New life for old buildings

In 2001 the Chinese Theatre, perhaps Los Angeles’s most visited tourist attraction, emerged from decades of obscurity behind commercial signage and awnings. HRG assisted Mann Theatres and Behr Browers Architects in that work. Sadly for historic theatres, single screen houses are failing to draw audiences, compared to cineplexes, and large chain exhibitors compete fiercely for the most popular new blockbuster movies. Currently, new owners Elie Samaha and Don Kushner are seeking a viable economic future for the “Chinese” by installing a new digital IMAX projector and projection screen. The leading edge technology is exclusive to very few venues, and will therefore draw the attention of studios, directors, and moviegoers. The only major alteration required is more steeply raked seating; this is a reversible change to the auditorium floor—a floor that has been previously altered. Later this year moviegoers will experience the best in screening technology, and the symbol of Sid Grauman’s showmanship will live on.

 HRG has worked for years with the team that just completed restoration and adaptive reuse of the 1926 28th Street YMCA designed by Paul Revere Williams, FAIA, a leading Los Angeles architect, and the first African American member of the American Institute of Architects. The project is developed and owned by Clifford Beers Housing, led by James Bonar, FAIA, and designed by Koning Eizenberg Architects. There are now 24 studio apartments in the historic building and a new rear wing of 25 apartments for low-income adults and youths transitioning from homelessness. The project saves a neighborhood icon from blight and potential demolition, providing an anchor for maintaining and improving an area of historic homes and streetscapes.

Above: Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles.

Side: 28th Street YMCA, Los Angeles. Courtesy of Eric Staudenmaier. 


Sharing our expertise

HRG frequently works with staff and commissioners on behalf of public and private owners to assure that applicants get good assistance, planning staff sees good projects, and commissioners understand the issues and outcomes. HRG sponsored and Peyton Hall participated in the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions 2012 Forum in Norfolk, Virginia. As a follow up, Peyton was invited to write a substantial article for the September-October 2012 issue of The Alliance Review, titled “A Seismic Shift in Historic Urban Development: Lessons Learned from the Crash of 2008.” The article provides a Western, private sector perspective on development to a national audience consisting mostly of citizen commissioners and public planners. Case studies included the Rose Bowl and the Hotel Constance.

HRG worked with the Los Angeles Conservancy on the first phase of “Curating the City: Modern Architecture in L.A., 1940-1990,” which is part of the Getty Research Institute’s Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A. HRG facilitated meetings of experts in the field of modern architecture, architectural history, and historic preservation to help the Los Angeles Conservancy define how best to tell the story of modern architecture in Greater Los Angeles, why it matters, and why it merits preservation. As part of these lively and informative discussions, a list of over 1,000 significant modern buildings and sites was compiled, which will be used by the Conservancy to create an online searchable database and map.

Historic Resources Group is a 2013 Annual Sponsor of theCalifornia Preservation Foundation. Sponsorships are critical to the California Preservation Foundation’s efforts to fulfill its mission to ensure the protection of California’s diverse cultural heritage and historic places through education, advocacy, and leadership. Over time, HRG has contributed three board members and two Presidents to CPF, demonstrating a long history of support. 

For CPF’s annual conference in Orange County on May 1-3, 2013, Peyton Hall sits on the Program Committee, planning study tours of Eichler homes, the Richard Neutra and Philip Johnson buildings at the “Crystal Cathedral,” and Santa Ana, the County’s historic urban center. Attendees will also be able to visit two extraordinary hidden gems: Arden, the Helena Modjeska Historic House and Gardens, and Crystal Cove State Beach, thanks to Sue McIntire, Historic Resource Manager of the Orange County Historical Parks.

Above: Historic image of the Hotel Constance, Pasadena. Courtesy of the collection of the Pasadena Museum of History.

Side: Crystal Cove, Laguna Beach. Courtesy of the Orange County Archives.


Our new Principal

Paul Travis has been named a Principal of HRG, having previously served as a Senior Preservation Planner. Paul joined the firm as an intern in 2005. After earning his Masters in Urban Planning from UCLA, he became a fulltime employee in 2006. As a Principal, he has assumed managerial and marketing responsibilities in addition to continuing to provide expert preservation planning, environmental review, and general consultation services to both public and private sector clients.


Our work speaks for itself, but accolades help.

HRG won a Governor's Historic Preservation Award for its work on the rehabilitation of the Lopez Adobe in the City of San Fernando. HRG worked with team members Drisko Studio and Spectra Company on this project. HRG received The Driehaus Form-Based Codes Award for our work with Moule + Polyzoides on the City of Santa Ana Transit Zoning Code, part of the Santa Ana Renaissance Specific Plan. This award is presented annually by the Form-Based Codes Institute with generous support from the Richard H. Driehaus Charitable Lead Trust. HRG was also featured in The Architect’s Newspaper in their “Greatest Hits” compilation of the best firms on the West Coast for historic preservation (the only firm mentioned from the Southland).


We work on building a historic future.

Rose Bowl. The busy Rose Bowl Renovation Team paused on weekends during the fall, letting UCLA take the field for the 2012 season. The 99th Rose Bowl Game will be played at “America’s Stadium” on New Year’s Day, 2013. HRG has worked alongside the City of Pasadena’s Rose Bowl Operating Company management for 17 years to formulate alterations and additions that protect the integrity of this National Historic Landmark while assuring the future as a premier venue for collegiate football. Starting with the writing of a Historic Structure Report in the 1990s, we’re nearing the end zone: completion of a $160 million improvement in time for the 2014 Centennial Game. HRG now also works with Boston-based architect, D’AIQ, for local design review, building permits, and construction administration.

SurveyLA. HRG is excited to continue working for the City of Los Angeles’ Office of Historic Resources on SurveyLA, the first citywide historic resources survey. HRG has had a leading and important role in numerous phases of the project, from the development of the Citywide Historic Context Statement to the most recent field surveys in the San Fernando Valley and several communities in West L.A. The field surveys have given us the opportunity to view the many neighborhoods of Los Angeles in new and interesting ways, and we have made a lot of exciting discoveries throughout the process. SurveyLA also includes a vigorous public outreach component called MyHistoricLA, which HRG has assisted the City in implementing over the past three years. We helped develop a comprehensive Guide to Public Participation, organized community meetings throughout the City, and worked with individuals and organizations to gather information that would help inform the survey. In 2012, with the assistance of a CLG Grant, the City created the website which allows members of the community to submit information about historic resources that are important to them. We encourage you to visit the site and tell us about your favorite historic places as well!

Yamashiro. HRG nominated Yamashiro in Hollywood to the National Register of Historic Places on behalf of the owners. Yamashiro (Japanese for “Castle on the Hill”), also known as the Bernheimer Villa and Oriental Gardens, was the vision of the brothers Adolph and Eugene Bernheimer, German-born cotton barons and avid Asian Art collectors. The Bernheimers purchased seven acres of hillside property in the heart of Hollywood for the construction of an expansive estate and gardens, which were completed in 1914. In the 1920s, the Bernheimers sold Yamashiro, and it became a short-lived social club for members of the entertainment industry called the 400 Club. Following the closure of the 400 Club, Yamashiro became an important tourist attraction in Hollywood, where visitors could tour the gardens and experience the spectacular views of the city below for 25 cents. In 1948, the estate was purchased by the current owners, who rehabilitated the original buildings and gardens for use as a restaurant and hotel. Congratulations to the owners of Yamashiro for protecting this remarkable place and honoring its rich history.

Above: Rose Bowl, Pasadena.

Side: Yamashiro, Los Angeles.