Remaining Neutra

The future of Richard Neutra’s first U.S. building remains uncertain

Now nearly a century old, the Jardinette Apartments are in significant disrepair. (Junkyardsparkle/Wikipedia Commons)

The current owner of the Jardinette Apartments, the first commission the modernist architect Richard Neutra received in the United States in 1927, has worked out an agreement with the lender to pay back the necessary $214,009 to keep the building, while an auction database lists the property as an item up for auction this Friday. According to Curbed LA, Robert Clippinger of Clippinger Investment Properties purchased the Hollywood property on the corner of Marathon and Manhattan in 2016 but has not kept up with the necessary payments. The four-story building, designed with the assistance of fellow Viennese émigré and modernist architect Rudolph Schindler, is considered the first international style building in the country and helped the architect gain connections to design other projects throughout the city.

A year after purchasing the property, now known as the Marathon Apartments, Clippinger contributed to a recommendation report the following year that addressed its significant state of disrepair with plans of restoration by 2018 (that never commenced). According to the report, the scope of rehabilitation, restoration, and maintenance work is substantial: it includes waterproofing the building envelope, patching and repairing the roof, restoring interior finishes, repairing and reconstructing fenestration, upgrading the fire sprinkler system, and reconstructing cabinetry in the kitchen, bathrooms and dressing rooms. The exterior, which was painted in an ahistorical beige, blue and pink combination about 20 years ago, would additionally need to be uniformly repainted white to complete the restoration. A set of images on the Clippinger website reveals what the property would look like, had the proper plans for restoration been made.

A tall white building and a car

A photo taken by Julius Shulman in 1950 highlights the building’s sleek design in a uniform coat of white paint. (© J. Paul Getty Trust/Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2004.R.10))

Given the apartment tower’s listing on the National Register of Historic Places and designation as a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument, the city’s building and safety department revisited the 2017 report last January to grant the building a rehabilitation permit. So while it may appear up for auction, deep-pocketed preservationist will want to hold off; work to restore the building will begin sometime in the near future.

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