The Modernist Home: Born and Razed in L.A.

Andrew Romano explores the ironic fate of the modest mid-century home in the cradle of modernist residential design, where a hot housing market imperils their existence.

"The modern single-family dwelling may have been invented in Europe, at the Bauhaus and elsewhere, but many believe it was perfected in Southern California," writes Romano. "But a certain kind of modernist property—namely, a lesser-known house situated on a prime lot in an expensive neighborhood—is still at risk, and may be especially imperiled in Los Angeles’s current residential market, which has posted the nation’s largest increase in average sale price (20.7 percent) over the last year."

“An economic downturn is always a good thing for preservation,” says Regina O’Brien, chairperson of the Modern Committee of the Los Angeles Conservancy. “A lot fewer developers are making a lot less money, and therefore they have a lot less motivation to pursue these profit-oriented flips. But the problem is that the opposite is true when the market picks back up.”

"As aging owners realize their aging homes can now fetch top dollar, the buyers most inclined to preserve these modernist gems are outbid by those most inclined to replace them with gaudy Mediterranean super-villas."

Full Story: Trading Modernist For McMansion

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