Thursday, January 27, 2011

Conservancy Alert: Beverly Hills' Friars Club Being Demolished

(Flickr pic by waltarrrrr.)

L.A.'s 1960s architectural history is once again in danger. The Los Angeles Conservancy reports that the 1961 Friars Club building at 9900 Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills is now being dismantled by its owner -- even though there are no plans to build anything else in its place.

Yep, get ready for another empty lot where an architecturally relevant building once stood. In this case, a unique mid-century building created by L.A. architect Sidney Eisenshtat.

The Conservancy writes:

"Unfortunately, many people don't yet understand why a building like this is worth saving," said Adrian Scott Fine, director of advocacy for the Los Angeles Conservancy. "This is an important building by an important architect, and it will very soon be lost to us forever. We need to recognize and protect significant designs from our recent past now, so that they're not all gone by the time they're universally accepted."

The City of Beverly Hills is one of many in Los Angeles County that has no protections for its historic resources. Although interest in preservation in the city has increased in recent years, it continues to lose significant historic resources, including the 1951 Shusett residence designed by legendary architect John Lautner (demolished in September 2010).

The Friars Club building was included in a 2006 survey of commercial structures in Beverly Hills. The survey identified the building as being eligible for listing in the California Register of Historical Resources for its association with the Friars Club, as well as its architectural significance as "a good intact example of the work of a master architect, Sidney Eisenshtat."

Eisenshtat's designs were often characterized by dramatically oversized interior rooms and exterior walls typically made of thin-slab concrete or brick. The Friars Club building is no exception, with an innovative modernist design that was -- and perhaps still is -- ahead of its time.

The building has been vacant after "Club 9900" closed its doors in 2008.

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