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Woodland Hills Building Designed By John Lautner Planned for Demolition to Build Eldercare Facility

Image courtesy LA Conservancy/Helena Araheute
Sometime last week, the Department of City Planning issued a hearing notice (see note below) for the demolition of a building at 6530 - 6560 Winnetka Avenue in Woodland Hills to build an elder care facility containing 81 guestrooms for persons 62 years and older. What the notice didnt mention is that the proposed demolition is for a very significant and rare building design by world renowned architect John Lautner (see description by project architect and pictures below). 

If I read the notice correctly, it specifically states, "An existing office and employment training center totaling approximately 12,000 square feet will be demolished." That training center, I believe, refers to the AbilityFirst's Paul Weston Work Center which was originally built in 1979 and was known as The Crippled Children's Society Rehabilitation Center.

The reason why I believe its the Lautner design is because there is another building on the same property however 6530 is the Lautner design which property records state measure 130,926 in total land sqft with the building measuring 11,214 sqft and is owned by AbilityFirst who are represented on the notice. The other building is located at 6560 which was built in 1989 and measures 74,403 sqft in total land with the building measuring 14,860 sqft and is owned by Rancho Del Valle Housing Corp. So I believe the Lautner design will be demolished and the Rancho building kept.

If I am correct in my interpretation of the notice, the SFV could possibly lose a significant and historic property which cannot obtain preservation protection because of its age or lack thereof. The hearing notice is below for your interpretation. 


The project's architect, Helena Arahuete, best described this unique design for the LA Conservancy
The Crippled Children’s Society Rehabilitation Center in Woodland Hills was designed by John Lautner, architect, FAIA and built by Paul Speer, general contractor, in 1979. Helena Arahuete was the project architect working for John Lautner, and Ben Noble, Paul Speer’s associate, was in charge of the construction.
John Lautner designed the building to suit the requirements of Mary Jane Moore, the director of the Woodland Hills Center. Mrs. Moore wanted to see everything in the Center from her office, without having to use cameras and a monitoring TV system.
The building had to include a speech and hearing department, a workshop, a multipurpose room, a recreation room, an indoor swimming pool, locker rooms, storage, mechanical room, garage, and parking areas. A summer swimming lake was proposed but never built. The Center had to be designed for growth, so it could be built in phases.
Mr. Lautner created a one-of-a-kind design. The director’s office was at the center of a circular, pie-shaped plan. The office was raised three feet higher than the main floor, and it had no interior partitions, so it would provide total visibility to all the wings radiating from this center.
Each of the wings contained one of the departments listed above. Each wing had glass on three sides, facing landscaped areas that separated the wings and provided views, shading, and natural light.
These garden-like penetrations continued in the form of pie-shaped skylights to the center of the building. The structure converged to a central column in the director’s office and continued in the form of steel tie-downs, forming an open landscaped trellis outside the office, completing the circular plan. The trellis was designed to be densely planted, to provide shading to the director’s office.
John Lautner created in this Center, as well as in all his work, an ideal, practical, and inspiring environment. This was the main purpose in his Real Architecture.
-- By Helena Arahuete, July 23, 2013
Some of Lautner's most notable works include the Chemospere just above Studio City overlooking the SFV which was also utilized in the film, Charlie's Angels, the Elrod Residence in Palm Springs which was featured in the Bond film, Diamonds Are Forever, and the Bob Hope Residence in Palm Springs to name a few. Lautner designed more than 200 homes and businesses mostly featured in Southern California.

You can view more SFV Architecture and Real Estate here.


























Image courtesy Bing Maps
Image courtesy Bing Maps
Image courtesy Bing Maps
Mostly open land in 1952 with tract homes starting to be built. Image courtesy Historicaerials.com.
Some buildings erected on the site by 1972. Image courtesy Historicaerials.com.
By 1980, the building was complete and more visible by street due to less trees. Image courtesy Historicaerials.com.

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Marty Mcfly

Anything and everything about the San Fernando Valley. This blog will take you back in time when the valley was covered with dirt and orange groves to a leader in the space race to its current status as America's suburb. Come along and join me on this adventure, I guarantee you have been influenced/impacted by the San Fernando Valley in one form or another even if you have never visited or heard of the SFV.

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