Overview

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

Material Investigation, Analysis, and Treatment
Environmental Monitoring and Climate Control
Conservation Management Planning

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 collections in their care. The Eames House Conservation Project aims to demonstrate the applicability of established conservation approaches to cultural heritage sites of the modern era.

Background

The Eames House was constructed as Case Study House No. 8, under Arts and Architecture magazine's influential Case Study House program. Initiated by John Entenza, the publication's editor, the program was devised to promote the design and construction of innovative, low-cost, prototypical modern houses that would serve the needs of postwar families.


Set on a bluff above Pacific Coast Highway, Case Study House No. 8 consists of two structures, a living space and a working space, connected by an open courtyard. The house and studio, which are nestled between a hillside and a row of stately eucalyptus trees, enjoy views across a wide meadow to the ocean beyond. The standard, light, factory steel framing forms a delicate web, which is filled with a variety of materials—transparent and translucent glass, and opaque panels, some brightly painted and others a soft gray. The house is filled with a diverse array of furnishings and objects that Ray and Charles Eames collected throughout their lives. Toys, folk art, brightly colored textiles, seashells, and stones sit comfortably alongside antiques, abstract expressionist paintings, and Eames-designed furnishings.


The house and studio, including the living room and kitchen interior furnishings, appear today much as they upon Ray Eames's death in 1988.

The site, house, studio, and interior collections tell a remarkable story about the architecture of this period, including the role of California 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.

From September 2011 to June 2012, the contents of the Eames House living room were temporarily relocated to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) for exhibit. . This provided the Eames Foundation with the impetus to address various issues relating to the general wear and tear on the house since its construction in 1949 and catalyzed the foundation's partnership with the Getty Conservation Institute.


Project 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 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: January 2015