SILVER LAKE — Two homes — one considered a masterwork by architectural legend Rudolph M. Schindler, the other an uncelebrated duplex designed by a contractor no one has ever heard of — have been nominated to become city historic landmarks.
The Cultural Heritage Commission on Thursday is scheduled to decide whether or not to take the nominations under consideration.
Both buildings were constructed in 1936 and have been relatively unchanged over the decades, retaining many original features. Here’s a description of the properties and what makes them special from an architectural and historical perspective:
Walter Daniels Duplex
As noted earlier, this two-story Streamline Moderne building on West Descanso Drive near Micheltorena Street does not have an architectural pedigree. Walter Daniels, a Polish-born contractor, built and designed the hillside duplex with structural engineer J. Frank Hanneman, according to monument application. “Not much has been located on either man,” says the nomination.
“Many of the Streamline Moderne buildings were not designed by architects, but were the design expressions of structural engineers who were frequently trained in architectural design,” says the nomination.
There’s also no indication that anyone of historic or cultural significance ever called lived in the builing. Yet, the duplex, according to city historic surveys, “exhibits a high quality of design” and serves as an “excellent and rare example of a Streamline Moderne duplex in Silver Lake.” The building has retained many elements from the era, including phone
niches, rounded door frames, Deco-style heater grills and an original intercom
Ralph G. Walker House
Unlike the Walter Daniels Duplex, the Ralph G. Walker House in the 2100 block of N. Kenilworth Avenue has been featured in magazine articles and research studies over the decades thanks to its Schindler connection.
The International-style home steps down a hillside and is angled to take in views of the Silver Lake Reservoir and mountains beyond. Deed restrictions required that the home have a pitched roof, which went against the design principles of Schindler and other Modernist architects. In this case, Schindler was able to position the roof so that it appears relatively flat and yet creates a dramatic interior with soaring ceiling over the main living spaces.
The front door slides open to reveal those high-ceiling spaces, which feature built in sofas, cabinets, benches and large windows. The home has remained virtually unchanged since it was built more tha 80 years ago.
“The Walker House — with its sensitive siting, its maximization of views and exterior space and its complex and dramatic interior — is one of the most significant examples of his work,” the nomination asserts.
If the commissioners vote in favor of the staff’s recommendation, both properties will be subject to further review before a second vote is taken on the declaring them historic cultural monuments.
Then it would be up to the City Council to take a final vote.
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