When Eugene Kinn Choy wanted to buy a lot and build a home in Silver Lake in the late 1940s, the Chinese-American architect had to overcome not only financial and design challenges but a racial one as well. Faced with racial property covenants that would prevent him from purchasing property in the area, Choy went to his future neighbors in order to win their support. He eventually won them over and in 1949 built a modernist home clad in wood siding on Castle Street near the Silver Lake Reservoir. Choy’s life and legacy and those of other pioneering Chinese-American architects are highlighted in a new exhibit – Breaking Ground: Chinese American Architects in Los Angeles – featured in an L.A. Times story.
A separate piece on Chinese American architects on the National Trust for Historic Preservation website describes Choy’s Silver Lake home:
In addition to numerous public, commercial, and residential buildings, Eugene Choy designed his own home for a narrow hillside lot in the Silverlake area of Los Angeles and his creativity in meeting the challenges of a fifty foot wide lot that sloped in two directions were noted in Art and Architecture and Architectural Record. The importance of light and the use of open space highlighted the interior of the home. Wood was a feature of the interior and exterior.
Choy, who died in 1991, became the second Chinese American to become a member of the American Institute of Architects. His oldest son, Barton Choy, heads the family architectural practice founded in 1947.