The owner of nearly 5 acres of land within Runyon Canyon Park wants to build a glassy mansion in the park’s boundaries.
The home would rise just off of Runyon Canyon Road, which meanders southward through the park from Mulholland Drive. More than 11,000 square feet in size, it would have a contemporary design style with two levels and a basement—all partially sunken into the surrounding hillside, planning documents published by the city of Los Angeles this week show.
It wouldn’t be the first building constructed on the property. In the 1940s, George Huntington Hartford II, heir to the A&P supermarket chain, and his business partner, George W. Headley, recruited Frank Lloyd Wright and his son, Lloyd Wright, to design a resort and hotel on the parcel.
Community remembers resisted the plans, and the project was abandoned. But Headley later commissioned the younger Wright to build a private residence on the site. The architect later assisted then-owner Alan Handley with additions to the structure. A pool house (also designed by Lloyd Wright) burned down in the 1970s, but the home and the swimming pool itself remain intact.
The entire property hit the market in 2010 and sold four years later for $2.2 million. According to plans, owner Manuel Valencia, will leave the Wright-designed edifice intact. Declared a city landmark in 1992, the three-bedroom residence would serve as a guest house once the project is completed.
Land use consultant Nicole Kuklok-Waldman, who is advising Valencia on the project, tells Curbed that the new home is not a speculative investment.
“He’s living in the existing house now,” says Kuklok-Waldman of Valencia. “He plans to move into the new one with his family.”
Designed by Ameen Ayoub, the home has the contemporary aesthetic of a spec house, though its partly camouflaged exterior makes it less showy than a typical megamansion.
In a statement, Ayoub says he designed the residence to be “thoughtful and respectful and fully aware of its natural and historic surroundings.” Hikers in the park, he says, would barely notice it.
Both Ayoub and Kuklok-Waldman stress that the development won't do much to change how the park looks and feels. Though Valencia's property includes parts of walking trails used by visitors, Kuklok-Waldman says these won't be affected by the project and that the developer “completely supports the public use of the property.”
In spite of these assurances, the unusual location of the project and its sheer scale could put it in the crosshairs of community groups and preservationists.
Anticipating this, Kuklok-Waldman says that Valencia and his consultants have already contacted local organizations and the office of Los Angeles City Councilmember David Ryu about the project, and plan to do further community outreach as an environmental review of the plans is completed.
“He wanted to go in with his cards on the table,” Kuklok-Waldman says.