Last-minute effort fails to save Beverly Hills house designed by John Lautner
A last-minute effort to save a Beverly Hills house designed by architect John Lautner has failed, paving the way for the owner to raze the structure to make way for a new house.
Located on Monte Leon Lane just north of Sunset Boulevard, the Shusett House dates from 1951 and is one of Lautner's early commissions. The L.A.-based architect would go on to produce some of the most striking houses in Southern California.
The owner, Enrique Mannheim, said Tuesday that the city of Beverly Hills has approved all of the permits required for the demolition. He said that demolition work has already begun on the house.
Earlier this week, the city of Beverly Hills called a last-minute meeting to discuss the possibility of moving the Shusett House to another site. The meeting was attended by city officials, the owner, members of the Lautner Foundation and others.
At some point after the meeting, Mannheim decided against pursuing the option of moving Shusett House and to proceed with demolition. Reached Tuesday, Mannheim declined to comment on what happened at the meeting. His lawyer also declined to comment about the house.
Frank Escher, an L.A. architect who attended the meeting, said Mannheim sent an e-mail to city officials stating that there was no agreement to move the house and that he was moving ahead with plans for demolition.
The city of Beverly Hills lacks the power to halt the demolition of historic structures like Shusett House, said Linda Dishman, executive director of the Los Angeles Conservancy.
She said the city has no discretionary review on such matters, which would have triggered an environmental review. Such a review would have given officials more time to explore alternatives to demolition.
"We hope that this is a wake-up call, that there are significant architectural resources here that are worth preserving," Dishman said.
-- David Ng
Photo: a view of Shusett House, designed by John Lautner, in Beverly Hills. Credit: Tycho Saariste