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Outrage after actor Chris Pratt destroys iconic mid-century home in Los Angeles

Outrage after actor Chris Pratt destroys iconic mid-century home in Los Angeles


LOS ANGELES Architectural preservationists were outraged last week as the word has spread that actor Chris Pratt and his wife Katherine Schwarzenegger, daughter of the actor and former governor of California, had demolished the Zimmerman House, a mid-century home designed by Craig Ellwood that its defenders say was an icon of 20th century residential construction in the state.

The couple bought the house and the nearly one-acre lot it sat on, across the street from Schwarzenegger's mother, Maria Shriver, in Los Angeles' upscale Brentwood neighborhood last year for $12.5 million. dollars in an off-market sale. They commissioned architect Ken Ungar to replace the modest single-family home with a massive, two-story, 15,000-square-foot mansion in a modern farmhouse style. (Ungar did not respond to a request for comment.)

Built in 1950, the Zimmerman House was a prime example of the fresh, clean-cut California modernism pioneered by Ellwood and his fellow architects, including Richard Neutra, Pierre Koenig, and Charles and Ray Eames. The low-slung, 2,770-square-foot, five-bedroom home was characterized by light and openness, with a central brick fireplace and large sliding glass doors that opened to a courtyard designed by famed landscape architect Garrett Eckbo, which was also destroyed.

It's tragic when beautiful examples of mid-century modern architecture are destroyed, especially examples by well-known architects such as Ellwood, because they are such an important part of Los Angeles' mid-century modern architectural heritage , Elizabeth AT Smith, author of the book Taschens 2002. on the Case study housessaid Hyperallergic. (The “Case Study Houses” were an program to design modern, inexpensive houses, sponsored by Arts and architecture magazine, published from 1945 to 1966.)

Fans of mid-century modernism made no secret of their anger and took to social media to express their disdain towards the worst Chris and denouncing the decision to raze an architecturally significant property for another McMansion.

Addressing the Los Angeles Timesthe architect's daughter, Erin Ellwood, acknowledged that the Zimmerman House was an early work of her father, created before his style had matured, but wondered if there was something more creative that could have been done in the withdrawal process and that could have given it is an honor.

The problem is systemic, said Liz Waytkus, executive director of Docomomo US, a nonprofit focused on architectural documentation and conservation. The seasadding that location and land value often trump architectural significance.

Buildings in Los Angeles may have some protection from demolition or alteration through a historical and cultural monument designation; however, this requires someone to propose the property and have it approved by the city council. According to Adrian Fine, president and CEO of the Los Angeles Conservancy, there are simply too many significant buildings and not enough resources to achieve this designation for all relevant applicants.

What makes things even more difficult is when a building owner objects to the designation. If an owner objects, that doesn't mean it can't happen, but you have to work harder, he said. Hyperallergic.

In 2013, the Conservancy launched an effort to add ten Case study houses on the National Register of Historic Places, including Case Study House #16the last intact residence designed by Ellwood for the program.

There are a limited number of homes designed by these architects, Fine said. As we lose them, the survivors become all the more important to save.




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