Thursday, May 19, 2011

Preservation Alert! Fickett Designed West Hollywood Park is Coming Down Fast.

West Hollywood Park Library
The Edward H. Fickett, FAIA designed Mid-Century Modern West Hollywood Park is on it's way to destruction! As West Hollywood Park continues to plow away at the Phase I of the West Hollywood Park Master Plan located 645 N. San Vicente Blvd, 90069, I ask myself and others how the City of West Hollywood can justify the destruction of ALL the buildings that make up the campus of the West Hollywood Park?
West Hollywood Park Library
It just so happened during the last MODCOM general meeting the issue of the West Hollywood Park came up.  It seems that not only did the LA Conservancy, the City of West Hollywood's Historic Preservation Commission, but the community at large seemed to not raise an eyebrow over the razing of Fickett's Post WWII built community park.  Juxtaposed against the almost completed RED Building and the rest of the Pacific Design Center scariness, across the street sits a true work of art and thoughtfulness that is very befitting of the noted architects of the Mid-Century.  Perhaps I sit alone and think there should be more of an outcry over this issue?

West Hollywood Park Library Roofline
West Hollywood Park Library
Did I mention I almost got arrested by taking pictures of the exteriors of the buildings in the park?  Oh yeah.  It seemed that when I asked politely to enter into the Swimming Pool area to shoot some architectural details of the building, as I am a preservationist, my request was shot down with a firm NO.  As I have studied journalism, I furthered to ask why I wasn't able to take pictures of a public park?  Her then reply was to pick up the phone and call the police! 

Eh, I snapped a nice smiling picture of her and headed on my way through the campus trying to document as much as I could through my lens before the heat arrived.

West Hollywood Park Library Ceiling
The amazing angles of the ceiling are striking and acoustically sound.  I was somewhat rushed to grab these photos while a door was being held open and I shot from the outside inward.  Look at how the triangular windows below allow minimal diffused light into the space.
West Hollywood Park Library Ceiling
So how could the city decide to mow down a full-on Community Park designed by the famed architect?  Edward Fickett designed 37 buildings in the West Hollywood area including, residential, commercial and institutional buildings.  After his passing in 1999 at the age of 83, his wife Joycie Fickett collaborated with the City of West Hollywood to designate these historical buildings in order to provide his work a continued legacy.  This just doesn't add up right.
Joycie Fickett
Mrs. Fickett was involved with the city in efforts to designate the apartment complex known as the HOLLYWOOD RIVIERA, which was just awarded their Historical Cultural Monument ( HCM ) designation recently. 

Swimming Pool Facilities Entrance
Even the pool house was wet with California Modernism.  The cut-outs and geometrics exemplify the style of the movement.  There were many eco-friendly treatments done to the structure when Fickett conceived of the park. 

You will find most architects of the Mid-Century Modern period being fairly "Green" with their approach to design.  Oddly enough, the city and community applauded the new design in 2008 when revealed, as it had LEED written all over the plans while "Green" was building steam in the development community, especially those structures with a civic nature.
West Hollywood Pool
West Hollywood Pool
Check out the continuous roof line of the Park Office Structure and the Community Center structure.  Did Eichler throw in two cents here?  The are some amazing architectural details in the breezeway area between these two structures joined together by one roof and cut-outs in the interior staircase area. 
West Hollywood Park Office and Community Center

What I love about this picture is you can see the hint of the beveled roof at the corner representing a little Googie-action.  Fun stuff, folks!

Breezeway between Park Office Building and Community Center
Breezeway between Park Office Building and Community Center
West Hollywood Park Community Center
Breezeway between Park Office Building and Community Center
What takes place with the eye in the Breezeway area between the Park Office structure and the Community Center structure is a visual and soothing comfort. 

Detail of Slatted Window Treatment
West Hollywood Park Community Center Entrance

So many memories, such little time. 

West Hollywood Park Community Center South
See an open gate?  I say go for it...  There were no posted signs anywhere saying keep out or private property or anything.  Just a wide open gate where any person or child could wonder from the park and in through gate.  I began to feel like one of the screaming kids only a shout away.  This is where it got really tough for me as I was next to the new structure while taking photos of the soon-to-be destroyed Fickett wonderland. 

West Hollywood Park Restrooms
Even the public restrooms have style!

Children's Center
When all's said and done, the city will have a brand spankin' new eco-friendly park, only to have razed a historical and relevant compound of Mid-Century Modern architecture.  As I always say to folks, you can't put architecture into a museum.  That's that!

On a final note, I just want to point out how ironic it was to be asking the librarian if whether or not I could take archival photographs on behalf of LA Conservancy's MODCOM committee, I was met with another NO.  It's a library saying no to someone wanting to document and archive the history of a piece of architecture that will soon be razed.  I suddenly saw visions of "Fahrenheit 4-5-1" blazing in my head.

Have a modern day!

Steve Ward
Realtor®, SFR®
Mid-Century Modern Architecture Specialist
Keller Williams Realty - Los Feliz
Short Sale and Foreclosure Resource
DRE Lic #01871422
213.305.8537 direct
MODCOM - LA Conservancy Modern Committee

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