The Santa Monica City Council voted last night to grant an appeal and overturn landmark status for SCI-Arc's first home on Nebraska Avenue, which is how SCI-Arc founder Ray Kappe apparently wanted it. The city's Landmarks Commission made the site a landmark in February 2008 based on its relationship with SCI-Arc and Kappe, its reflection of the neighborhood's development, and its architectural merits, which include what the Commission's action says is a "late Bauhaus, mid-century fenestration pattern."
The appeal was made by NMS Properties Inc., apartment developers who own the building, on the basis that "the structure is a common example of a utilitarian, vernacular industrial building that has been significantly altered. It is not unique in design or rare architecturally." Way harsh. A lawyer for the appellants said at last night's meeting that "Mr. Kappe himself concluded that the significance of SCI-arc should not be an impediment to the removal of the building for new uses, and that an interpretive display would be most appropriate."
A few residents did argue against the appeal on the basis that the Landmark Commission's decision was unanimous and that architectural relevance isn't necessary for landmark designation.
The building at 3030-3060 Nebraska Avenue was built in 1951 as a light industrial building. SCI-Arc moved in at its founding in 1972 and held the space until 1992. It now houses offices, studio spaces, and classrooms. A report from the Director of Planning and Community Development on the appeal describes it thus: "The structure is composed of steel frame, concrete, and exterior stucco sheathing and is capped by a corrugated aluminum and a sawtooth roof with clerestory windows. Fenestration consists primarily of steel-framed fixed and casement windows on upper stories; original windows have been replaced with vinyl sliders on the ground floor of the north-facing elevation."
· Appeal of Landmarks Commission Designation of the Commercial Building Located at 3030-3060 Nebraska Avenue as a City Landmark [City of Santa Monica]