FACE LIFT REMODEL

FRONT DOOR AND  WINDOW SLOTS FROM THE STREET,    NELSON REMODEL 1990

 

GLEN HOWARD SMALL AND MICHAEL RENDLER ARCHITECTS.  THE NELSONS ARE THE  BARBIE DOLL PROFESSIONAL COUPLE.  BOTH WORK OUT,  AND THE EPITOME OF GOOD LOOKS.  THEY STUMBLED ONTO MY GRANT WADA CONDOS WHILE DRIVING AROUND IN SANTA MONICA,  SOUTH OF PICO,  IN 1987 AND THEY LUCKED OUT, BECAUSE THE CONDOS HAD SOLD  OUT AND ONE FELL OUT OF ESCROW,  SO THEY BOUGHT .  THE NEXT THING I KNEW THREE YEARS LATER, THEY PURCHASED A DUMPY HOUSE A FEW BLOCKS AWAY AND WANTED TO REMODEL IT TO RAISE THEIR EXPANDING FAMILY.

THE HOUSE BEFORE THE REMODEL.  POST WORLD WAR II HOUSING.

I SWITCHED THE GARAGE  ENTRY TO  OFF THE REAR ALLEY. THE SITE PLAN REVEALED THAT THE STREET WAS AT A SLIGHT DIAGONAL TO THE HOUSE AND  SET BACK  ENOUGH TO PUT A FACADE ON THE FRONT THAT WENT FROM FOUR FEET WIDE TO 7 FEET WIDE.  THE PROBLEM WITH HOUSES THAT FACE THE STREET IS THAT THEIR  BIG BAY WINDOWS END UP WITH CURTAINS OR DRAPES FOR PRIVACY.   I CREATED A SERIES OF SLOT WINDOWS  FACING   DOWN THE STREET THAT ALLOWED PEEK A BOO VIEWS WITHOUT DIRECT EXPOSURE.  THE GRADATION OF THE PARTS STEPPING OUTWARD AND UPWARD WAS BASED ON THE SITE PLAN GETTING WIDER ON THE EAST SIDE OF THE LOT.  I JUST FOLLOWED THE SET BACK LINE.

00157_s_11aggf5anz0157_4_3

INTERIOR OF SLOTTED FACADE EXTENSION,  NOTICE WHERE IT MEETS THE EXISTING HOUSE ON THE RIGHT

I LEFT THE EXISTING HOUSE ALONE,  EXCEPT FOR TEARING OFF THE SOUTH STREET WALL.  THINKING, THIS WAS AN ECONOMICAL SOLUTION.  BY THE TIME ALL THE INTERIOR WALLS , CEILINGS  ,  FRAMING FOR WINDOWS   HAD BEEN COMPLETED ,  ALONG WITH THE ELECTRICAL AND PLUMBING  UPDATED, THE HOUSE WAS A TEAR DOWN . THE HOUSE  STRIPPED TO THE BARE STUDS..  THINKING REMODEL, WHEN A NEW BUILDING COULD OF HAPPENED.  THE ADVANTAGE BEING SANTA MONICA GAVE ALL SORTS OF BREAKS TO EXISTING HOMES VS NEW CONSTRUCTION.  THE SAVINGS BEING  THE ROOF FRAMING , CEILINGS AND SOME OF THE HARDWOOD FLOORS  AND FOUNDATIONS.    UNFORTUNATELY THE CONTRACTOR WENT BROKE IN THE PROCESS.

THE ANGLE OF THE FACADE ROOF WAS MEANT TO BE A CONTEXTUAL CONNECTION TO THE SURROUNDING HOUSES ROOF SLOPES.  BUT THAT WAS A FAR CRY FROM RELATING TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD.   THE BUILDING JUMPS OUT.   THE MATERIAL OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA BEING STUCCO OVER WOOD FRAMING.  WHICH DID TIE INTO THE OTHER STUCCO HOMES  IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD.

ALLEN NELSON, THE CLIENT IS A SHREW MAN WITH MONEY.  THE DESIGN CAME FAST AND I HAD A ROUGH MODEL DONE IN A HALF DAY.   AND THE PLANS FINISHED IN THE AFTERNOON.  SO ALLEN HAD A FANTASTIC DESIGN FOR NEXT TO NOTHING.   MY PARTNER AT THAT TIME WAS MICHAEL RENDLER WHO WAS A STICKLER FOR CONTRACTS.  ALLEN CONSIDERED SHOPPING WITH THE MODEL AND DRAWINGS TO DRAFTING SERVICES THAT USED COMPUTERS TO GET A BETTER PRICE FOR CONSTRUCTION DOCUMENTS.  HE WAS INTELLIGENT ENOUGH TO KNOW THAT THE DESIGN WOULD HAVE BEEN CLOBBERED IF HE HAD TAKEN THIS PATH,    I EXPLAINING THERE WOULD BE CHANGES IN THE PROCESS THAT REQUIRED OUR SERVICES.  SINCE THEN ALLEN HAS NEVER QUESTIONED THE NEED OF MY SERVICES.

STRUCTURALLY,  I THOUGHT  BOX BEAMS WALLS AND ROOF SLOPE COULD BE MADE OF PLYWOOD  THAT SANDWICHED  THE  2X 4  WOOD STUDS WOULD DO THE JOB.   I AM SURE THEY COULD,  BUT THE ENGINEER AND BUILDING DEPARTMENT WOULD HAVE NONE OF THAT,  AND A STEEL RIGID FRAME OF TUBULAR STEEL WAS THE BASIS FOR THE FRAMING.  THE KIDS IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD THOUGHT ALL THAT STEEL LOOKED LIKE A ZOO.  SO THE HOUSE BECOME KNOWN AS THE ZOO.

RENDLER WAS A DETAIL GUY THAT GOT THE BUTTED FRAMLESS GLASS TO SLOT WELL.  MAKING SURE ALL THE PARTS OF THE HOUSE FITTED TOGETHER CORRECTLY.

 

FRONT ELEVATION AND LOOKING DOWN EAST SIDE YARD

THE REST OF THE HOUSE WAS LEFT AS IS WITH A FEW SLOTTED SKYLIGHTS BETWEEN RAFTERS, A WALL REMOVED, AND SOME EXTERIOR WALLS REPLACED WITH GLASS SLIDING DOORS ETC.  IT ALL WORKED, BUT THE FACADE WAS THE MIND BLOWER WITH THE SUN RAYS AND SHADOWS THAT DRAMATIZED THE LIVING ROOM SPACE.

THE FRONT YARD  WAS CAPPED WITH A SLOPING ICE PLANT PLANTER WITH MINOR WALLS GRABBING THE EARTH.  THE ICE PLANT WORKED WELL FOR A COUPLE OF YEARS STAYING IN BLOOM, BUT THE TREES ON THE STREET EVENTUALLY CREATED A CANOPY THAT BLOCKED THE DIRECT SUN.  SO OTHER PLANTS WERE BROUGHT IN TO REPLACE THE ICE PLANT.

THE NELSONS WERE FILMED IN THIS HOUSE,  FOR MY DAUGHTER LUCIA’S MOVIE OF “MY FATHER THE GENIUS.”  ROSE AND I CONVERSING ABOUT THE FRONT DOOR ON THEIR NEW HOUSE THAT THEY BUILT FROM SCRATCH A FEW YEARS LATER.  QUITE FUNNY,  BECAUSE THE NELSONS LOVE THEIR FRONT DOOR AND THEIR NEW HOUSE.   THE DOWNSIDE IS THEY SOLD THIS REMODEL TO FINANCE THEIR NEW HOUSE.   THEY REGRET THAT DECISION BECAUSE THEY ENJOYED THE REMODEL, AND OF COURSE THEY LOST A TON OF MONEY BY IT APPRECIATING SO MUCH.  THEY STILL OWN THE GRANT WADA CONDO.

ROSE NELSON CONFESSING RECENTLY THAT SHE LOVED THE REMODEL AND COULD WATCH HER KIDS FROM THE KITCHEN AS THEY PLAYED INSIDE, OUTSIDE, THE FRONT YARD AND ON THE DECK ABUTTING THE LIVING AREA.  SHE CALLED AN APRIL BIRTHDAY PARTY FOR OUTSIDE THAT WAS RAINED ON ,   AND USING THE BIG INTERIOR SPACE INSTEAD.  A GREAT TIME.  SHE ENJOYED THE SCALE,  COMPACTNESS AND  FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD.  THREE YEARS AGO VISITING THE HOUSE, ROSE BROKE DOWN AND CRIED, CLAIMING IT WAS THE BEST HOUSE SHE EVER LIVED IN.

Grant House 4

THE KITCHEN,  NOTICE THE EIGHT FOOT CEILING OF THE EXISTING HOUSE,  THIS ALL CONNECTED TO THE FACADE THAT BROUGHT THE DRAMA

ALLEN’S  DAD, A DOCTOR HELPING BUILD THE EXTERIOR DECK WITH KEVIN RUDY,  A CONTRACTOR BROUGHT IN TO DO ODD JOBS.

ALLEN MADE SURE THE CONTRACTORS BUILD IT THE WAY THE DRAWINGS SHOWED.  ANY UNCLEAR SITUATIONS, HE RELIED ON US TO SHOW HOW IT SHOULD BE.   HE TOTALLY RESPECTED US. PROBABLY THE BEST CLIENT I HAVE HAD EXCEPT FOR MYSELF BUILDING MY OWN HOUSE. THE REMODEL IS STILL INTACT,  IT  COULD USE SOME TENDER LOVING CARE,  BUT IT HAS NOT BEEN ABUSED YET EXCEPT FOR SOME OVERGROWN PLANTS THAT COVER UP THE SLOTTED WINDOWS.

I GET ALL TINGLY WHEN I DRIVE DOWN GRANT STREET AND SEE THE NELSON ADDITION.  SO DIFFERENT AND YET NOT ABUSIVE IN SCALE AND CONTEXT.  OR IS THAT JUST ME TALKING? ,  ELEGANT IN SO MANY WAYS.  IN THE MAIN LIVING SPACE WITH OPEN KITCHEN, DINING ,ENTRY, FIREPLACE, FLOWING TO SIDE YARD DECK ,  AND CROWNED WITH THE HIGH SLOTTED WINDOW ENTRY FACADE.  THE INTERIOR FEELS SO MODERN AND NEW.

I HAVE NO IDEA HOW PEOPLE CAN NOT WANT TO JUICE UP THEIR LIVES WITH A REMODEL LIKE THIS.  YET I DID NOT GET ANY INQUIRES TO DO OTHERS.  THE NEIGHBORHOOD HAVING TONS OF REMODELS, BUT NONE EVEN COMING CLOSE TO THIS SOPHISTICATION.  WHY SO?  ROSE TELLING ME PEOPLE DO NOT FEEL COMFORTABLE BEING DIFFERENT.  THE NELSONS, FOR SOME STRANGE REASON, ARE COMFORTABLE WITH BEING DIFFERENT AND YET ARE  NORMAL IN LOTS OF WAYS.  WORKING COUPLE THAT HAVE RAISED THREE OUTSTANDING BOYS, ONE GETTING THE HIGHEST TEST SCORES FROM SANTA MONICA HIGH SCHOOL AND  ATTENDING  HARVARD.   ALLEN AND ROSE VERY CLOSE TO THEIR THREE SONS.

DRIVING THE STREETS IN WEST LA, YOU GET THE FEELING THAT EVERY SCI-ARC GRADUATE AND PROFESSOR GOT THEIR CHANCE TO DESIGN A CLEVER ADDITION.  BUT THEY SURE DID NOT LEARN FROM ME.

I HAVE BEEN ACCUSED OF ONLY LIKING CURVES,  NOT SO,  AND THIS PROJECT CONFIRMS  WORKING WITH STRAIGHT LINES.

GLEN

 

Grant House 6

FROM THE STREET,   THE ICE PLANT IN BLOOM   MY IDEA OF COLOR FOR A BUILDING

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  • eric chavkin

    Glen, It is hard to think of this when I read elsewhere of is happening to your LA CONCHA. I am thginking of a response to that insult. Thge targeting of LeWITTES public works that you designed is obviously a political act of vandalism, amied to destroy, disfigure, the Populist legacy of Lewittes. Carlosm is right. The revolution is over and the tryants and crook have took over.

    Nevertheless on this project. Could you explain a bit more on the ‘box beam’? eric

    • GLEN HOWARD SMALL

      eric,

      this blog on the nelson addition has been posted twice in the middle of my
      shell shocked life. the first to sell the chapple addition in oregon, and now the destruction of the acoustical shell in nicaragua. not fair to the nelsons, who have been the best of clients. allen calling the other day to express his grief about the acoustical shell being torn down.

      http://nicaraguadispatch.com/2014/05/sandinistas-demolish-nicaraguas-concha-acustica/

      you could write an article for archinect about your outrage.

      i will do my next blog on the destruction in nicaragua. there was a lot of yelling and publicity, but the bottom line was a out of control dictator doing her thing resulting in the shell destroyed.

      the box beam meaning the vertical wall in front going up and turning into the roof plane and dropping down to connect to the house beam on the back side. constructed of 4×4 verticals glued to 1/2 plywood and screwed to the 4×4 studs. thus creating a vertical box beam that is connect to a 2×6 roof box beam by lapping the studs to the 4 x 4 studs and 2×6 beams. again with glue and screws and bolted stud connections, and then down the back side to the beam with box sandwitched box beam constrution and lapped studs. all of these short spans of a few feet. the front wall 13′ at most. instead of the box beam approach, tubular steel was used. there always is the fear that over time the wood rots out and the connections weaken . using pressure treated wood eliminates most of the rot concerns.

      glen

  • eric chavkin

    Glen, It is hard to think of this when I read elsewhere of is happening to your LA CONCHA. I am thginking of a response to that insult. Thge targeting of LeWITTES public works that you designed is obviously a political act of vandalism, amied to destroy, disfigure, the Populist legacy of Lewittes. Carlos is right. The revolution is over and the tryants and crook have took over.

    Nevertheless on this project. Could you explain a bit more on the ‘box beam’? eric

  • GLEN HOWARD SMALL

    readers,

    i would have thought there would be more comments on this nelson addition. over the years i have heard nothing but praise for the this project. not all that known and yet i think an inspiration for additions.

    the nelsons the best of clients that should receive praise for supporting this modest but radical solution.

    glen

  • eric chavkin

    Glen, the issue with La Concha unfortunately stoile the conversation about the Nelson remodel. But know, after some distance and tought here goes.

    The facade is a sequence of progressive slabs punctuated with glazing. The light quality and direction of sunlight (I imagine) changes over time, making the sunlight the dynamic factor that animates the space over the course of the day, and at night there are glimpses of stars. What appears to be a ‘simple’ series of wall panels over time renders the space a different way every time. I think thais is the aesthetic key and why it feels good and fresh.

    I wriote about Lautners Palm Spring Elrod House in a similair way. (the one with the dome on top and rocks in the floor). With the Lautner house I describred the open-closed dome ceiling as a nature timepiece, The Nelson facade has that quality.