Wednesday, March 19, 2008

No. 124 - Tierman House

Tierman House

Tierman House
1939 – Gregory Ain in collaboration with Visscher Boyd
2323 Micheltorena Street – map
Declared: 4/3/74

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.

Tierman House

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

Tierman House

Working much on low and mid-cost housing, Ain did nearly all his life’s designing for Southern California. With so many of his works in L.A., I’m sort of surprised the 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.

Tierman House

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.”

Tierman House

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.

Tierman House


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


Nathan said...

I don’t know why Dunsmuir isn’t a landmark. It seems like a slam-dunk. (But then the other day I was wondering why when you mentioned the Lovell Health Beach House it wasn’t a landmark [but then I read this and I guess it’s unlandmarkable due to porch enclosuring]. Anyway.)

I would guess that folks are underwhelmed by the Ain house and’re all, like, if I drove by that, I’d be about as excited by it as, say, the Cohn-Goldwater. I recommend that people go to THE LIST and click on the vintage photo (ca. 1973 I suppose) which shows the Tierman in its truer state, I think. I’m not so sure the “shingle” roof shows the house off in the way Ain intended—but then I suppose we wouldn’t know without an image from 1939. And then there’s those paving stones. And the chimney cap. And the greenish paint. Like the wall and railing though.

Floyd B. Bariscale said...

Hey, Nathan. I went back and added that shot from the city's Dept of Planning site like I should've done in the first place. Thanks. I agree with everything you said, including liking the wall/railing. My guess, though, is those aren't replaced paving stones but rather the grass has overgrown in between them. And, of course, this picture was taken - I'm betting - after designation, so the 1939 version was probably even different. Nonetheless, I'll drink to Ain next Friday. And to something else next Saturday.

Oh, and while the Newport Beach Lovell House can't be an L.A. HCM, of course, it is on the Register of Historic Places. Maybe Dunsmuir is altered too much from the original?

soraya said...

Can anyone tell me who now owns the tierman house? I lived in that house with marilyn tierman who has passed away and wondered if her son steve lives there?

Anonymous said...

Dunsmuir Flats is nowhere near Baldwin Hills... its in "Mid City"

Floyd B. Bariscale said...

Corrected, Anonymous.