Hollyhock House Restoration Project

Status: Awarded
Award Type: Historical Renovation Project

Project Information

Name: Hollyhock House Restoration Project
Company: City of Los Angeles, Department of Public Works, Bureau of Engineering
Project Location:

4800 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles

Project Photo:
Image has been re-sized. Click for original size.
Project Description:

Hollyhock House Restoration Project – 2005- 2014
The Hollyhock house, designed in 1921 by Frank Lloyd wright was donated to the City of Los Angeles in 1927. It is the only Frank Lloyd Wright’s design in California that is available for public tour as a House Museum. 
For decades, the Hollyhock House suffered extensive damage from seismic events, soil settlement and water intrusion.    Some of the original architectural features were altered at various times in the past.  Starting in 2005, the Bureau of Engineering, working with Project Restore, Department of General Services, Department of Cultural Affairs and Department of Recreation and Parks, led began a 10 year effort to restore this deteriorated residence. 
The main project scope for this iconic landmark included and the project team implemented seismic retrofits for structural and seismic stabilization, installed water protection and drainage systems to the house and the site for mitigation of damage due to water intrusion ,  and implemented historic restoration in compliance with “Secretary of Interiors Guidelines for Historic Restoration”  to restore and re-create many architectural features as originally designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Project repairs incorporated best quality and safety standards in order to meet the project goal of restoring the landmark back to its original 1921 design. 

Project Justification:

Hollyhock House was the first commission for Frank Lloyd Wright in California.  It is a recognized for its design and impact on the California modern architecture movement which gave birth to new ideas and influences on future young architects in the making.
Hollyhock House has been listed as National Historic Monument, and was recently nominated to the UNESCO for evaluation as a World Heritage Site. 
The project team from City of Los Angeles carried out the repair and restoration with the best engineering techniques and the highest degree of sensitivity.  The process to repair and restore the building’s structural system and the effort to restore the historic architectural features followed strict historic restoration standards which has restored and preserved the landmark to its original design for current and future generations.

Special Circumstances:

Because of the importance of this building, it was critical that the project team collaborate with all involved parties including historians, review agencies, neighborhood and activist groups. It was also necessary to comply with the public’s request to accommodate a partial house tour during the renovation period for educational purpose.  All of these requirements added to the challenge of the project.  Upon the completion of the project, the public was expressed positive praise with the outcome.  The project was received awards form the California Preservation Foundation, LA Conservancy, and Los Angeles Business Council for preserving the historic architecture quality, and bettering the overall building system. 
Hollyhock house is part of the larger campus of Barnsdall Park. It is operated by the City’s Department of Cultural Affairs and the campus serves as an art and cultural hub for the community. Services like art poetry, music and dance classes, art exhibition, building tours are provided on site on a regular basis to the public. Because it is a community destination, the Hollyhock House gets a great deal of exposure from the public. For a Public and particularly children who visit the site; being able to view this historic restoration landmark, can serve as a great influence the public’s appreciation of historic structures.
The Hollyhock house has a special role and opportunity to impact historic preservation in the community. Historically restored projects are not abundant in an urban environment as young as Los Angeles. It is a reminder of the importance of older structures in shaping the built environment of Los Angeles.

Project Attachments:

The historic preservation process emphasized highly on details and methods.  Listed here are few examples:
The entrance has been re-constructed, the wood moldings and the wooden light fixtures were re-created per Frank Lloyd Wright’s original 1921 design. The design team performed a great deal of research in order to re-create the entrance details.  The carpenters prepared several small scaled mock-ups and three life size models for the team to review and approve, as part of the restoration process.
Scientific techniques were used and historic preservation consultants were retained in order to preserve the historic fabric of the House.  The repair of the damaged cast stone and rustic steel was done with the help of surgical needles and syringes.  The original plaster and paint were analyzed by using the microscopic analytical procedure.

Award Citation:

“Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House is a crown Jewel of Los Angeles architecture” said Mayor Garcetti.  Restoring this National Landmark to its original glory is a great example of how the City’s Engineering project team demonstrated their skill and knowledge to preserve this City’s unique history while servicing Angelenos with access to art and culture.

Suggested Award Summary:

Hollyhock House Restoration Project was granted the Historical Renovation Project Award by the Metropolitan Los Angeles Branch.    Designed by Frank Lloyd wright in 1919 as his first commission in California, Hollyhock House boasts a lyrical and poetic style of architecture - “California Romanza” or “freedom to make one’s own form”, which complements LA’s significance as a trendsetter in the arts and architecture space.   
Originally, the house was designed for Aline Barnsdall as her residence among other future artist complex on the Olive Hill – a vision of hers was to include theaters, gallery, art school and artists’ cottages, etc.    While the rest of the complex was not yet realized, Barnsdall donated the Hollyhock House and the hill to the City of Los Angeles in 1927 with intention to promote art and culture to the general public.    For nearly 90 years, Hollyhock House was cared for by different user groups and custodians.  The House went through several major renovation and changes, not always sensitive to the original design, but still showed evidence of deterioration from age and neglect. Still the Hollyhock House was recognized as one of the most important architecture within Los Angeles, and was designated as Historic Cultural Monument at 1963 and as National Historic Landmark in 2007.  Recently, the Hollyhock House was nominated to the UNESCO to be reviewed for the listing as a “World Heritage Site”
Back in 2005, Bureau of Engineering took on this challenging restoration project by partnering with other City work forces:  Project Restore; Department of General Service;, Depart of Cultural Affairs and the Depart of Recreation and Parks.    The project focused on the structural repair, seismic upgrade, water proofing and at the same time – historic restoration with the goal to bring back Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1921 design.  The project team invested for nearly ten years of intensive planning, construction and restoration of this iconic building with care and passion.  Finally the public can experience the Hollyhock House with its original design layout, enjoy the interior and exterior space with fine crafted woodworks, complicated paint and plaster design, and intricate molding and fixture details all around, just like in yesterday.    One last thing to be mentioned is that the public tours will no longer be interrupted by water leaking, an issue that had haunted the Hollyhock House in the past will stay in the past. Eliminating the main threat to this Important Los Angeles Icon.

Additional Information

Additional Files: Center Courtyard
Round fountain Restoration
Living Room Porch Interior
Re-creating the Waterway
Dinning Room Restoration
Roof and Windows - Re-creating
Library - Structural repair and restoration
Sun Porch - Restore of damaged cast concrete and stained glass windows
Garden Terrace- Seismic repair