Tony Unruh to discuss Gregory Ain restoration in Silver Lake

Architect Tony Unruh will discuss the restoration of Gregory Ain's Orans House during an American Institute of Architects tour of the property.
(American Institute of Architects Los Angeles)

When Kathleen Nolen approached architect Tony Unruh about restoring her 1941 Silver Lake home by Midcentury great Gregory Ain, Unruh said he viewed the project as “bringing this masterpiece into the 21st century.”

For Ain, who grew up in Lincoln Heights and is best known for designing modern, affordable housing, the original assignment wasn’t so easy. He was commissioned to build the Orans House, as it is known, on a small, steep site surrounded by homes.


“He designed the house to step up the hill with sightlines that would avoid the view of the houses below and a living room with full glass panels to the backyard,” Unruh said.

Ain made the house feel larger by connecting the interiors to a patio. And in a quintessential L.A. design move, he created a U-shaped driveway that gave homeowners easier access to the house from a narrow, busy street.

Unruh remodeled the outdated bathrooms and kitchen, expanding the latter by just 16 square feet. “The new kitchen walls were designed to mimic the glass of the living area, and the space is now oriented towards the expanded backyard,” he said.

Tony Unruh will share more about the restoration process during a tour sponsored by the Los Angeles chapter of the American Institute of Architects, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday. Visitors will be assigned one of four tour times. Tickets are $25 to $35, and the tours are limited to 100 people.


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