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The Lovell Beach House: An Orange County Icon

Located on the Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach, the Lovell Beach House is considered one of the most important works by architect Rudolf Schindler. Located on the oceanfront near to The Wedge, the Lovell Beach House demonstrates an early use of concrete that predates the post-war Brutalist style in which concrete is left unsurfaced and the structure is distinct from the enclosure.

Exploring the Lovell Beach House

Completed in 1926, four years before his famous Schindler House, the Lovell Beach House was built by Rudolf Schindler as a show house and studio. Both the Lovell Beach House and the Schindler House are considered to be landmarks of early modern architecture in the United States. Schindler himself is mostly associated with the modern movement in architecture, with his signature style including the use of warm materials, striking colors and the inventive use of complex three-dimensional forms. He was also known for his ability to work within tight budgets. Most of his important works were built in or near Los Angeles in the early to mid-twentieth century.

Situated in a tightly-packed neighborhood of buildings, the living quarters on the west side of the Lovell Beach House are raised above ground. This design provides the structure with shelter on the west side. The space below features reinforced concrete frames in the shape of a figure 8. Meanwhile, two stairways pass through the opening and lead to the kitchen and main entry. Meanwhile, the garage is located on the north side while the garden is on the south side between the house and the beach.

The Interior of the Lovell Beach House is arranged around a two-story living/dining room. Features include full-height, curtain wall windows facing the ocean, a terrace on the ocean side over the garden and a dedicated breakfast area. The home also features lamps and built-in furniture that were all part of the original design. The bedrooms on the second floor are connected by a corridor that overlooks the main living room. The bedrooms originally had access to an open sleeping porch, but Schindler chose to close them in 1928.

History of the Lovell Beach House

The Lovell Beach House was built for Schindler’s client, Philip M. Lovell. Lovell was a proponent of healthy living, diet and exercise. Schindler incorporated these principles into the design of the home. The living quarters, for example, are placed on the north side of the home in order to maximize the circulation of fresh air, while the bedroom windows are placed in a way to create cross ventilation in order to eliminate the need for air conditioning.

The Los Angeles branch of the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) documented the Lovell Beach House in 1968. The house as it looks today is the same as the way it looked in the photograph. On February 5, 1974, the house was listed as a Registered Historic Place in California. A total of 122 properties and districts are listed on the National Register in Orange County, including two National Historic Landmarks. Properties listed on the National Register reflect the region’s Spanish, Native American and Mexican ethnic heritage.

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