By now you’ve likely heard about Thom Mayne‘s destruction of Sci-Fi author Ray Bradbury’s storybook 1937 home in Los Angeles’ Cheviot Hills neighborhood. Mayne and his wife Blythe yesterday talked to KCRW’s Frances Anderton to try to set the record straight.
Curbed LA reports that the couple bought the 2,450 square foot, bright yellow home, sitting on a 9,500 square foot lot, last May, and received a demolition permit last month. Since then fans of the author have been up in arms, and rumors have been swirling about the size and scope of their planned residence there.
“I could make no connection between the extraordinary nature of the writer and the incredible un-extraordinariness of the house,” said Mayne on Design And Architecture. “It was actually to an extreme.” Blythe Mayne added: “It was one of the worst houses in the neighborhood. “We thought it was not keepable.”
As for saving the original home, Thom Mayne replied, “It’s not our responsibility. If somebody wanted to do that it would have been his three daughters or the Bradbury Foundation. (They) had ample opportunity to save the house.” And regarding their upcoming plans, Blythe Mayne denied reports of a giant residence, noting that much of the modest home (although not three levels, as some have said) would be dug into the ground. “It’s the opposite of a monster mansion,” she said.
Thom Mayne sees the home as the next generation of Case Study House: “It has to do with scale and landscape,” he said, adding that the couple only planned to build 20 percent of what they were allowed to on the site.
The Center for Ray Bradbury Studies at Indiana University’s School of Liberal Arts is raising funds to recreate Bradbury’s basement office. “We never wanted the house to be demolished,” the center’s director, Jonathan Eller told AN. “But after that happened I learned everything I could about Mayne’s vision, and I am supporting him moving forward from that point. We see a good future for it.”
The center plans to recreate the 24-foot-by-18-foot office in existing space “to be determined” on the School of Liberal Arts’ Indianapolis campus. It won’t include the room’s original floors, walls, and built-ins, but thanks to donations from Bradbury’s daughters and from Pratt Institute professor Donn Albright, it will contain its original furniture, bookcases, artifacts, awards, correspondence, books, and papers. Some of the notable pieces, said Eller, include three of the author’s typewriters, his asbestos-bound first edition of Fahrenheit 451, his Pulitzer Prize, and his pewter figure of Buck Rogers.
Back in LA, not everyone is happy. “This is an unfortunate event,” Ken Bernstein, Manager at LA’s Office of Historic Resources, told Anderton. He admitted that the city missed the home in its inventory of historic structures.