Structure Type: built works - dwellings - houses - apartment houses

Designers: Church, Thomas D. , Landscape Architect (firm); Schultze, Leonard, and Associates, Architects (firm); Tomson, Tommy, Landscape Architect (firm); Thomas Dolliver Church (landscape architect); Leonard B. Schultze (architect)

Dates: constructed 1941-1951

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Park La Brea, Los Angeles, CA

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The prominent New York firm Schultze Associates (successor firm of Schultz and Weaver, Architects, designers of the Los Angeles Biltmore Hotel [1923], the Hunter-Dulin Building in San Francisco [1927] and other skyscrapers in CA) produced the designs for Park La Brea, working closely with San Franciscan Thomas D. Church (1902-1978), landscape architect. Landscape architect Robert Royston (1918-2008) worked in Church's office at the time of Parkmerced's design. The real estate heiress and noted skinflint Leona Helmsley (1920-2007) purchased Parkmerced in the 1970s, and, because of her frugal nature, allowed maintenance to be deferred, causing the condition of the complex to worsen.

The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company used some of its profits to build several high-rise apartment complexes across the US just before and after World War II. Park La Brea in Los Angeles, CA, was a close analog, as were other contemporary complexes such as Parkchester, Bronx, NY, Parkfairfax, Alexandria, VA, and Stuyvesant Town Center-Peter Cooper Village in Manhattan. The plans of Park La Brea and Parkmerced had strong similarities, with each plan having axial street layouts converging on a round, central green space. Park La Brea's plan was made up of three such central axial motifs, while Parkmerced possessed one main central focal point, an oval central green. In general, Park La Brea's layout was much more axial and structured than the more free-form Parkmerced. Each plan contained low-rise and high-rise dwellings; the 13-floor high-rises had cruciform plans, resembling those advocated by the Swiss/French architect Le Corbusier in the 1920s.

In the 2000s, large-scale renovations occurred throughout Parkmerced. Changes included remodeling of high-rise entryways and lobbies, painting all exteriors, replacement of dated elevators and upgrading low-rise townhouse exteriors. Alterations to the landscape were also made. The San Francisco office of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill produced a master plan at this time, to remove some dilapidated low-rise townhouses to be replace by high-density skyscrapers. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors narrowly voted in 05/2011 to allow these changes to occur.

PCAD id: 16116