After a short day of demolition, the Lloyd Wright-designed Moore House in Palos Verdes Estates is gone. The city council denied an LA Conservancy appeal of the demo last night and the Conservancy's Director of Communications Cindy Olnick tells us she's just heard from the city that the deed is now completely done. The winged and glassy house (tour it here) was built in 1959 and stood out in its neighborhood of Mediterraneans; the current owner bought it in 2004 and says he never even knew who Wright was (he's the son of Frank Lloyd Wright and an accomplished modern architect, FYI). For years now the owner has been trying to tear the house down and build a Mediterranean-style house with a pool. The city threw up a roadblock in 2010, saying the project would require a lengthy environmental impact report process. The EIR, which found that the house was eligible for the National Register of Historic Resources, was finally approved by the planning commission in December 2011, according to Olnick. The Conservancy appealed "on the basis that the EIR was flawed, since it didn't include a single bone fide preservation alternative (among other flaws)."
By requirement, the EIR considered several alternatives to demolishing the house, including moving it, leaving it as is, or partially reusing it. It rejected all of those as inadequate based on the project objectives. The Conservancy's Director of Advocacy Adrian Scott Fine testified last night that "two of the five objectives – calling for a new home that meet the owner’s personal aspirations and of a design within the Mediterranean style -- are so narrowly defined and subjective as to essentially eliminate and limit any possibility of their being met by a preservation alternative and outcome." He added that none of the alternatives considered met the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for preservation anyway, and that the Conservancy's own analysis found that another option, a "sensitive addition," would have met many of the requirements for the project and for preservation. The appeal last night was denied and demo work started today.
According to a staff report on the matter, the owner plans to build a 5,935 square foot, two-story house with attached parking. And today's irony: back when Dr. Louis Moore commissioned the house from Wright, he supposedly pointed to another house in the neighborhood and told the architect "I don't want a big square house like that one."
· Can Lloyd Wright's Moore House Be Replaced By a Mediterranean? [Curbed LA]
· MOORE HOUSE DEMOLISHED [LA Conservancy]