosed with a wall, he had stables — and Loeb, who
was crippled from polio when he was a child, never was on a
horse in his life--did all sorts of other things there.
Made a magnificent design, but — And if it could have been
built immediately, it would have been built. But the war
was too far from over for one to have the facilities and
the permission, even, at that time to build something of
that sort. All that you could build, at least in
California at the time, was a house for a veteran, and it
couldn't cost more than 510,000.
So, anyway, that design proceeded at that time. But
when Loeb found that Jean was planning articles and a book
on Greene and Greene, he immediately suggested that she do
the same thing with Maybeck and that he had some money, a
grant he could make for it. His first proposal was to give
the money to the Museum of Modern Art. But Jean objected
strenuously to that. Although we were very friendly with
the Museum of Modern Art, still it was so completely out of
character, its sympathies anyway, with the sort of work
that Maybeck had done that she persuaded him to give it to
the university at Berkeley. And the interesting thing was
that the provost there who was in charge of it was one that
Jean had had as a Latin teacher back before 1919. So, on
the basis of that, she started some research on Maybeck,
too. And I'm quite certain that it was the new interest
that was aroused--an interest not simply in Berkeley, but
nationally--by it that led to Maybeck's receiving the AIA
STONEFIELD: Did this awakening of interest that Jean had
in Maybeck and Greene and Greene affect your work at all?
Or had you already drawn from them in their work all that
there was for you to get out of it?
HARRIS: Well, I don't think there was very much in the way
of particulars. I don't think you could say there was any
in the case of Maybeck that you can point to in the
design. In the case of Greene and Greene I think that
there is. The regard for the site, the interest in the
garden, the attempt to make one as congenial as possible
for the other, these I think, together with perhaps, yes,
I'm sure of this, carrying the stick-and-board character of
Greene and Greene further than I had before.
Along at this time I became very conscious, from the
experience that I had had with what I had built, of the
behavior of wood as the weather works on it, not just its
color, but the way it twists and shrinks, the way parts
separate. And I became very conscious of the destruction
of continuity that is got by simply butting together the
ends of boards ten, twelve, sixteen feet long when trying
to make something thirty or forty feet long. Continuity
would be very much damaged if you see joints opening up and
if two butting boards change color differently and if one
twists this way and the other that way and if the nails
that joined them together mark them with rust. I suppose
in seeing all of the separate sticks that made up a Greene
and Greene house, I realized that the way to get continuity
was to work not with unbroken lines but with broken lines,
broken at regular intervals, and preferably rather small
intervals, then one wouldn't be conscious of the break.
It's simply a step in a journey.
I began playing up individual pieces in other ways as
well. In the Wylie House I carried it to considerable
length. There, above a gable facing south in which I
wanted the glass to go quite high and from which I wanted
to shade the sun without darkening the room too much, I
simply carried on with open rafters beyond the solid
roof. This was a thought that came to me having looked at
Greene and Greene roofs, not with rafters going that way,
but with the ends of rafters sticking out beyond the edge
of the roll roofing at the eaves. I realized that one
could expose structure like that and I simply exposed it
this other way. [telephone rings]
So I found myself thinking always of the structure in
terms of the available lengths of pieces of material, with
the joint between them made a very prominent feature,
located always where it became a part of the design and
making more joints than might be necessary otherwise in
order to make the repetition of the joint an integral part
of the design. This was the way I found I could get
continuity, unlimited continuity, with short separate
pieces of material. There are other ways of course in
which Greene and Greene had an influence on me in addition
to that and the harmony with the landscape. There was also
the unified character of total design, of the imprint of
one mind visible in every part of the building, everything
in the building and in the garden and, in many cases, the
objects selected for it, all the way from rugs and curtains
and fabrics, well, to the piano case which they designed
for the Gamble House.
STONEFIELD: Did you have the opportunity to do that kind
of total design when you were doing residences?
HARRIS: Not very much. First of all, no one had the money
for it. And either they had no furniture, or they had no
money to buy furniture, or they had to use what furniture
they had. Most of my clients in those earlier days were
comparatively young. They didn't have a lot of heirlooms,
and so I was relieved somewhat from that. And I did design
some furniture. I designed some chairs and a great many
sofas and quite a few tables and some movable cabinets.
That's about as far as it went. And they had to be pieces
that could be built in an ordinary mill or by the carpenter
on the job. They were not done by professional furniture
makers, so I learned to think of furniture designed in
terms of that kind of production. And it had the
advantage, I guess, of making the furniture a bit more in
character with the building than it might have been
otherwise. I know in describing Schindler's Kings Road
House, I described the furniture in it as looking as though
it were an offspring of the house. That's sort of the way
it was. You felt that it grew out of the house and wasn't
something that was just assembled in the house.
STONEFIELD: Mrs. Neutra was interviewed as part of this
oral history project and at one point stated that that
house was a house made for an ideal world, not a real
world, and that it was an uncomfortable house to live in
because of the lack of privacy and so on. Did you feel
that way about it or--?
HARRIS: Well, it was designed for a way of living, as well
as a way to get the most for the money, and it fitted in
very fully with Schindler's idea of living. !]ow just
before they built this, RflS [Rudolf M. Schindler] and
Pauline went on a camping trip in Yosemite. They had ^ust
finished, I guess. Hollyhock House. Anyway, that job had
reached a point where they could have their first rest.
And, as you will notice in reading one of the letters in —
STONEFIELD: Esther McCoy's book.
HARRIS: --Esther McCoy's book, the great pleasure they had
in it. Sleeping out in the open in a tent and the
simplicity of life appealed very, very much to them. I
think maybe almost as much to Pauline then as it did to
RMS. Anyway, they came back and decided to build this.
And he describes it somewhat, that is, their decision to
build, in a letter to Neutra written ]ust after that. So
it was to be as simple as could be. Of course it couldn't
be fully built to begin with. They had cloth instead of
glass in the frames making their windows and doors. An
uncolored cement slab was the floor. The bathtub was
simply made out of tar paper, roofing paper, to begin
with. Later they were able to make it out of cement. I
noticed when I visited Pauline about four years ago that
there was tile over the cement tub now. But it was all
extremely simple. Sleeping outdoors was something that
Schindler picked up, I think, from this trip. Anyway, it
certainly determined him to make that a feature of the
house. So the bedroom was what he called a "sleeping pod"
on the roof of the house, and it left the ground floor room
clear then for the work that each was to do in it. That
is, you realize from the description that was given, each
person, RMS, Pauline, and then the other couple that were
there, had his own room in which he worked. There was a
kitchen that was to serve all four of them, and one wife
did the kitchen work one week and the other wife another
week. This was a completely different kind of house.
Now if one tries to live in that house the way he
would live in an ordinary house, it would be quite
difficult. But this simplicity is another feature that it
has in common with the Japanese house. There is form to
living and form to building and they are made congruent.
They have to be forms that don't conflict with one
another. And so the Japanese have a formalism in their
behavior that is simply a part of their joy of living in
the house, in acting in accordance with the forra of the
house. The two forms coincide with one another, and it's
the pleasure of that coinciding, just as two partners in a
dance, the pleasure that they get of moving together. That
was the nature of that house. It was one of the great
pleasures of it, the joys of it, and the thing that a
person who wants to live as he would in an ordinary house
would find infuriating.
To some degree one finds the same thing true in a
Frank Lloyd Wright house. Regardless of how large or
expensive or elaborate it might be, it is designed for a
form of living. And as long as that form is one that you
are in agreement with, that you enjoy following, then the
fact that the house is made for that form means that you
sweep along in it with the greatest of pleasure. And if
you don't do that, then you are infuriated and, as many
clients or residents have done, their anger at the building
and at Mr. Wright is taken out by destroying the building
in all the various ways they can do it, getting back on the
STONEFIELD: Mrs. Neutra also made some kind of a
statement, I believe, that this house was Schindler's
interpretation of what California living was supposed to
be. Do you feel that it was made possible by the fact that
California has a benign climate?
HARRIS: Well, it was his particular form of California
living. And, as I say, his real introduction to it I think
was this trip. Now he had been west once before, he had
been in New Mexico and other parts of the West. I think he
may have come as far as California, but he didn't spend
much time here. And he was impressed with various
things. He was impressed with the largeness and the
openness of the landscape. He was impressed with the
simplicity in form of the native Indian building, the--
TAPE NUMBER: V, SIDE ONE
AUGUST 23, 1979
HARRIS: V^Jhat Schindler discovered in California,
particularly in this first opportunity to explore it, to
see more than just what you could see from the top of Olive
Hill, was this trip. And he never got over it. The
pictures of him when he was a younger man, you see him in a
conventional suit with a stiff collar and a tie and closely
cropped hair. All of this disappeared then. He became
much more casual. There was the influence of the bohemian
crowd, probably, that he was with, but I think it was
primarily the feeling that the natural life, the normal
life here, was one in which buildings and clothing were all
very much simplified. And the fact that he continued to
live in the house until his death, in the way in which he
had originally planned it, convinces me that this was
entirely determined by choice and not by anything else.
STONEFIELD: To what extent do you think this represented
HARRIS: Well, like the landscape, I think California
architecture is an extremely varied thing, much more varied
than it would be in an eastern U.S. or any other climate
where one is much more restricted in what he can do. It's
the extremes of all sorts that are here and all nearby, and
which can be either, at least in one's experience, can be
mixed [or] each can be enjoyed for itself. One doesn't
have to feel that whatever this is, it's forever: it's
from now on, there's no release from it. This, I think, is
a characteristic of California. It was true about the
landscape and the climate. It was true in the earlier days
about the people, because they too were extremely varied.
It was a very cosmopolitan place. Everyone was new
there. IIo one was born there. They came from such a
variety of racial and national and social and economic
backgrounds and they were all there because they wanted to
be there. And most of them were delighted with what they
found there and they were eager to exploit it and make more
of it if they could. So this I consider was the character
of California at that time. It was great variety, it was
abundance, it was beneficent climate, it was opportunity
that they had not experienced elsewhere. And it's this
character of opportunity that is the most stimulating thing
as far as design goes. This is something that strikes a
newcomer in a way that it doesn't strike an oldtimer,
probably. That is, that there are still newer things to be
discovered and still newer things that can be done with
what is there.
STONEFIELD: I asked a question earlier that we never
really got to about a statement that David Gebhard had made
recently about the promise of Los Angeles architecture.
Southern California architecture, that was really never
fulfilled after the war. Do you know what he was talking
about and do you agree with him?
HARRIS: I'm not sure. My assumption is that directions
that were being taken before the war weren't picked up
after the war, and that almost invariably happens when
there is any great interruption, particularly a war, [and]
to some extent a depression. And there have been a great
many interruptions in California's very short history.
Some of them were made simply by the great influx of groups
of people from different places at a particular time. This
happened every few years it seems to me back in the
eighties and nineties and early 1900s. And when large
groups came, as for example the lowans. They came right
after World War I. They suddenly had money, they were
escaping from the hard winters, and they came out there in
droves. I can remember the state picnics, and the Iowa
picnic was the largest one. There would be over five
thousand people over in Sycamore Grove there at such a
picnic. And they brought with them habits that they didn't
get over quickly. So mere numbers had a great deal to do I
think with stopping some things. However, the stop that I
imagine, the change that Gebhard is referring to, was the
one after World War II. And this lasted a bit longer I
guess than World War I. Anyway, things were done in a
larger way that made a greater interruption. And there
were many new people there [who were] unaware of what the
state had been earlier and who saw certain opportunities,
largely economic ones. So their rush to realize these
possibilities obliterated others.
STONEFIELD: What had been the direction before the war and
how did it change afterwards?
HARRIS: Well, World War I really marked the end of the
nineteenth century. And the latter part of the nineteenth
century was sort of the apex of European civilization,
which was being realized even more fully in the United
States probably than in Europe. It was a belief in
progress, no doubt about that, that we would go on to
better and better things, a very strong belief in
education, which was a national one--it was partly
international I know, too--that came at that time. That
was a very important thing it seems to me. It was a new
world in the sense that nothing had to be destroyed to do
something new. You simply left it behind as if it weren't
there and —
STONEFIELD: What I'm trying to get at is where was
architecture going in Southern California before the Second
HARRIS: Oh, I see.
STONEFIELD: How did the Second World War change the
direction and perhaps destroy the flow of it?
HARRIS: Well, the depression starting in 1929 and '30
stopped all construction for a time. And it started up
very slowly. Only a year or two before the Depression,
tieutra and Schindler couldn't find clients because the
fashion for, well, the Spanish in particular simply was so
widespread so that no deviation from it really was
possible. It was only a freak who would think of deviating
and somewhere — I referred to Schindler's client[s], and
Neutra's to some extent too, as "raw-f coders . " Really,
many of them were. And nature dancers, all sorts of things
that were rather far out, and they lived completely apart
from the life of the community generally.
And when the war came along everything stopped. Other
ideas had a chance suddenly to poke their heads out, and
our look at Europe during the war--and that look continued
after the war some--then made us much more conscious of
modern European work. To begin with, Wright was just as
ignored immediately before the war as anyone else. And
Maybeck and Greene and Greene were just little local
phenomenons, they had no general significance at all. So
that it was the break, first with the Depression that
stopped all building and gave people a chance to think, and
then World War II that followed it, which made it even more
complete, made us aware of Europe and then ended the
Depression. We'd been crawling out of it gradually, but
now there was work, there was money, there was lots of
building to be done after the war. And we simply rushed
into it without much look at the past. I don't know how
good an answer this is to your question.
STONEFIELD: Well, it is. I was wondering who got that
work to do? Did any of these people that had been working
in California, whose work you would have considered to have
been in any way quality work, did they get this new
HARRIS: This is World 'War II now that we're talking about?
STONEFIELD: Right. At the end of the Second World War
when the building boom started in and there was a
tremendous need for housing.
HARRIS: That took a little while to get underway because
of the lack of materials and the great need of housing for
war veterans that we were very eager then to satisfy. I
remember someone remarking about a new office building
downtown that this was the first tall office building in
Los Angeles in twenty-five years. That was because
everything had stopped with the Depression, it had been
held up by the war. There was a lot of money after the war
and it was spent without a great deal of thought as far as
architecture went. And it's true that Neutra had some
work, more work than he had had before. Schindler I don't
think had because he had given up hope of having any
clients of that sort and was devoting himself entirely to
small, largely residential and shop, buildings for the
people who came to him. He didn't go out after them.
Then, of course, there were those who had laughed at
Neutra earlier who now proceeded to follow him as far as
the pattern of his buildings went, not in any very
fundamental way, but in other ways. This had started a bit
earlier, after the earthquake in 1933 in Long Beach, when
every school building in Los Angeles--and they were nearly
all brick — had had at least the cornice above the entrance
to the building, if not whole walls and other things,
shaken off. And tleutra, who had tried for years to get his
ring-plan school built, and had been refused by the state
board of education, turned down in every case, suddenly was
given a job of designing a school out at Bell. It wasn't a
ring, it wasn't a school in a straight line. And not so
big, but it had all of the elements of the ring. And this
had very quickly followed the use of tent houses on the
school grounds immediately after the quake. I should have
mentioned earthquakes as well as wars and depressions as--
HARRIS: As, yes, as opportunities, design opportunities.
So Neutra got this one school, and then every new school
that was built then was pretty much modeled on it. It was
a finger, then you got fingers branching from fingers. And
now they were one story buildings, whereas they'd been two
and three-story buildings before. And they were now
willing to give up a little bit of ground and playspace for
building. I can remember, in the commentary by Henry
Russel Hitchcock in the catalog of the Museum of Modern
Art's show with which it introduced its department of
architecture, the — VJell, I guess it wasn't Hitchcock's
comment. It was the comment of a school administrator in
the catalogue who was asked to comment on Neutra's design
and who spoke of how impractical it was. It was spread
out, administration was difficult, and things of this
sort. Well, administration became a very minor matter
now. They spread, and the finger plan school became a very
popular form that went on for years and years. There have
been changes since, but it was a big thing. Neutra had a
few other things that came along. I'm trying to remember
which ones were after the war and which were before.
Because he was getting work before 194 1 and--
STONEFIELD: I was wondering, obviously there was a lot of
interest in housing after the war, and the Case Study
program was designed to influence the direction that the
design took, to keep it at a high level. And as I drive
around California, Southern California, and look at those
housing developments that appeared after the Second World
War, I don't see any reflection of that in them. Do you
know why that would have happened?
HARRIS: Well, I don't know. For war housing Neutra
designed that project down near San Pedro, down near
Rolling Hills. It was right below the Chadwick School,
which I had designed, also the Palos Verdes College. The
Channel Heights project, it was. It was generally thought
of as probably the most — It had held more promise for
group housing than anything else that had been done during
the war. He made very good use of the site. It was a very
irregular site and yet he managed to accomodate a very
large number of units on it and did it in a very
unmechanical sort of way. He received considerable praise
for that. Then Neutra got some other housing work, not
just housing. There was a project in Puerto Rico which was
housing and schools and hospitals. Rex Tugwell — I'm trying
to remember his earlier history — was then governor-general,
or whatever he was called, of Puerto Rico. He was a strong
FDR man, and this was a New Deal thing really. This must
have been after the war, or was it before? It may have
been really before the war and during, it was so close to
that time that I'm not positive. Anyway, Neutra designed
some very simple structures there, using natural means of
shading and cooling and ventilating these buildings.
Schools with whole walls that were really overhung garage
doors in character and would swing up and out, opening the
room to the outside, little things of this sort which I
think were quite good. And Neutra was very much involved
in the design of the buildings then. He gradually seemed
to lose interest in that and began to spend more time
talking about biology and living in a technological age and
designing particularly for it. More and more work was done
by others in the office, and the work became more like
other work. It was called modern, but it wasn't so
distinctively Neutra and it didn't have at the heart of it
a particular design idea that would distinguish it from all
other buildings that he would do, as well as what others
would do, which the earlier work did have.
STONEFIELD: He was doing less of the designing actually
HARRIS: I'm sure he was. He was concerned much more with
writing and lecturing and things of this sort. And the
office was really much more — The same thing happened with
Wright of course.
STONEFIELD: Did you ever get involved in any large-scale
projects like that? Would you have wanted to?
HARRIS: Well, a little bit. I did design a housing
project in San Bernardino, which didn't get built. But we
went through a lot of it. We went through the various loan
agencies-- I'm trying to remember what the loans were
called, 608, or whatever it was. But this was back in '42
mostly, '41 and '42, and the thing was complicated. I
didn't have a license either at this time. So I was rather
timid when it came to applying for things of this sort.
Clients came to me and I didn't go to them, and I didn't
have public work.
STONEFIELD: When did you get your license?
HARRIS: I didn't get it until I went to Texas.
STONEFIELD: I have been meaning to ask you all through
this, since you really didn't serve an apprenticeship for
any length of time--
HARRIS: No, I worked these five days for Neutra in his
office and that's all I worked in an architect's office.
STONEFIELD: Where did you pick up all of your technical
HARRIS: Well, I did take, as Neutra had suggested, some
technical courses at night. And I did get structural
engineering. It was very good and I had a very good
teacher there. I mentioned him I think. He was an English
architect and engineer. He was in Los Angeles, and he got
a job teaching architecture, which had just been a drafting
course, I guess, at Frank Wiggins Trade School. This was
the only school in which one could get such technical
courses. I took a short course, it was really nothing more
than technical drawing, at City College in the summer and
then entered Frank Wiggins Trade School. And I really
spent-- Did I spend two years there? I guess I spent only
one year there. And then M. T. Cantell, who was the head
of it — he had one assistant teacher--Cantell was a fellow
of the Royal Institute of British Architects. He was a
very poor designer. He was a very good engineer, and an
excellent teacher. From him I learned much that I haven't
been able to use to any great extent--the complicated
engineering design of rigid frames and other things that
the professional engineer at the time didn't really come
across until four or five years later. We used his
reinforced concrete text, which was all in English
measurements and symbols, which made it a little bit
difficult then to substitute American symbols in his
formulas. I got a great deal out of that.
At the end of the school year he decided to open a
school of his own where he would be more free. So he
rented the second floor of a little building on Sixteenth
Street — or, rather, another name, Venice Boulevard — out
beyond Western Avenue, and called it the Los Angeles
College of Architecture and Engineering. And he took his
one assistant with him, who had been a student of his in
England years before and who had been working in Los
Angeles for a number of years for the Pasadena architect
Myron Hunt. Then he invited me to come along also as an
unpaid assistant, which I did. This was just at the time
that Neutra left for Europe. So I went out there. I took
classes part of the time and then I taught some classes
there during that year.
When Neutra returned from Europe, he stopped in the
East. He spent some time in New York and he spent some
time working for the 'vJhite Motor Company designing a motor
bus. And while there he was interviewed by a new museum
that was being started and to be called the riuseum of
Science and Industry--a name that was later used by a
museum in Chicago that was a different thing altogether.
It opened in Rockefeller Center. Neutra wrote me, I
think--! don't think he telephoned, no one telephoned in
those days — from there and said that the museum was going
to open and it was going to open with an exhibition built
around the history of the human habitation, from the cave
dwelling to the present. And the present was to be
represented by the Lovell House. And would I go to Conrad
Buff, the painter, and get from him the working drawings of
the Lovell House, which he had left with him when he went
to Europe. He wasn't leaving anything at--
STONEFIELD: Schindler's house?
HARRIS: Schindler's. And make a model of it. And then he
added that the museum was allowing five hundred dollars for
the model. Five hundred dollarsl That knocked me over.
Why you could build a house for that, not just a model.
And then, because the house was metal, I decided the model
should be metal, too. So I went to Harry Schoeppe, who had
taught metalwork, jewelry, and things like that at Otis,
and asked him if he would help me make it out of metal.
Which he agreed to do. So we made it in the garage of his
house over in Altadena, and we spent at least three months
on it. He did all the metalwork; I did everything else on
it. Neutra returned just before we shipped it, I believe;
I think he saw it before we shipped it east.
The funny thing is that within just the past year I
had a telephone call from someone at the Hirshhorn Museum
saying that they were getting together an exhibition of
immigrant art. They were including architecture in it and
they would like to have the model of the Lovell House,
could I tell them where it was? Mrs. Neutra had told them
that I had worked on it. She hadn't been there when I had
done it, she had never seen it, but she did remember that
much. Well, I had no record of it at all. I found some
newspaper clippings from the Times and the Express
describing it. They tried, and they finally notified me
that they, the museum, had traced it from Rockefeller
Center to, I think, Baltimore, and then it disappeared
entirely. So I don't know. If the model is still in
existence, it's either in somebody's attic or it's some
children's plaything, I don't know. So I sent them
photographs. I photographed the model that I had made
before we sent it, so they simply enlarged that photograph
and used it in the exhibition there. This is an awfully
big aside here.
STONEFIELD: You mentioned immigrant architecture, and I
was wondering if you had had any firsthand experiences with
any of the architects who came over from Europe during the
Second World War and before?
HARRIS: Not in a design way at all. My meetings and
connections with them were in New York in 194 3 and '44,
when I think there were eighteen members of CIAM [Congr§s
Internationaux d ' Arch itecture Moderne] in or around New
York on war work of one kind or another. Very, very
shortly after we arrived in New York, I had a call from
Sigfried Giedion. Giedion remembered that I had been the
secretary of the American branch of CIAM back in 1930, '29
and '30. So I had luncheon meetings at least once a week
for a couple of months I guess with him and with Jose
Sert. Jos§ Sert was not at Harvard at the time. He had
lectured there. He had come over for these lectures, just
as Giedion had come over to lecture there, and both had got
stuck by the war. And Giedion, as godfather I guess he
could be called, of CIAM, was very eager to get something
going again on it and thought with all of these European
members here it should be possible to establish a chapter
which we called the American Chapter for Relief and Postwar
Planning. I had met Sert earlier, I think, when he was
working with Paul Wiener, and together they were designing
an airplane-age city. It was a city in Brazil. It was
being built from the start, and it was where the
manufacture of airplanes was to be the big thing.
Anyway, we had these luncheon meetings. I very
quickly found out that the reason that I had been called in
was that anything of this sort, with anti-German feeling
running as high as it was, had to be handled carefully, and
they wanted someone who was American and blue-eyed, of
Anglican ancestry. And in the mere fact that I had been
secretary there was sufficient additional feature to call
for it. I saw that very quickly. But I was extremely
interested in what I was learning through this. I had read
at least parts of Space, Time, and Architecture, which was
just published at that time, I guess, and Giedion was
working on another book called Mechanization Takes
Command. He and Jean had great arguments over that.
I was delegated to write letters to all of the former
CIA[M] members in this country and invite them to a
meeting. And the meeting was set, it was well in advance
then, at ten o'clock on a Sunday morning in the New School
of Social Research in Hew York. It was the hottest Sunday
I can remember. But lots of things turned up during our
conversations on this, because there was talk, not to me,
but in front of me. They weren't trying to hide it from
me, they didn't realize how shocked I was by some of these
things. First of all, or at least one of the things, was
who are we going to have for president? Now, both of them
[were] Europeans, and Giedion [was] a German, a very
bombastic professorial type who was particularly concerned
that everything be official. That was the reason for the
organization. It was to be for relief and postwar
planning, because they felt certain by this time that the
allies were going to win the war. The United States would
come out in the best economic condition and would be in a
position to influence work in the rebuilding of Europe.
And if this organization were official, what they hoped to
do was what had been done earlier in Europe. The one
example I can remember was in Spain where Sert, who was
hardly more than a student at the time, with others
protested loudly because an important building was given to
some very old and stuffy traditional-minded firm. They
called in the CIAM, which was an international
organization, it wasn't just a little local thing, to speak
in their behalf. And they got the commission that way. So
this was what they were trying to do here. They thought.
"We're going to win the war, the United States is going to
win the war, it's going to have the money and it will be
available to dictate what is going to be done and who is
going to do it." Their idea was that the CIAM, then, would
be a sort of reservoir of talent that would be used by
those in authority here to say — whether it is in Romania or
Czechoslovakia or Germany or wherever it is — you can have
this to do this, and this is the man that will do it.
Well, I knew that was impossible. But it was a lot of fun
We had the meeting, and it was only because I was so
terribly innocent that I came out of it as well as I did.
I had assumed that all of these CIA[M] members, who had
been buddies in promoting modern design throughout Europe
for fifteen years or so, were all good friends on best of
terns and had worked together in agreement. Well, we
hadn't been in the room, I hadn't even called the meeting
to order before I realized that it was full of all sorts of
tensions. There were all sorts of jealousies and
animosities of one kind and another there. And I began to
tremble in my boots at this. v-Jell, we called it to
order. They were not all there but most of them were
there. Gropius was there, Breuer was there, [Ludwig] Mies
[van der Rohe ] was not, and Otto Wagner (who was out in
Chicago) was not there. There were a number of others
there that I didn't know at the time. And we made the
proposal for an American chapter for relief and postwar
planning. Oh, one thing I forgot to say. In these
conversations at the luncheons, in discussing who the
officers might be--and they weren't limiting themselves
just to those who were there in America at the time,
although that would help--they couldn't have Le Corbusier
because he had been collaborating with the Germans. They
made no bones about that. They assumed that everyone knew
it, apparently. And they went on speaking of others in the
same way. And my hair was just standing on end, and my
eyes must have been bursting, but I didn't say anything. I
wanted to hear all that there was to be said.
STONEFIELD: Well, tell us. Were they really being very
specific about those kind of choices?
HARRIS: This was the point. They would plan all of this
ahead of time. We were to have a meeting that would simply
okay it, you see. That was their idea of it. They —
STONEFIELD: But there wasn't very much agreement amongst
HARRIS: No, but I'm only talking about this committee of
three at this particular time. So when I began to see what
they were really up to and [that] they wanted an American,
I said, "Well, I think the person who would do this best is
Wally [Wallace] K. Harrison." He was later the architect
of the United Nations building. I had net him when I first
came to New York. I had been down in Washington. I had
met him there when he was, first, deputy and, then,
director of inter-American affairs. He was a friend, had
been brother-in-law, of Nelson Rockefeller, and when iJelson
Rockefeller left — What did he go to? He took over
something else. Harrison then took over his job there.
Well, Harrison then took over his job there. Well,
Harrison by this time was back in New York, and I said,
because I knew of his ability to work with government
officials and things of this sort, "He's the only one I can
think of who might be able to do that." So I was delegated
to go and talk to him. And I did, and he said that the
aims were good but that he was too well known for his other
connections to get into this; his motives would be
questioned. How true this was, I don't know. It probably
was true, but even so I think he didn't want it.
STONEFIELD: Were their aims, were their motives pure and
noble? I mean were they trying to keep up the level of
architecture all over the world? Or were they just
interested in money?
HARRIS: No, no, they were not. They were interested in
architecture, but they were interested in their own kind of
architecture. There was no question about their self-
interest in it. And this reminds me of something else.
This came up at a party. I remember it was a party at
[Alexander] Chermayeff's in New York City during the war.
This was a bit earlier than the CIAM meeting, I think.
There was a lot of talking going on and a lot of it was
about the war, and suddenly Jean said, "Oh, I wish this war
were over." There was sudden silence. It was startling,
this silence. And then someone said, "Well, not too
soon." I mean the war was something they were using. They
were using the war to promote their architectural futures.
STONEFIELD: Was this true of people of the caliber of
Gropius and Wagner and Mies?
HARRIS: I think it was. It was quiet, but I think it was
pretty widespread. Much so. I remember--
STONEFIELD: How were they doing that?
HARRIS: Peter Blake was there, he was one of these too.
STONEFIELD: He was one of those that were — ?
HARRIS: Well, I didn't hear him protest.
STONEFIELD: Oh. But how were they using it? I mean they
had had to leave their homes and come and start all over
again in the United States. How were they--?
HARRIS: Well, anyway, the war having started and they
having got into it, they were making the most that they
could out of the situation.
STONEFIELD: I see.
HARRIS: And this is the way the were going to go about
it. When I wrote these letters to the various members, I
wrote to some others that we wanted to include. One was
George Howe, whom I knew slightly. I had met him in
California a few years earlier when he had come out, and I
had shown him around there and I have seen him, I think,
once or twice in Washington. I remember I got back two
replies. One was from Otto Wagner —
TAPE NUMBER: V, SIDE TWO
AUGUST 23, 197 9
HARRIS: Wagner wrote back that he would have nothing to do
with that — I've forgotten what he called Giedion, but,
anyway, it was some bombastic something or other. And I
got a very similar letter from George Howe, who I always
had found a very mild person and genial. He would have
nothing to do either with anything that Giedion was
involved in. Well, I think we've spent too much time on
this particular part. But this was my principal connection
with European architects, whom I had known by reputation
but had not known personally. I had met both Gropius and
Breuer when we first came to New York in 1943. We were
invited to a party just for us in Lincoln, Massachusetts,
where Gropius's house was, where Breuer's house was, and
where James Ford [and] Katherine Morrow Ford, who was later
the editor, architectural editor, of House and Garden,
lived. Their house was designed by Gropius. We had three
afternoons there, each time we were invited back by another
of the three for an afternoon party there. So I saw
something of them then. Gropius is a person that I never
got the least bit close to. He was not one that I found
one could. From what one hears from some students, I think
he may be quite different. Breuer was quite different.
STONEFIELD: How do Gropius's students describe him?
HARRIS: Well, I don't know. I don't remember any remarks
of theirs that fit in very well with this offishness that I
found. When I was in Mexico City at the Eighth Pan-
American Congress of Architects and had just finished
asking Mr. Wright if he would speak to my twenty-one
students, I asked the same thing of Gropius. Gropius
wouldn't comply at all, all of which surprised me very
much. Gropius appeared to be a good teacher. The work of
his that I admired was quite early work, Fagus factory and
earlier things mostly, and — But let's have another. Let's
get on from this. I don't know what else you have there.
STONEFIELD: I'm interested in, was there any effect on
your work of what you knew of the International Style?
HARRIS: Not a great deal. There was some at the
beginning, but it was more as it came through Neutra and,
to some extent, Schindler. Somehow I never thought of
Schindler as being really European, despite the fact that
his forms were completely strange. The work that I saw,
whether it was Le Corbusier or Gropius or some of the
others — I'm even forgetting their names now, ones that were
much more prominent then because Le Corbusier and Gropius
hadn't become so prominent that everyone else was blotted
out. But to me they weren't really buildings. That is,
they weren't buildings in the sense of something made to
accommodate some kind of a life within, life or work or
anything. They to me remained more rather odd abstract
sculpture. And, as I have remarked before, for sculpture I
preferred the sculptors to the architects.
STONEFIELD: Your background was in sculpture.
HARRIS: Yes, it was.
STONEFIELD: How did that relate to the work that you did?
HARRIS: Well, it may have made me a little more critical,
I don't know. I was very interested, from a theoretical
standpoint particularly, in abstraction. But the mere fact
that something was called abstract didn't make it any more
attractive to me. And most of it was not an abstraction,
it was simply a nonrepresentat ional thing. It was an
abstraction of nothing. There was nothing to be
abstracted. But it was the fact that the forms were not
alive to me as sculpture which made it unsatisfactory, and
as an architect--
STONEFIELD: You're talking about the International Style?
HARRIS: Yes. And as far as the interiors went, I didn't
find [in] what I could see from photographs sometimes
anything that began to compare with what I saw in Schindler
and especially of course in 'Wright and some others. These
things were not alive. Most of the forms seemed very
arbitrary. And they seemed to serve only one purpose, they
didn't have the versatility that I felt that true
architectural form had.
I came more and more to see architectural form, not
simply as plastic form, but as something that grows up
around the form of an activity, and the activity has to
have form of its own or you can't have architectural
form. This is why you can have manners in building —
because you have manners in people. Architectural form was
enlarged a great deal as I found more and more particulars
involved in an architectural situation. For example, if we
walk into a building, it's one thing as we see it from a
standing level, it's another as we see it from a sitting
level. It's one thing when the light is coming from one
side, something else from another. Then there are all
sorts of more subtle things that come out only as you use
it and as you find provisions that were made with
foresight, knowing what you would want to do and providing
things that invite you to do it. You do it and then
discover that you were led to do it by the building
itself. There are other qualities that are part of the
design, and the design includes everything. It includes
not only the sculptural aspects of it but also the
functional aspects in the more ordinary mechanical sense of
the term. Their effect as a whole is a sense of having
anticipated one's wants; of realizing one's needs,
emotional as well as others; of providing both protection
in one way and freedom in another; as well as variety and
all sorts of other things that become a part of the
design. It's such a various thing.
And this is something that a client seldom realizes to
any very full extent. He thinks of the building as one or
two things, and he thinks of it naturally only in terms of
what he has already seen in a building. And so what he
asks for in a building is only what he has seen before, and
he doesn't begin to ask for the things that might more
truly suit him if he knew what he wanted. So the first
problem of the architect is to help the client discover
what it is he truly wants. And it happens only as the
architect puts himself into the place of the client in
every way, in a feeling way, an emotional way, as well as
other ways. And because he is not limited in his thinking
by merely what he has seen, but knows that more things are
possible than he has ever seen, and maybe different from
anything that has ever been done. Because he knows this,
he gives himself much freer rein.
One may start out, usually the best way with a client
to start out is by taking exactly what he asks for and what
he says. Then you do it and show him that so much more
could be done and how far short this falls. You try to get
him then to really open up and think what he really would
like to have or what he would like to do. Then you can
tell him what more he can have. And when he thinks, "I
can't have this, because if I have this I can't have that,"
then you work to discover how he can have this and that
both. You resolve these mutually exclusive views that grow
up out of his more limited experience in architectural
STONEFIELD: Do you see architecture then as having
possibilities for improving the quality of life in general?
HARRIS: Yes, I think so. I don't think that one does it
by teaching only. It's only when you are opening up,
inviting, relieving one of his anxieties, stimulating his
adventurousness in thinking and, in general, simply giving
him the support and the freedom and, where you can, the
direction to develop according to his own nature — that's
the only way you can do it. It's discovering his own
nature, which the person himself seldom can do in these
particulars. He limits his picture of himself, and of what
he wants, entirely by what he has already seen and had and
done. And the architect's principal job is to get him to
go beyond that. You don't know, yourself, but you're sure
that it must happen.
When the wife brings in a stack of magazines and pulls
out various things and says "This is what I want," you
don't say, "No." You begin asking why it is and what it is
in particular about this that she likes. You very soon
discover that it is really something entirely different.
You find that the only reason she brought them in was she
didn't want to come in empty-handed. She felt a little
ashamed to not have anything more than what was on her
mind. So she borrows, whether it's from her friends or
what she reads or something else. And it's necessary to
get beyond that. Sometimes it's hard to do it, and you
can't do it with some people at all. But I have found that
taking a client's first suggestion and not saying no, but
simply trying to carry it further than he has, you can then
ask him why he wouldn't prefer this better means to get
it. You add something more, something else. And then of
course the whole thing gets big and they think, "Well, it's
out of the question, the cost of such a thing would be
enormous." But then you discover that each of these isn't
something that has to be solved separately in a building,
all by itself, but these are things that can be combined
STONEFIELD: In Peter Blake's book Form Follows Fiasco, he
says that the Internationalists tried to do this on a large
scale and really failed to do it. I wonder if you agree
with that, or why they would have failed, was it that they
misread human nature?
HARRIS: Well, I don't know ]ust what it was they said that
he was referring to. I have not read the book. I am
inclined to think that on the whole they weren't asking the
client so much as they were telling them. Certainly in
their designs that was implicit. The brave new world was
pretty well outlined in their plans, and their means were
ones that the architect felt pretty certain that he already
had. It wasn't a matter of cultivating a person's capacity
to see more than he had seen. It's not telling him what to
see, it's more a matter of relieving him of views that he
has acquired through his ancestors a way back or from his
neighbor next door. It's trying to discover what he most
wants, unconsciously maybe, and is not determined for him
by any architect.
STONEFIELD: Do you think it's possible to improve on the
quality of life through architecture on such a large scale,
or do you think it has to be done in a personal way?
HARRIS: It has to be done in particulars. I think it
begins with these little particulars, and that is the only
way it can go. It's the only way most planning can be done
effectively, too. And it's the only way that the architect
can work successfully, realistically; it's the only way
that the architect can grow and be satisfied with
himself. It's finding particulars, of which the client is
probably the most important, but there are a dozen other
important ones in it— what things are to be selected, to be
developed, what things belong, what things don't belong,
md getting this down into a form. Part of this is through
the architect becoming the client, projecting himself fully
into the client's situation, just as if he were an actor he
would be projecting himself into the character he's
portraying, and for the moment to think and act as though
he were that person. That's the only way. The result is
that he enlarges himself by it and he comes out with
something that he didn't have when he went in, for himself
as well as for the client. There are large things — we're
talking about California [for] one thing — that exercise an
influence over vast numbers of people simultaneously. But,
in addition, there are all these other things that are so
small, that are individuals. And the surprising thing is
that if you want to do something large, usually you have to
begin with some small particular. And as you work with
that and see its ramifications and how it relates to
others, suddenly you get the key to the large thing. But
if you try to develop the key in some general terms first
and then try to carry it down to particulars, you're going
the wrong way entirely.
STONEFIELD: Do you like to do that kind of thing?
HARRIS: Yes. Yes.
STONEFIELD: You wouldn't mind doing large-scale?
HARRIS: No, not at all. The difficulty is that one has
very little control on large things. First of all, the
client is a very amorphous one. It may be a board, at most
a committee, usually. Behind that there are other boards
and committees and imaginary persons that have to be
considered. And it's just very, very difficult to take
them all on. And they are, for the most part, boards and
committees, afraid to take responsibility for a decision
affecting a large building. If you can get some one
person, whether he's the chairman of the board, the
president of a college, or whoever he is, who will stick
his neck out and say, "This is what we want, this is what
we're going to have" — Not in every particular, of
course. You know he's going to make the decisions
finally. You are helping in every possible way, you make
suggestions, you may change him a great, great, deal. But
at least you have one person there. Working with the
average representative of some large concern, you find he's
most concerned with not being blamed for some possible
mistake. He wants first of all to have an architect who
has done something that everyone seems to approve, someone
that his competitors have had and approved, and that he can
point to if he is criticized and say, "Well, he was the
best there was." That kind of client is never going to get
the best building.
STONEFIELD: Would you say that you prefer to work on any
particular scale? Do you find--?
HARRIS: No, I don't think it makes a great deal of
difference- now when I was in North Borneo seven years
ago-- I went there to design a hotel and some cottages.
Well, it ended up I designed a whole resort and it was an
entire island. And I had no more difficulty in designing
the entire island, with an eight-story hotel with four
hundred and fifty rooms and with all sorts of things in it
that an international hotel would have, plus other things
that the region had, together with-- Let's see, we had a
Malay theater, a conventional movie theater, we had a Malay
restaurant, we had a Chinese restaurant, we had a casino--
Anyway, I went on with the whole thing, with a pond — well,
it was a huge lagoon. It took two dams, one over a half
mile long, to enclose the space between the island and the
mainland for water sports. We had a floating restaurant in
it. VJe brought everyone across by ferry, and I had one of
these little trains that they use in expositions and on
boardwalks, that picked up the guests at the airport three
miles down the road and brought them up and drove right
onto the ferry. Then it drove off the ferry and right
through the lobby of the hotel, between the desk and the
orchid room. We had things that I didn't care for very
much like bowling alleys and things of this sort, swimming
pools, discotheque. I put everything in separate buildings
that I possibly could, so that we had gardens between them
all. The gardens were designed with every bit as much care
as any room in the building. And I had a working farm
there with rice paddies, water buffalo, and other things,
because I knew that most of the visitors wouldn't get out
into the country and see these things. And all of this was
very easy. I did it all in three months' time with no
trouble at all. Much, much faster than if I had had
help. Much, much faster without any handbooks. The only
time I felt the need for a handbook was when I didn't know
the length of a bowling alley. That was the only time I
needed a handbook. For everything else I did without it.
I don't think the scale matters once you get the idea, and
the idea works. It's just as much work to design a small
house as it is to design an island, a resort, almost a
STONEFIELD: Several of the modern architects, twentieth-
century architects, have had Utopian schemes that they have
developed. Are you thirsting--?
HARRIS: No, I'm not, because I don't think it can be done.
STONEFIELD: You don't.
HARRIS: Everything that I have designed in years and years
and years has been something that has been based on the
idea that it's going to grow, that it's going to change,
and that all of the elements have to be ones that can be
added to, can be shifted, can be changed in various ways.
And it all grows out of some kind of a center that is —
[tape stops] This of course is the organic view of a
design, and I found it stimulating, both as a parallel to
what happens in nature and as a working method which comes
up in different ways. One's design undergoes changes while
he's making it. Even when the preliminaries are finished,
other changes are going to occur in the working drawings.
And this concept of parts, more or less independent but all
taking part in the dance of the whole, enables one to make
these changes with the least destruction to the design. I
found in working on an existing building to remodel it that
when it's a good building with good design, and has the
character I have described, it can be remodeled rather
easily. This was my surprise, or pleasure anyway, in
working on the remodeling, and to some extent the
restoration of, Sullivan's Owatonna bank building [National
Farmers Bank Building]. Then, years later, I remodeled it
again, remodeling now what I had put in earlier but had put
in in a way that made it now possible for me to remove or
remodel them very, very easily. Banking practices had
changed. Things that were essential in 1958 were no longer
called for and something else was needed in their place.
The segmental character of what I did, the part's
similarity in character, the fact that these things fitted
together and were almost interchangeable made it possible
for me to make these changes without any difficulty. I was
more pleased with the result after the second remodeling
than the first.
STONEFIELD: Getting back to the Utopian schemes, you don't
feel that it's possible to set up a certain life-style for
a large group of people, to establish it and then to modify
it gradually as things change?
HARRIS: Well, I think a picture of what at the moment one
considers to be the ideal is very important, but I don't
think that one should design it in such a way that the
construction becomes fixed and therefore a prison if one's
plans for it change at all. I found, as I said a little
while ago, that something that is well designed can be
remodeled very well. And something that isn't well
designed can't be remodeled well at all. And so it goes
for planning and building a Utopia. Everything that one
does should be for a Utopia. If it is properly designed,
change is possible. One isn't stuck if he anticipates
change and designs for the future changes that he doesn't
yet know what they will be.
STOtlEFIELD: Before we end this interview, is there
anything that you would like to add?
HARRIS: I don't think so. I don't think [that out] of the
notes that I had there probably is anything.
STONEFIELD: Any glaring omissions that — ?
HARRIS: I don't think there's anything glaring here. I
don't have notes on everything, but we've covered in one
way or another most of the things that I had noted down
here. So I think this is a good place to stop probably.
Academy of .Modern Art, 55,
Ain, Gregory, 55, 58-59,
69, 71, 108-10, 113
Aldrin, Anders, 39
"America at Home," 119
American Institute of
Architecture (AIA) ,
99, 101-2, 157
Anderson, Carl, 117-19, 126
Archipenko, Alexander, 116
ship, 137-38, 191-96
Architectural Forum, 90,
127, 129, 140, 144,
Architectural Record, 90,
91, 93, 132, 140,
Arts and Architecture. See
California Arts and
Bandini House, 86
Barrow, David, 121
Bauer House, 120
Benton, Thomas, 44
Berkeley, California, 18,
56, 95, 145, 146,
Beverly Hills Hotel, 95
Birtcher House, 139
Blacker House, 151
Blake, Peter, 185, 193
Breuer, Marcel, 142, 182,
Review, 14 2
Buff, Conrad, 177
-compared to eastern
U.S., 142, 138-39, 165,
-history of, 148-49,
-influence of climate,
78-82, 85-89, 163-66,
-Mission style, 10, 112,
California Arts and
30, 132. See also
Case Study Program;
Cantell, M. T. , 176
Case Study program, 131-32,
Century Magazine, 3 9
Chadwick School, 173
Channel Heights Project,
Chase National Bank, 146
Chicago Tribune Tower
Chouinard Art Institute, 55
Congr§s Internat ionaux
d ' Architecture
Moderne (CI AM), 63,
-American Chapter for
Relief and Postwar
Clark University, 22-23
Clark, Bettie (grand-
mother ) , 4-6
College of William and
Mary, 14 1
Columbia University, 131,
Dana, Charles, 86
Dapprich, Fred, 126
Davisson, Robert, 140
De Steiguer, Edward and
Margaret, 108, 124
De Steiguer House, 108, 124
Delbridge, Clive, 115, 123
Deskey, Donald, 139-40,
Dillon, Richard H., 2
Dodge House, 112-13
Dow, Alden, 144
Dulles Airport, 137
Eames, Charles, 136-37
Eames, Raye , 137
Edwards House, 108
Einstein Tower, 43
El Arquitecto, 4 0-41
Elliott House, 71
Ennis House, 105
Entenza, John, 128-37,
Fellowship Park, 118
Fellowship Park House, 124,
Ferenz , F . K . , 55
Fitch, James, 131, 149
Ford, James, 187
Ford, Katherine Morrow, 187
Frank Wiggins Trade School,
Freeman House, 104
Gamble House, 151
Gebhard, David, 1
tion , 126 ,
General Munthe Co
10, 86, 88
Gill, Irving, 111
Greene and Greene
16 9. See
Greene, Henry, 14
Griffin, VJalter B
, 57, 69
, 59, 179-
, 148, 151
Gaugin, Paul, 39
Gumberg, Emma, 14 6
Gutheim, Fritz, 114
Harris, Benjamin Butler
Harris, Franklin Thomas
(father), 3, 5, 7-9,
11-12, 15-17, 18-21,
-childhood, 1, 7-16, 22,
-education, 11-12, 18,
22-26, 30-39, 43-46, 49
-family background, 1-9,
12, 15-20, 33, 38, 46-47
influences, 40, 42-49,
-Greene and Greene,
-Richard Neutra, 117,
49, 83, 117-19, 123,
-Louis Sullivan, 89-90
-Frank Lloyd Wright,
91-95, 117, 163, 189
-on artistic influences,
39-40, 41-47, 116-17
-on architecture and
-Bauer House, 120
-Birtcher House, 139
Pavilion, 123, 133
-Havens House, 139,
-Laing House, 121-25
-Lek House, 139
-Lowe House, 117-19,
-Treanor House, 139
-Wylie House, 159
Harris, Jean (wife), 145-
57, 180, 185
Harris, William, 20
Harrison, Wallace K.,
Harvard University, 142,
Haskell, Douglas, 90-91
Havens House, 95, 139, 154
Hirshhorn Museum, 178
Hitchock, Henry Russel, 172
Holabird and Roche, 74
Hollyhock House, 35, 49-51,
52, 75, 92, 161
Holt, W. F . , 11
House and Garden, 187
House Beautiful, 125, 127,
Howe, George, 186-87
Howenstein, Karl, 89
Hudnut, Joseph, 142
Hunt, Myron, 177
Huntington Library, 2, 5
Ibsen, Henrik, 36
Ingersoll Steel and Disk
International Style, 134,
James House, 152
Johnson, Jerry, 130
Johnson (Ralph) House, 4 8
Kamrath, Karl, 99, 102
Kellerman, Annette, 137
Kilmer, Joyce, 28
King, Al , 45
KleinSmid, Rufus Bernhard
Knopp, Gideon, 23-26, 34,
Koch, Carl, 38
Kocher, Lawrence, 140-41
Kolbe, George, 116
La Jolla House, 113
Laing, Graham, 121-23
Laing House, 121-25
Lamb, Theodore Warren,
Lanchester, Elsa, 96-97
Laughton, Charles, 96-98
Le Corbusier, 101, 183, 188
League of nations building,
Lehigh Portland Cement
Lek House, 139
Loeb, Gerald, 154-57
Loos, Adolph, 73, 112
Los Angeles, 7-8, 19, 38-
42, 61, 63, 66, 67,
75, 138-39, 146-49,
156, 166, 170, 175-
Los Angeles Art Students
League , 44-45 , 117
Los Angeles College of
Los Angeles Museum of
History, Science and
Art, 39-40, 42, 47
Los Angeles Philharmonic
Lovell House, 55-57, 63,
69, 75-76, 131, 177,
Lowe House, 117, 123,
Lowe, Pauline, 123
Maillol, Aristide, 116
Martin, Glenn, 143
Maybeck, Bernard, 153-57,
McCoy, Esther, 73, 77, 161
Mendelsohn, Eric, 43, 52, 57
Meyers, Howard, 140
Mies van der Rohe, Ludwig,
Muir, John, 8 8
Museum of Modern Art, 132,
Museum of Science and
Myers, Howard, 9 8
Mexico, 4 2
National Farmers Bank
Minnesota), 90, 199-
Nelson, George, 155
Neutra, Dione, 147, 154,
Neutra, Richard, 8, 18, 54-
65, 67-78, 88, 106,
108-114, 117, 121-
23, 129-131, 161,
163, 169-78, 188
-Channel Heights Project,
-compared to Schindler,
-compared to Wright, 106
-How America Builds, 7 5
-Lovell House, 55-57, 63,
67, 69, 76, 131
-Rush City Reformed,
-Statler Hotel, 74
New School of Social
New York World's Fair,
Occidental College, 79
Olive Hill, 34 , 70, 165
Otis Art Institute, 18, 31-
34, 37-39, 42, 44-
46, 49, 89, 114-15,
Otis (Harrison Gray)
Oyer, George, 129-30
Packard, Emmy Lou, 4 2
Palos Verdes College, 173
Pan-American Congress of
Architects, 42, 98,
Pasadena, California, 9,
10, 79, 108, 121,
124, 149, 176
Pioneer Park, 29
Pomona College, 18, 32, 36
Pueblo Ribera 71, 113
Redlands, California, 6, 7,
9-12, 15, 19, 22-23
Redman, James, 4 5
Rivera, Diego, 40, 41, 42
Rockefeller Center, 177,
Rockefeller, Nelson, 184
Royal Institute of British
Rush City Reformed, 61-69
Russell, Morgan, 44
Saarinen, Eero, 137
Saint Mark's in the Bowery,
San Marcos in the Desert,
Schindler, Pauline, 54, 76-
Schindler, Rudolf M. , 52,
56-58, 68-78, 85,
105, 109, 113-14,
117, 125, 146-47,
-compared to TJeutra,
-Elliott House, 71-72
-Kings Road House, 160
-Pueblo Ribera, 71, 113
Schliemann, Heinrich, 83-84
Schoeppe, Harry, 178
Schweikher, Paul, 126-27
Scripps House, 113
Scripps, Ellen, 113
Sert, Jos§, 179-31
Shamrock Hotel, 99
Shaw, George Bernard, 36-37
Sierra Court, 114
Stanford University, 84
Stanley, George, 115
Statler Hotel, 74
Stone, Edward D. , 44
Stoner House, 104
Sullivan, Louis, 89-90
Taliesin. See Wright,
Thomason, Ryland, 25-26
Treanor House, 139
Tugwell, Rex, 173
Tunnard, Christopher, 142
University of Arizona, 94
University of California,
Los Angeles, 14 5
University of Houston, 101
University of Mexico, 42
University of Texas, 42,
University of Virgina, 129,
University of Southern
Wagner, Otto, 182, 185-87
Wallace, Alfred Russel, 35
Wasrauth Collection. See
Wright, Frank Lloyd.
Weatherhead, Arthur Clason,
Webber, Walter, 149
Wendingen, 43, 9
Weston, Cole, 151
Weston, Edward, 151
White Motor Company, 177
Wiener, Paul, 180
Wilfred, Thomas, 45
World War I, 22, 27, 30,
40, 59, 152, 167-68
World War II, 30, 96, 138,
Wright, Frank Lloyd, 4 3-44,
52, 56, 68, 70, 73,
74, 77-78, 90-102,
104-6, 109-14, 117,
125, 155-56, 163,
169, 174, 188-89,
-The Life Work of
Frank Lloyd Wright,
-compared to Meutra as
-general discussion of
-"In the Nature of
-Taliesin, 74, 91, 93,
-"The Square Papers", 96
-Wasmuth Collection, 43,
-Ennis House, 105
-Freeman House, 104
-Hollyhock House, 35,
49-51, 52, 75, 92,
-Millard House, 104
-Saint Mark's in the
Bowery, 9 3
-San Marcos in the
-Stoner House, 104
Wright, Lloyd, 34, 93, 96
Wylie House, 159
Yale University, 79, 137
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