Arts & Architecture Mag
case study house program
introduction  |  houses  |  architects


Not much more need be written about the Case Study House Program of Arts & Architecture. It has been documented by Esther McCoy wonderfully in "Modern California Houses; Case Study Houses, 1945-1962" (Reinhold, 1962; reissued as "Case Study Houses 1945-1962" by Hennessey & Ingalls, 1977) and fully and beautifully in recent books from TASCHEN Gmbh and M.I.T. Press. The TASCHEN C.S.H. book in particular is spectacular with full color photographs by Julius Shulman that the magazine couldn't afford to print. Here we offer the Case Study houses as they were presented in the magazine itself.

As I understand the origins of the program it was the outgrowth of endless discussions in the comfortably shabby editorial offices of Arts & Architecture where during WWII John Entenza and a number of relatively young architectural guns would talk about new ideas in residential design and construction that could only be talked about because of wartime service and restrictions. Among them were Ralph Rapson, John Rex, Richard Neutra, Charles Eames (before he and John fell out never to speak again; Eames was summarily removed from the masthead in January 1953), J.R. Davidson, Whitney Smith, Thornton Abell. These seven plus William Wurster and Sumner Spaulding (with John Rex) designed the first eight houses in the program.

The program announcement stated that each “house must be capable of duplication and in no sense be an individual 'performance'... It is important that the best material available be used in the best possible way in order to arrive at a ‘good’ solution of each problem, which in the overall program will be general enough to be of practical assistance to the average American in search of a home in which he can afford to live.” (The several CS Houses built high in the hills of Bel Air and Brentwood might seem a bit beyond the means of the average Joe and Jill but no matter to the purposes and integrity of the program.)

The announcement goes on, “...We of course assume that the shape and form of post war living is of primary importance to a great many Americans, and that...the house[s]... will be conceived within the spirit of our times, using as far as is practicable, many war-born techniques and materials best suited to the expression of man’s life in the modern world.” The houses were so conceived and realized.

I urge everyone to read the Case Study House Program announcement [PDF] from the January 1945 issue of Arts & Architecture.

As an end note, the peculiarities of the CSH numbering system are inexplicable, locked in the past. Not serious, perhaps, but perplexing to the researcher. Esther McCoy, as familiar with the CSH program as anyone, carefully avoided the problem by ignoring it in her fine book; she didn't number the house.  —David Travers

For a map of the locations of many still-existing Case Study Houses click here


click to download CSH Announcement PDF

click here for a map of CSH locations

home issues case houses about a&a architects contact