Thursday, November 8, 2007

Kaufmann House Up for Auction

The Kaufmann House, a 1946 glass, steel and stone landmark built on the edge of Palm Springs by the architect Richard Neutra, has twice been at the vanguard of new movements in architecture — helping to shape postwar Modernism and later, as a result of a painstaking restoration in the mid-1990s, spurring a revived interest in mid-20th-century homes.

Now it's on the auction block with a presale estimate of $15 million to $25 million.

Such auctions are bringing a new level of scrutiny to a form that, little more than a decade ago, attracted so little notice that the Kaufmann House was being offered for sale as a teardown.

Although some preservationists would prefer that the houses like this one be tended by a public institution or trust that guarantees continued access for architecture students and scholars, one of the owners of the Kaufmann House, Beth Harris, begs to differ.

“It’s an odd thing, but the more money this house goes for, the better it is for preservation in my point of view,” she said. “I think it will encourage other people who have the income to go out and get places like these to restore, rather than just looking for some pretty palace somewhere.”

If it can get people to stop razing MCM houses to build McMansions, I hope she makes a bundle.

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