Not Long for This World? - Page 5

Teardown threats loom for these twelve special California modern sites that hang on for dear life

Others on the edge

Among many other modern buildings in California facing threats in various ways, we should also mention the ten below:

Not Long for This World
Inside Wright's Bazett House—where the home’s unprotected status on coveted Hillsborough land raises concern about its future.

Bazett House, Hillsborough. Not only is this a superb example of Frank Lloyd Wright's simple, designed-for-everyman Usonian architecture, the home at 101 Reservoir Road inspired Joe Eichler to become a homebuilder when he lived there during 1944 and 1945. Nonetheless, located on valuable, highly coveted Hillsborough land, this home has no historic designation or other official protection. So a future owner could seek its demolition—but would likely face a fight with preservationists.

Park Merced, San Francisco: In one of the City's most unusual neighborhoods, this mix of low-rise and high-rise apartments from the mid-1940s, with landscaping by landscape architect Thomas Church, is slated to be rebuilt. The towers will remain, new ones added, and the low-rises demolished.

Sacramento Zoo: Looking for more room, zoo planners are considering a move away from the zoo's longtime home in William Land Park, where distinctive, parabolic buildings from the mid-'60s grace the entry. What would happen to the buildings?

LACMA, Los Angeles: The Los Angeles County Museum plans to demolish four buildings on its Wilshire Blvd. campus, including the original ones from 1964 by William Pereira.

San Pablo Civic Center: Walter Thomas Brooks designed this delightful blend of Spanish Colonial and Frank Lloyd Wright modern in 1980. Due to structural concerns, the Bay Area city plans to demolish all of it except for a recreated historic adobe.

First National Bank (formerly), San Jose: This bank, at 3888 Stevens Creek Blvd. by unknown designers, features a rock mosaic by South Bay artist Harry Powers. Plans call for its replacement by a large-scale development.

Kwik Way, Oakland: This once-popular, now-closed eatery at 599 Lake Park Ave. is one of several Googie restaurants that have recently died in Oakland. It will be replaced by housing.

Lytton Savings (formerly), Los Angeles: This 1960 bank, by architect Kurt Meyer with a folded-plate roof at 8150 Sunset Blvd., is slated to be replaced by a Frank Gehry-designed housing/retail complex with a roof that looks like twisted taffy.

Norm's, West Hollywood: In 2015, preservationists fought off plans to demolish this distinctive Armet & Davis Googie coffee shop. But fans of the style are keeping their eyes on the situation at 470 North La Cienega Blvd.—just in case.

United Nations Plaza, San Francisco: On a bright sunny day with waters splashing over granite, the fountain at the UN Plaza can appear grand. But too often it looks derelict, occupied by homeless people. The City plans to redo this 1975 plaza, radically altering or eliminating landscape architect Lawrence Halprin's design.


Photography: Heather David, Gretchen Steinberg, Sabrina Huang, Dave Weinstein, John Eng, Ian Chamberlain, Arthur Connell (courtesy UCLA Neutra Archive), Charles Hathaway, Debra Jane Seltzer, Julius Shulman (© J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles - 2004.R.10); and courtesy Armet-Davis-Newlove Architects, Adriene Biondo, Metropolitan Water District, Wikipedia Commons

Special thanks to Adriene Biondo for research assistance