The first thing you notice about Case Study Houses: The Complete CSH Program, 1945-1966 is its size: it's big. Contained within its 16-inch frame is the history of Arts & Architecture magazine's famed program created to inspire the building of low-cost modern homes in America. The brainchild of magazine editor John Entenza, the program drew well-known architects including Charles Eames, Eero Saarinen, and Richard Neutra. Throughout the book are spectacular photographs of modernist glass- and patio-filled homes. Most of the homes were built in the Los Angeles area and make wonderful use of the surrounding scenery. A 17-foot-tall front door opens up onto a canal; streamlined Herman Miller furniture fills out a living room that overlooks a breathtaking panorama. While not all the projects were built, each received a detailed spread in the magazine, including drawings and models. Some of the architectural drawings are lovely, drawn with the movement and fluidity of a master. Included are short biographies of each architect, a provocative epilogue by photographer Julius Shulman, and the reprinted original magazine pages that announce the birth of the Case Study idea. This book is a true gem, and considering its size it's the Hope diamond. --J.P. Cohen --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Los Angeles is full of fantastic residential architecture in styles running all over from Spanish Colonial Revival to Streamline Moderne. But the modernist Case Study Houses, sponsored by Arts & Architecture and designed between the mid-1940s and mid-1960s, are both native to SoCal and particularly emblematic of the region (thanks in huge part to photographer Julius Shulman). The houses were intended to be relatively affordable, replicable houses for post-World War II family living, with an emphasis on "new materials and new techniques in house construction," as the magazine's program intro put it. Architects involved included the still-widely-remembered (Charles Eames, Richard Neutra) and the known-only-to-archinerds (JR Davidson, Thornton Abell).
A&A ended up commissioning 36 houses and apartment buildings; a couple dozen were built, and about 20 still stand in the greater Los Angeles area (there's also one in Northern California, a set near San Diego, and one in Phoenix), although some have been remodeled. Eleven were added to the National Register in 2013. Here's a guide to all the houses left to see (but keep in mind that, true to LA form, most are still private residences; the Eames and Stahl Houses—the two most famous Case Study Houses—are occasionally open to visitors).
As for the wonky house numbering, post-1962 A&A publisher David Travers writes that the explanation is "inexplicable, locked in the past."