Well-known for aggressive stewardship over the family’s architectural legacy, Neutra campaigned heavily throughout his life for the preservation of his father’s work and other modernist buildings. In the early 2000s, he fought to save many of the high-profile and pricey Neutra houses that populated Southern California. At the time, while they were being bought as design “fetish objects,” the younger Neutra believed people also had plans to remodel or demolish them.
Neutra was also an accomplished architect in his own right. Dion Neutra was born in 1926, just after his father immigrated from Vienna, Austria, and rose to prominence in L.A. for his now-iconic local dwellings. By the time the younger Neutra was 17 years old, the two began collaborating and spreading their distinct aesthetic influence all over the city. Even in his own projects later in life, Dion Neutra carried forward his father’s architectural ideals, creating largely steel-frame or concrete structures with a heavy use of glass and ample outdoor space—the epitome of SoCal living.
Neutra studied architecture at the University of Southern California, graduating in 1950 and immediately going to work for his father. When Richard Neutra died in 1970, Dion became president of the family non-profit, The Neutra Institute for Survival Through Design. One of his most popular projects came after his father’s passing: the Huntington Beach Central Library and Cultural Center completed in 1975. According to the L.A. Times, it “remains a vibrant focal point of the community,” even after 45 years.
The last few decades years of Neutra’s life were largely characterized by his long fight to preserve Neutra architecture. In 2004, he famously strapped himself to a bulldozer that was set up to take down his father’s 1962 Cyclorama Center in Gettysburg National Military Park. By 2013, it was demolished.
Neutra’s last project was a home for his son in Honduras that was completed in 2018. He is survived his wife, his brother Raymond, and his two sons and their families.