2018 Palladio Awards
Adaptive Reuse and/or Sympathetic Addition
Project: 1925 Mediterranean Revival Estate
Winner: Michael Burch Architects
When Michael Burch, AIA, of Michael Burch Architects, saw the architect George Washington Smith’s 1925 Mediterranean Revival masterpiece in Los Angeles, his first thought was to remove the additions and restore it to its original iconic footprint.
The new owners, however, had other ideas. Although they had no use for the large, pink stucco Art Nouveau disco addition, they needed its extra footage. They also wanted to keep the circa 1940s flat-roofed elevator addition that severely compromised the facade.
“The 17,000-square-foot house is an extremely important example of the work of Smith, who is called the Father of the Spanish Colonial Revival style, and it’s one of the few examples of his work in Los Angeles,” Burch says. “I looked to his original design intent, and I tried to imagine what he would have done in that situation.”
The disco wing also housed a master bedroom with a mirrored ceiling and a bathroom that possessed Pre-Raphaelite stained-glass windows. “The owner wanted to keep the disco’s double-height sliding glass doors overlooking the swimming pool,” Burch says. “This requirement posed a particularly difficult design problem.”
Burch referenced the main gallery of a Venetian palazzo to create a three-story mahogany frame with leaded-glass windows. He also replaced the disco’s black-and-white marble floor with Venetian-style terrazzo, poured without control joints over a thickened concrete slab to prevent cracking. New cast-stone columns, pilasters, door surrounds, and a stenciled boxed-beamed ceiling complete the classic detailing.
Burch reimagined the elevator addition has a campanile to enhance the composition of the façade and remodeled the pool house and swimming pool in the style of the original architecture.
These alterations, along with a kitchen renovation that includes a series of vaulted spaces reminiscent of the ground-floor utility area of an Italian palazzo, take the house back to the time period during which it feels most at home.
Key Products, Materials & Suppliers
Doors and Windows: Sierra Window Co., Nevada City, California
Cast Stone: Classical Building Arts, Temple City, California
Plasterwork: Dave Davis Plastering, Newhall, California
Stenciling: Chameleon Paint Works, Santa Monica, California
Cabinetry: Martin & Carter, Los Angeles, California
Electrical: Bonded Electric, Los Angeles, California