Property Owner Who Tore Down Neutra-Designed House Ordered to Build Exact Replica

This was not a case of "it's better to ask forgiveness than permission."
December 21, 2018, 1pm PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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What was left of the Largent House in November 2017.

J.K. Dineen reports from San Francisco, where "[a] property owner who illegally demolished a 1936 Twin Peaks house designed by a renowned modernist must rebuild an exact replica of the home rather than the much larger structure the property owner had proposed replacing it with…"

Modernist icon Richard Neutra designed the house at 49 Hopkins Street, known as the Largent House. The property owner, Ross Johnston, created a development company, 49 Hopkins LLC , to raze the house and build a much larger replacement. According to his attorney, Johnston intended to move his family into the much larger house.

The problem with the demolition: Johnston only had permission to "remodel with a design that would have largely kept the first floor of the existing home intact," according to Dineen.

"The case attracted attention because Neutra is considered one of the most important modern architects and because it highlighted the trend of speculators illegally razing modest homes with the intention of replacing them with mega-homes," according to Dineen.

The decision to have Johnston rebuild the house exactly as it was is unprecedented in San Francisco history, according to Dineen. The action has also inspired a lot of debate in San Francisco.

Full Story:
Published on Saturday, December 15, 2018 in San Francisco Chronicle
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