VDL Research House II receives National Historic Landmark designation

The VDL Research House II and the original version of Painted Desert Visitors Center, AZ  have been chosen with 20 other historic sites by outgoing Secretary of Interior to NATIONAL HISTORIC LANDMARKS!

This is the highest level of appreciation for important Historic Sites and is a great honor for us here at the Institute!

The program is presided over by the National Park Service and LA This Week did a feature about the designations

Ironically, it was to this same honor that our Gettysburg Cyclorama Visiitors Center (same vintage as Painted Desert; 1960s) was nominated to, about 15 years ago with 20 other candidates. It was the only one NOT chosen at that time to be so honored!

Instead, some years later, the National Park Service presided over its destruction and grinding to powder on its site in 2013!

Check out Dion’s ebook available here about the Cyclorama’s destruction.



OCC Board elects to destroy at least two Neutra buildings

As of May, 2016 word has come down that the OCC board ‘after careful consideration’ elected to destroy at least two and maybe three of the original Neutra buildings the above petition was designed to save! We’d achieved over 350 signatures on this petition to that point, which were obviously insufficient to sway these vandals from their dastardly course!

This latest desecration of some of the few remaining Neutra examples, gave rise to a new Institute Project. We’re calling it

THE NEUTRA PRESERVATION WALL OF SHAME

On it will be emblazoned the names of the aggrieved projects, the date they were despoiled, and the names of the perpetrators, so that they can be publicly shamed for their lack of appreciation of the art objects of which they were supposed to be caring stewards!

Stay tuned for more new on this, and feel free to continue building up signatures on the above petition; 1000 would still be great!


Roberto Burle Marx’s only US example

In response to a NY Times article about Marx:

In the mid 50s our office designed a large residence in Havana. Through dad’s contacts, we somehow attracted Marx to offer a landscape design for that project.

In 1955, we were working on the LA Headquarters building for the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union. Dad convinced Marx that this would be a great opportunity for him to show his mural talents for LA. We have a picture of Marx putting the finishing touches on that piece;. the only live example of this man’s work in the US! It would appear that the paint was applied directly to the plastered surface, as opposed to a canvas being adhered.

Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America - Roberto Burle Marx

We have tried repeatedly to make contact with the current owner, who has avoided us; who knows why, but we suspect he does not want to know about this treasure in his midst for fear of the responsibility this might reveal. We’ve reported this to the Mural Program of the City, but no one seems to have an idea how and under what authority something might be done here.

First, of course, it would seem, an experienced archeologist should scrape the white painted surface to see if signs can be found of this art work underneath. But what if it’s true; what to do next? It is not practical to remove this wall with the plastered surface intact, I would say, altho with enough funding anything is possible. But what to do with it if and when? I don’t think this owner would want to be bothered, even if funding were found for a restoration.


Wanted: Information About Neutra Building Owners

If you know of a Neutra building, or if you OWN a Neutra building, please get in touch with the Institute and give us the latest information about the building and its current owner.

The Institute is assembling a database of all current Neutra building owners. Our goal is to create a mailing list for news about the preservation and conservation of what remains of the Neutra oeuvre.

If you have any information, please send it to Dion Neutra. Please include phone numbers, fax numbers, and e-mail addresses if available.


The amazing Neutras in Orange County

The original motivation for this show was the threat in 2010 to the Mariner’s Medical Arts Complex in Newport Beach, (still at risk). In 2016, we have the threat to several of our buildings at Orange Coast College, where the Board there has declared itself ready to destroy about three of the rare examples we were able to get built there in the early 50s Why? Not to build on their sites, but “to clear the center of the campus for a green area!” or for parking.

This is all scheduled for some time this year. Aside from individual letters to the college, we’ve come up with a petition whereby you can sign, making any remark you care to, about the value to history, to have these examples survive.

This would appear to be one of our last hopes; would 1000 signatures sufficiently impress these folks to pressure them to change course?


The “Enhance Silver Lake as Park” project

DION AND THE INSTITUTE’S UPDATED ECOLOGY GARDEN PLAN

Plans for the Silver Lake Ecology Garden

Read and Sign the petition

RAISE THAT RESERVOIR WORKING LEVEL 15-20′! BREAK UP THE VIEW ONTO THOSE UGLY BANKS!

Plan of Silver Lake pre 1950

No matter what part of the world you live in, you can vote to help us influence how this lake transitions to a Public Park within the next five or so years. Sign and get others to join in to overwhelm the City of Los Angeles with interest here, sufficient to make them pause with their plans to give these options serious consideration.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? Thanks for your support. Announce this to your Social Media outlets and contacts for support; make this go VIRAL!


Help Save Connell House

Update: 10/21/2016
Our 1958 Connell House in Pebble Beach continues to be in jeopardy, despite it’s having been listed on State and National lists as a valued asset. All this has not convinced the owner to back off her determined program of demolition and replacement by a McMansion. We continue to rely on local champion Sally Aberg for current status. She can be reached at forthecolors@comcast.net

URGENT! SUPPORT NEEDED NOW!

Our 1958 Connell house in Pebble Beach is in jeopardy! Funds are still needed to complete its nomination for National as well as State Monument status. The hope being that such would convince the current owner to move on, and find another site for its McMansion!

We continue to support the sterling efforts of Sally Abord, who has organized the fund raiser through:

amap1.org

Everyone; let’s join and pledge $10; more if you can! $3000 needed NOW!
Prevent another Gettysburg!


Demolition Derby

The recently demolished Samuel and Luella Maslon House in Rancho Mirage, California. Built in 1962 by modernist architect Richard Neutra.

Von Sternberg Residence: early 30s example of pioneering modernist design by Neutra. Destroyed in 1972 because of management issues and ultimately to house tract of houses.

Neutra designed Cyclorama building at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania demolished 2013.

Watch the video below of the $100,000,000 Sho Hondo Buddhist temple erected to last 1000 years in early 70s destroyed in 1998 because of displaced egos in religious community.

The Sands, Las Vegas: early example of Wayne McAllister design removed to make space for larger and more profitable hotel with no history.

Laemmle Building; Hollywood and Vine; 1934. Drastically altered starting about 1940; might as well have been demolished. Was finally lost in a fire in 2008. In Dion’s book ‘The North West Corner: Hollywood and Vine’ he proposes building a design he found that Neutra had rendered in 1926 for that same corner; an 8 story building called ‘the Hollywood Fashion Center’. That could replace the current surface parking lot there, with multiple levels of subterranean parking below.

Fine Arts Building: Cal State Northridge University. 1961. Damaged by Northridge earthquake of ’94; destroyed in ’97 rather than repair.

Pennsylvania Station, NYC 1915 McKim Mead and White . Destroyed 1965 Despite massive protests to build Madison Square Garden; itself being redeveloped as we speak, along with a new entrance to the subway station via a Library building across the street by the same architects.


Dodged a bullet?

I got an E from the current owner of our ’57 Nash house in Camarillo. He had an offer he was considering that would tear down this house for a more favorable use of this site of several acres. At 770K, could I produce a better offer by ‘the end of the week’?

This reminded me of just 50 years ago now; in 1972, I got a similar call regarding the von Sternberg house in the San Fernando Valley. I started to contact the AIA to see what could be done. Before I could get back to them, I heard the house had been demolished. Another similarity is our recent experience with the Kronish in Beverly Hills; again, the notion that empty land is more marketable than dealing with an icon. As of late 2016, we had evidence that this house has been restored albeit revised. No details of how, available yet. Site closed to public; owned by a shipping magnate.

I wrote the Nash owner back immediately asking for a stay of execution, and put the word out as broadly as I could. What a difference a half century makes as far as that is concerned!

As this week drew to a close, I had an indication that a realtor friend had produced an offer that had a chance of succeeding with a promise NOT to destroy! I remain guardedly optimistic that we may have dodged the bullet in this one, but there are at least a half dozen others that also hang in the balance. Check out my blog and our petitions to support some of them!

Update: 10/21/2016
As of late 2016, the Nash house was still intact, albeit saved with many interventions tolerated by the current owners who bought around 2013 and made some adjustments without consulting our office.