Overview

The Eames House, designed by Charles and Ray Eames in 1949, and located in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles, is an iconic work of modern architecture. The GCI is working with the Eames Foundation to understand and assess the current condition of the house, its contents, and setting, and to assist in the development of a long-term conservation management plan that includes a maintenance program. The project will address a number of interrelated conservation issues that include:

Material Investigation, Analysis, and Environmental Climate Control
Conservation Management Planning
Long-term Care and Conservation
The Eames Foundation, which is responsible for the house, is intent on providing a long-term sustainable approach to the care of the site, buildings, and contents in their care. The Eames House Conservation Project aims to demonstrate how existing conservation approaches can be applied to cultural heritage sites of the modern era.
The GCI is currently investigating and examining the environmental conditions of the house with scientific analysis of the material fabric, including paint finishes and wood treatments, with assistance from conservators of the Getty Museum.

Background

The Eames House, also known as Case Study House No. 8, is one of a group of five houses located in Pacific Palisades, California, belonging to the influential Case Study Program initiated by John Entenza, editor of Arts and Architecture magazine to promote new models of affordable mass-producible housing utilizing technology of the modern age. The site, house, studio, and contents, which ceased to be used as a house upon the death of Ray Eames in 1988, tell a remarkable story about the architecture of this period, including the role of Californian modernism within an international context, and provide an intimate view into the life of its occupants, opening a new understanding about the human side of modernism.
In September 2011, the contents of the Eames House living room were temporarily relocated to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) for exhibit until June 2012. This provided the impetus to address various issues relating to the general wear and tear on the house since its construction in 1949. The Eames Foundation is developing a program of conservation and repair with a view to addressing issues relating to the building envelope, living room flooring, steel frame windows, and other interior fabric issues. In addition, the Eames Foundation seeks to develop a long-range strategy for the ongoing conservation, maintenance, and display of the house, which includes investigative and analytical work, in order to understand the current condition of the house, its contents, its setting, and optimal condition requirements to develop strategies and meet long-term conservation needs. The Eames Foundation has engaged project architect Escher GuneWardena Architecture (EGA) to oversee the current program of work at the house. EGA will also work with the GCI and the Eames Foundation to develop the conservation management plan for the house.

Project Goals

The Eames House Conservation Project has the following goals:

  1. To advance the practice of conserving modern houses in general through the practical demonstration of the Eames House, via dissemination, education, and capacity building
  2. To provide general advice to the Eames Foundation on the conservation of the house, contents, and setting commensurate with international best practice for conserving modern architecture
  3. To provide technical expertise, knowledge, and scientific analysis and research on specific material issues of the house for immediate conservation needs to guide long-term maintenance. This includes, for example, an understanding of the paint systems, colors, and wood finishes used in the house, for both historic purposes and to assist in developing appropriate strategies for ongoing repainting
  4. To build on the GCI's work on managing collections in hot, humid, and marine climates and to understand the current environment in and around the house for the specific purpose of developing ideal conservation conditions that meet the needs of the Eames Foundation in terms of interpretation and presentation
  5. To assist the Eames Foundation in developing a framework for long-term conservation, maintenance, and care of the house, contents and setting, by jointly preparing a conservation management plan and a maintenance plan and schedule
  6. To disseminate information on the project, lessons learned, and applicability to other projects

Last updated: March 2012