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Aluminum House Declared a Landmark

The architect dubbed his house “El Paradiso,” and an early news report noted one reason why.

“At last,” a Times headline from 1964 read, “a house for people who hate to paint.”

Renowned L.A. architect Raphael Soriano broke new ground with his decision to use aluminum and glass instead of wood, plaster and stucco.

Now Soriano’s aluminum house has been declared a Historic-Cultural Monument by the city’s Cultural Heritage Commission.

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Albert and Simonne Grossman, who were friends of Soriano, have lived in the aluminum dwelling at 11468 Dona Cecilia Drive since 1964.

“All I do is wash windows,” Albert Grossman is fond of telling guests, “and the place is just as good as the day it was built.”

In fact, El Paradiso was not as much built as it was assembled.

The aluminum framework and 28 glass doors (all 5 by 8 feet) came complete from a factory, and the modern, functional appointments are of easy-care materials such as Formica, terrazzo and cork.

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Soriano died in 1988 at the age of 83, leaving a pioneering legacy of metal-framed houses conceived in a staunchly Modernist style that emphasized flat roofs and ribbon windows.

In addition to the Grossmans’ house, Soriano is known for the Case Study House in Pacific Palisades and the Julius Shulmas house in the Hollywood Hills, also a city landmark.

The city’s list, started in the early part of the century, now includes about 625 landmarks.

The Grossmans’ house will officially be added to the list when the City Council gives its approval in early 1997, said the Cultural Heritage Commission’s executive assistant Nancy Fernandez.

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Not only did Soriano design sturdy places to live--all of which have survived strong earthquakes--but he was ahead of his time, Grossman said.

“People today call houses modern if they have windows that close automatically,” he said.

“But this house, this is modern. Modern is not electronic.”


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