Wednesday, March 19, 2008
1939 – Gregory Ain in collaboration with Visscher Boyd
2323 Micheltorena Street – map
Capping off this trifecta of modernist homes (with the previous Schindler and Neutra houses) is this 1939 Silverlake house designed by Gregory Ain in collaboration with Visscher Boyd. What gives this post almost perfect timing is Ain – “the first architect raised and educated in Los Angeles to work in the International Style” – would’ve celebrated his 100th birthday next Friday, March 28.
Gregory Ain was born in Pittsburgh, but moved with his family to Los Angeles in 1911 (in the 1960s he’d head back to PA to serve as the dean of Penn State’s School of Architecture). He studied math and physics for a couple of years at UCLA then switched to architecture at USC. After graduating in 1927, he moonlighted for Richard Neutra and even worked for Rudolf Schindler for a few weeks in 1932. According to The Architecture of Gregory Ain, his “first completed commission was for furniture, remodeling and an addition to Neutra’s 1934 Galka Scheyer house” in Hollywood.
Tierman House – built for Mr and Mrs Samuel Tierman – was the first Ain building to be recognized by the city’s Cultural Heritage Commission. What’s even more surprising is that what’s probably his most famous building, Dunsmuir Flats in Mid-Wilshire, has never been designated a landmark. I’m thinking there’s an obvious reason why it hasn’t made the cut, and that someone will point it out to me.
Gebhard and Winter, in their Los Angeles: An Architectural Guide, call HCM No. 124 “a very ingenious house”, but “essentially … a stucco box with an attached garage, one-story on the street, two-story on the garden side.” Of Ain’s three 1939 “masterpieces”, David Gebhard, Harriette Von Breton, and Lauren Weiss say the Tierman house “was geometrically purest.” “Here the square is made apparent by the strong 45º diagonals of the hipped roof and the termination of the square in a central skylight placed at the apex of the roof.”
Ain had the rare kick of living to see a pair of his works declared Los Angeles Landmarks; he had just turned 66 when his Tierman House was designated an HCM in 1974 (his Edwards House on Holly Oak Drive got its nod at No. 260 nine years later). He died in 1988.
Gebhard, David, Harriette Von Breton and Lauren Weiss. The Architecture of Gregory Ain Hennessey + Ingalls 1980 Santa Monica
Gebhard, David and Robert Winter. Los Angeles: An Architectural Guide Gibbs Smith 1994 Layton, Utah
Gleye, Paul. The Architecture of Los Angeles Rosebud Books 1981 Los Angeles
Up next: Fine Arts Building