Last week, demolition began (or at least began to be noticed) at the sunny yellow, three-bedroom house in Cheviot Hills that science fiction writer Ray Bradbury called home for more than 50 years. And it turned out that the property's new owner—the person who had ordered the demolition—is renowned architect Thom Mayne, the founder of the LA-based firm Morphosis (known most recently around Los Angeles for the sleek Emerson College campus in Hollywood). So Bradbury's old house definitely won't be replaced with a McMansion; Mayne doesn't have final plans yet for the new residence he'll build on the property, but we've found out he does have some very compelling ideas in the works, including a tribute to Bradbury.
The process isn't so much a demolition as a disassembling, a rep for Morphosis tells Curbed—the house is actually being taken apart so that the pieces can be recycled for future use in new projects—something that the director of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies applauds in an overall approving letter to Mayne.
Initial reports suggested that something very modern and big, possibly including an underground swimming pool, would take the place of Bradbury's old home, but a rep for Morphosis tells Curbed that designs for the house have not been solidified yet; construction is not planned to begin until at least 2017, so it'll probably be a while until there are more details. (Curbed is waiting to hear from Morphosis why, if construction is so far off, the disassembly is happening now. Updated 1/21: the official word from Morphosis is that the deconstruction takes a longer time than traditional razing, so the process has started so that construction is able to begin as soon as possible.)
Mayne did share a few details last week with the blog for the book publisher Melville House, saying that "our house isn't going to be ordinary—our house is going to be a garden ... [a] prototype that is landscape-neutral and water friendly." But it will be completely invisible to passers-by—the new structure will have what sounds like a giant wall surrounding it, blocking the house from sight, and etched with the titles of Bradbury's books.
That's right, Thom Mayne is actually kind of a Bradbury fan. He says that he was surprised no one wanted to to save the house after the writer's death in 2012. (The property was sold by a foundation; the Bradbury family hasn't made an official comment on the demolition or spoken personally to Mayne.) It's been quite the opposite, actually—after hearing that Mayne had bought the Bradbury place, the head of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies is supportive of the destruction. Mayne says he was shocked that the house itself was so ordinary and unremarkable architecturally. He was even more surprised that there was such a backlash against the disassembly of the structure: "Maybe I'm naive. But it's really been a bummer," he says, but doesn't seem to have any regrets, adding later, "For what it's worth, I feel quite comfortable."
· Why was Ray Bradbury's home demolished? An interview with architect Thom Mayne [MH]
· Starchitect Thom Mayne is Tearing Down Ray Bradbury's Cheviot Hills House Right Now [Curbed LA]