Charles and Ray Eames designed their Pacific Palisades home in 1949 as part of the Case Study Program, which was begun by John Entenza, editor of Arts & Architecture Magazine. The program invited some of the best architects of the day to share their ideas for using new materials and methods to construct well-designed, mass-producible housing. The two-part, rectangular house was constructed of prefabricated materials and off-the-shelf products. Now, the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) has made the mid-20th century modern architecture landmark a subject of its Conserving Modern Architecture Initiative.
Eames House Conservation Project, view of the kitchen. (Holly Brobst, GCI)
The Eames House Conservation Project, as it is called, is revealing challenges related to utilizing contemporary materials in a landmark structure, even one of modern vintage. GCI scientists are developing a long-term conservation plan in collaboration with the Eames Foundation and project architects Escher GuneWardena. However, inspections of the house have already produced results. GCI conservator Emily MacDonald-Korth’s paint excavation revealed hand-mixed grays, likely created by Ray Eames. Conservator Arlen Heginbotham identified the wood on a living room wall as a species of eucalyptus similar to the large eucalyptus trees on the property. The foundation is also looking at the environment of the site. The house is situated in a meadow overlooking the ocean.Eames House Conservation Project, view of the steel frame window wall (Holly Brobst, GCI)