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Message - LaJolla Modern Landmark Headed for Destruction - Can you help?

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Posted by  JD on June 04, 2003 at 22:07:47:

Dear modern architecture enthusiasts,

In March of 2002 Richard Neutra's Maslon House, built in 1963 in Rancho Mirage was sold for $2.45 million. It was destroyed less than a month later. Newspapers across the nation carried the story, lamenting the loss of an architecturally significant property and expressing shock at how such a thing could have happened "before anyone realized it was even going on."

It's about to happen again, and for much the same reasons -- the "visionary" owners of yesterday are aging and unable to keep up with the house and the changed taste in values luxury properties are about to result in the demolition of yet another modern icon.


Location:
La Jolla, California
2 blocks north of Kellogg Park, 1 block south of Scripps Institute of Oceanography, acrosss the street from the beach.

Architects:
Simpson & Gerber. Project architects: Art Simpson and Haley Hodnett
Design date: 1972-3

The House:
This quintessential example of west-coast modern architecture, is, for La Jolla, a medium-sized house of approximately 3,800 sq. feet, across the street from the beach in the Kellogg Tract (parents opted for non-beachfront property for privacy and erosion issues). Lavender-grey horizontal (semi-opaque) redwwood siding, simply wild windows (window lines were marked and cut after the framing was up in order to "properly frame the view"), including a prismatic living-room window in an arcing diamond pattern that rises from 11 to 44 feet to bridge the mezzanine floor with the second floor bedrooms and family room.

(Don't stop reading, but please see the following page for images of the house: Dear modern architecture enthusiasts,

In March of 2002 Richard Neutra's Maslon House, built in 1963 in Rancho Mirage was sold for $2.45 million. It was destroyed less than a month later. Newspapers across the nation carried the story, lamenting the loss of an architecturally significant property and expressing shock at how such a thing could have happened "before anyone realized it was even going on."

It's about to happen again, and for much the same reasons -- the "visionary" owners of yesterday are aging and unable to keep up with the house and the changed taste in values luxury properties are about to result in the demolition of yet another modern icon.
Dear modern architecture enthusiasts,

In March of 2002 Richard Neutra's Maslon House, built in 1963 in Rancho Mirage was sold for $2.45 million. It was destroyed less than a month later. Newspapers across the nation carried the story, lamenting the loss of an architecturally significant property and expressing shock at how such a thing could have happened "before anyone realized it was even going on."

It's about to happen again, and for much the same reasons -- the "visionary" owners of yesterday are aging and unable to keep up with the house and the changed taste in values luxury properties are about to result in the demolition of yet another modern icon.


Location:
La Jolla, California
2 blocks north of Kellogg Park, 1 block south of Scripps Institute of Oceanography, acrosss the street from the beach.

Architects:
Simpson & Gerber. Project architects: Art Simpson and Haley Hodnett
Design date: 1972-3

The House:
This quintessential example of west-coast modern architecture, is, for La Jolla, a medium-sized house of approximately 3,800 sq. feet, across the street from the beach in the Kellogg Tract (parents opted for non-beachfront property for privacy and erosion issues). Lavender-grey horizontal (semi-opaque) redwwood siding, simply wild windows (window lines were marked and cut after the framing was up in order to "properly frame the view"), including a prismatic living-room window in an arcing diamond pattern that rises from 11 to 44 feet to bridge the mezzanine floor with the second floor bedrooms and family room.

(Don't stop reading, but please see the following page for images of the house: http://www.studiosaid.com/commercial/masek/)

Design concepts include "shadow paintings" - 900 sq feet of multilevel, multiangle white walls designed to play with the varying tones of light cast by the main window arrays as well as strategically placed "spotlighting" mini window inserts designed to capture all of the plays of natural light in this home. Also featured are unique "air portals" to provide natural cross-ventillation throughout the house. An "indoor garage" for children and hobbyists - a room with many electrical outlets, an unfinished floor and good lighting allows for a painting studio, a woodworking shop, and a gardener's haven all within the house and within "spoken word" of the kitchen. This room, as well as the ground-floor guest room was designed to be easily converted to a "mother-in-law" apartment (both contain appropriate gas and electrical foundations).

This home was the second home designed for the Masek family by Simpson and Gerber and, like its antecedent, was designed to be a "La Jolla home", highlighting the beautiful weather and bringing the indoor and outdoor environments into one harmonious whole. 6 exterior access points, most of them french doors, provide broad access to the beautiful, private yard and pool as well as natural "air conditioning points" that keep the house comfortable on the hottest days. The gallery/sunroom provides passive solar warmth during the cool months.

Built in 1972, designed by the architectural firm Simpson & Gerber, this house was one of the foundation houses of a modern architecture movement characterized by Dirk Sutro as the "West Coast Wave" (see Sutro, Dirk. West Coast Wave. New California houses. N.Y., 1994. 169 pp.). Featured in the Los Angeles Times Home Magazine (8-page article) and Architecture and Allied Design, An Environmental Perspective by Anthony Antoniades, this is an AIA award-winning house with a heritage. Later designs drawing on the appointments of this house and its antecedent (see below) include the Sea Ranch development (AIA 25 Year Gold Medal Award in 1991). The horizontal gray siding and azure blue asphalt tile of this home and the previous home designed by Simpson & Gerber for this family have become contemporary standards (both were AIA award winners). Indeed, the royal blue asphalt tile used in the previous owner/architect collaboration was developed, new dye and form, specifically for the previous AIA award-winning project which was bulldozed 6 months after the new owners took possession.)

Appointments:
White walls throughout. Floorings: Ground floor, oiled teak parquet floor (to handle beach sand/traffic); mezzanine (living room) bleached oak, with dark grooving; 2nd story, either w/w carpet (various colors, beige, white, cream) or white ash; stairs, aged ashwood. 4 BR/3 BA, Fam Rm w/ fireplace, LR, DR, Playroom, Sunroom, 2-car garage with 3-car exterior pad, solar-panel heated pool. Large private yard with family/entertaining space, vegetable garden, fruit trees and pool. Side yard with exterior hot water shower (great for both boards and bodies home from the beach) Main window arrays: silicone-seal joins providing whimsically angled windows with amazing views from San Clemente to Mexico. Entrance from front door to living room (up 10 stairs) has always been described by the architects as the oh-my-God-spot: entrance to a 2 1/2-story explosion of light, shadow and whatever the sky happens to doing at the moment. Very impressive. After over 20 years it still takes my breath away when I walk in the door.

Who am I:
The daughter of the family. I am trying to offer this house to enthusiasts before a developer, spec builder, or simply a moneyed fool comes to buy the property and build another appalling psuedo-mediterannean mac-mansion, property-line to property-line on this piece of land. I am trying to alert those who might care that an architecturally significant property is about to go under the axe and hoping that someone who really loves this stuff will grab it before some idiot knocks it down and we end up reading about it as a done deal in the LA Times, lamenting opportunities lost. See:
http://www.latimes.com/features/lifestyle/la-041102neutra.story
http://www.designcommunity.com/discussion/17479.html

What do I want:
See above AND -- ok, you don't have the million plus to grab this -- to whom should I be sending this message (and with what alterations?)? Send me a message. Tell me what to do. I will not get in the way of my parents real need to get out of this house, but I would really like to at least offer it to a group that might appreciate its historical, architectural, environmental beauty before the usual San Diego County developers swoop in. There is not much time in which action may occur, and quick action will be needed. I don't want to hear 3 weeks after escrow closes and the house falls to the bulldozers that "no one knew."

Local real estate analysts (some 6 of them) have all delivered the same response: This house will sell for 1.6 million to 2 million, cash deal, and it will be strictly as a tear-down. "Don't invest anything in getting it ready for sale. Sell it "as is" and let them rip it down." All they want is the Kellogg property and they'll build another 7,000 sq ft minimanse, right to the edge of the property lines with all of the spa-tubs and gold faucets that everyone wants in a luxury property these days.

Are you interested in preserving an icon of modern architecture? Do you know someone who might be? Can you suggest a mailing list I could post this on that might find someone who would be interested? Can you suggest editorial comments that I should change on the text before I post this elsewhere? I really don't want to see this house fall to the bulldozers the way that the first one did. We all put a huge amount of love and design into these houses (our family served as our own general contractor, and did all of the electrical work ourselves) and it breaks our hearts to see them fall to the current wave of pseudo-mediteranean manse that passes for taste -- the two lots on either side of this house have just come on the market with spec houses with an asking price of over 3 million dollors each - both built to the property lines and NO advantage of SoCal weather, outdoors, etc., all indoor square footage because that's "what counts" in the luxury market today.

Can you help?

Best regards,
Jennifer
jdmasek@yahoo.com

 
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