West Hollywood’s Schindler House is a designated historic landmark -- but what about the house next door?
Earlier this year, a local developer planning a condominium project for 825 Kings Road, a property adjacent to the Schindler House, met with “Architectural Resistance.” That’s the name of a competition sponsored by the MAK Center for Art and Architecture, which uses the Schindler House as its headquarters. MAK invited architects to submit alternative proposals for the site, to present to a jury that included Frank Gehry and Richard Koshalek, director of Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design. All of those proposals -- including the three winning designs, by Odile Decq, Eric Owen Moss and Carl Pruscha -- were organized into an August exhibition, “A Tribute to Preserving Schindler’s Paradise,” at the house.
Since none of the designs was likely to be built, the organizers of “Architectural Resistance” termed it a “non-competition,” saying they hoped presenting the ideas would open a public debate about architecture and social values. But developer Richard Loring resented -- and continues to resent -- the implication that his condos, designed by Culver City’s Lorcan O’Herlihy, are bringing mediocrity to “Schindler’s Paradise.” “The whole thing is almost obscene,” he fumes. “The real story is that a developer comes in and, instead of building 23 units at four stories, decides to build 18 units at two stories, just to minimize the impact on Schindler House. We’re sacrificing a retail value north of 3 million bucks. We should be applauded instead of them jumping around like a bunch of little monkeys with their stupid projects. I know that doesn’t sound good, but I’ve had it.”
Now the developer has another problem: a Kings Road resident, along with another individual, has filed a nomination with the City of West Hollywood to designate the single-family house standing on the 825 property as a local cultural resource that cannot be torn down. The pair have also filed nominations for five other Kings Road properties. Now Loring must wait for the Preservation Commission of West Hollywood to review the filing before the condo project can proceed to review by the city. The commission review will take place in January or February, says John Keho, senior planner for the city of West Hollywood.
In the meantime, those still curious about the designs presented by the “architectural resistance” can see them in book form in “Architectural Resistance: Contemporary Artists Face Schindler Today.” The book, published by Hatje Gantz, is available only at the Schindler House bookstore and will be distributed to architectural bookstores nationwide in 2004.
Developer Loring has not seen the book but offers this review: “It’s a book of nothing.”
-- Diane Haithman