Beverly Hills threatened by ‘McMansions’

on Jan 03 in Uncategorized by

Diane Keaton, actress and conservationist, describes Los Angeles as being 72 suburbs in search of a city. Where is the city centre? She says it’s in the imagination of the Angelenos. “… It’s the store shaped like a camera on Wilshire. It’s Frank Lloyd Wright’s crumbling Ennis Brown House. It’s standing in line at Tail o’ the Pup, where they still sell hotdogs out of a hotdog.”

Beverley Hills Hotel, LA

The Beverley Hills Hotel, Los Angeles

And no suburb stirs the imagination of Angelenos quite like Beverly Hills. It’s 100 years since the architect Elmer Grey began work on the Beverly Hills Hotel, completed in 1912, in the Mediterranean Revival style. Ever since the arrival of the hotel, Hollywood glitterati and the richest LA business people have chosen to live in Beverly Hills.

But the needs of today’s homemakers in Beverly Hills have changed; they’re demanding ever-larger homes and this has created a demand for landowners to redevelop historic sites. The average house size in Beverley Hills has almost doubled since 1970, to 7300 square feet.

Above Beverly Hills at Getty

Landowners in Beverly Hills can demolish historic properties without the need of planning permission. As a result, important 20th century buildings, including by Frank Lloyd Wright, have been lost to make way for tacky ‘McMansions’.

Diane Keaton says: “Experimenting with new styles and techniques, the constraints of symmetry and form never stopped anyone in Los Angeles. Not only did this atmosphere realise genius and its potential, but the unlikely alliance of architects, contractors, buyers, and real estate brokers created the most dizzying array of deviant structures that people call ‘home’ on the face of the earth.”

Many of these ‘deviant’ structures are now considered to be amongst the world’s most important house designs.

The local mayor has admitted that some sort of Planning Ordinance is needed to address architectural preservation in Beverly Hills.

 

Overlooking Beverly Hills at Getty

Click for Palace of Pugin

Nick Corbett www.transformingcities.co.uk

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