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

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

LOS ANGELES — Architectural preservationists were angry last week Spread the word That actor, Chris Pratt, and his wife, Katherine Schwarzenegger, daughter of the actor and former California governor, demolished the Zimmerman House, a mid-century home designed by Craig Elwood that supporters say was a symbol of 20th-century residential construction in the state.

The couple purchased the house and the roughly acre lot on which it sits, across the street from Schwarzenegger's mother Maria Shriver, in Los Angeles' Brentwood neighborhood last year for $12.5 million 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 the “modern farmhouse” style. (Ungar did not respond to a request for comment.)

Built in 1950, the Zimmerman House was a prime example of the cool, clean California Modernism pioneered by Elwood and his fellow architects including Richard Neutra, Pierre Koenig, and Charles and Ray Eames. The low-slung, 2,770-square-foot, five-bedroom house is light and open, with a central brick fireplace and large sliding glass doors that open to a backyard designed by famed landscape architect Garrett Ekbo, which was also destroyed.

“It is tragic that fine examples of mid-century modern architecture, especially examples designed by famous architects like Elwood, have been destroyed, as they are an important part of Los Angeles' mid-century modern architectural heritage,” said Elizabeth A. T. Smith, author of Taschen. 2002 book about Case study homesTell Hypersensitivity. (Case Study Homes) was a pilot program to design modern, inexpensive homes, sponsored by a company Arts and architecture magazine, which ran from 1945 until 1966.)

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Admirers of mid-century modernism made no secret of their anger, taking to social media to express their disdain for “Worst ChrisHe denounced the decision to demolish an architecturally significant property for another “McMansion.”

Talking to Los Angeles TimesThe architect's daughter, Irene Elwood, acknowledged that the Zimmerman House was an early work for her father, created before his style matured, but wondered whether there was “something more creative that could be done in the process of removing it.” It would have given her some honor.

“The problem is systemic,” said Liz Waitkus, executive director of Docomomo US, a nonprofit focused on architectural documentation and preservation. DesignAdding that “location and land value often trump architectural significance.”

Buildings in Los Angeles can get some protection from demolition or alteration by a Cultural historical monument hiring; However, this requires someone to nominate the property and see it through City Council approval. According to Adrian Fine, president and CEO of the Los Angeles Conservancy, there are too many significant buildings and not enough resources to pursue this designation for all suitable candidates.

What makes it more difficult is when the building owner is against pursuing the designation. “If you have an owner who is against it, it doesn't mean it can't happen, but you have to work harder,” he said. Hypersensitivity.

In 2013, the Conservancy led an effort to add ten significant sites Case study homes To the National Register of Historic Places, incl Case Study House No. 16the last intact residence Elwood designed for the program.

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“There are a limited number of homes designed by these architects,” Fine said. “As we continue to lose them, rescuing survivors becomes that much more important.”