Battle Over Student Housing Near Neutra's Strathmore Apartments

There's an interesting battle going on near architect Richard Neutra's Strathmore Apartments at 11024 Strathmore in north Westwood Village. According to Micheal Webb, a resident of the famous apartment complex and a frequent contributor to the Architects Newspaper, a developer wants to put up a Togawa Smith Martin-designed student housing project across from the Strathmore Apartments. Here's Webb's side of the story: "Local residents are up in arms at the proposal to build a five-story student warehouse across the street from the Neutra, overwhelming this LA Historical-Cultural Monument, and aggravating the overcrowding of an area that is already straining at the seams. Grandmarc/Landventures has an option on a narrow triangular plot that formerly held a Paul Williams [UCLA] fraternity house, now demolished. They want to max out the site with a warren of tiny rooms that could sleep up to 180 students, while providing only 70 parking places."

Last night, there was a meeting by the Westwood Community Design Review Board at the Westside Pavilion at Pico and Westwood. And it looks like, for now, those fighting the project prevailed. Another reader sends in this report. We ran it by Webb, who confirmed the following happened:

"A huge gathering of local Westwood village residents supported by a who's who of important architects caught developers off guard at a city planning board meeting last night. Clearly they were expected a quick approval of their bloated, ugly project, but when person after person stood up and voiced intelligent and adamant opposition to the design, the panel suggested the developer go back to the drawing board and postpone a vote which would surely have gone against them.

Some of the evening's highlights: When the presenting architect kept insisting the developers had made great effort to respect the tradition of Richard Neutra but mispronounced his name at least two dozen times in the course of the evening.

And the landscape architect's blank stare when asked how he planned to grow fifty foot trees in 3 foot pots..and [a] panel member drawing attention to rendering details which were clear flights of fancy i.e. ten foot retaining walls flanking the planned driveway which the developer insisted already exist on the vacant lot."

Meanwhile, back in 2005, the Daily Bruin covered the Paul Williams house and its demise. The former owner told the paper that they decided to tear the house down because “people were breaking in and doing drug deals. It was becoming a public nuisance. We killed 36 or 37 rats at the end.”

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