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Olan G. and Aida T. Hafley House Restoration | 2015

Olan G. and Aida T. Hafley House Restoration | 2015

Architect: Kelly Sutherlin McLeod Architecture, Inc.
Original Architects: Richard J. Neutra (1953)
Client: Hafley House, LLC.
Project Conservators: Griswold Conservation Associates, LLC.
General Contractor: Mannigan Design
Structural Engineers: Structural Focus
Architectural Historian: Lamprecht ArchiTEXTural
Landscape Architects: Lisa Gimmy Landscape Architecture
Photographer: John Ellis - John Ellis Photo Julius Shulman Photography Archive - The Getty Research Institute


Designed by Richard J. Neutra in 1953, the restoration architects of the Hafley House have lovingly brought back to life a house that has a special place in the work of the Neutra office—using historic and new but appropriate materials— to successfully return the house to the architect’s original intention.

Neutra designed the Hafley House and adjacent one-story dwelling as an integrated architectural composition.

These structures are Modern and characteristically “Neutra,” yet harmonious with the neighborhood’s more traditional architectural character.

The open-plan interior is striking. The range of features that exploit the potential of a sloped roof reflects a command of complexity rare in Neutra’s comparable mid-century American designs.

The Hafley House is not “typical Neutra,” usually experienced as an isolated flat-roofed example of the International or post-and-beam styles, standing amidst other homes less radically inclined.

Retaining a high degree of integrity, the house contributes a superb expression of Modernist architecture to California’s cultural heritage. Architectural conservation for Modern buildings is challenging, testing the application of leading preservation standards and methodologies.

Modernism’s essential characteristics contribute to its vulnerabilities, including the complexities of conserving modern building materials. Materials conservation issues encountered in the field require innovative solutions for both practitioners and the building industry.

The specific goal for this conservation project was to restore this mid-century landmark with a value-based approach, honoring the original design intent and aesthetic, while respecting the authentic patina of the materials age.

The challenge was to develop a best preservation practice approach for this mid-century treasure, balancing authenticity with Neutra’s intended pristine aesthetic. Beautiful compositions of modern materials, colors and textures that date from the mid-20th-Century often present a daunting challenge for restoration.

Over time common mid-century materials can lose their original immaculate appearance. Materials as recent and familiar as Masonite, homosote, plywood, and plastic were carefully evaluated and retained.

The project team was committed to honestly reflecting the age of the building while fully respecting the original design intent for purity of form, materials and finishes. Repair and restoration was carefully balanced with cautious replacement, only as absolutely necessary, so as not to take buildings and their elements out of their historic context.

Remaining built in cabinetry was restored, and missing built in cabinetry was reconstructed to match the original Neutra design.

Although the project is modest in scale, the value of Neutra’s close personal oversight of the original construction has been honored. This successful restoration was guided by a value-based approach true to historic significance, age, condition, authenticity and integrity.


Olan G. and Aida T. Hafley House Restoration
Olan G. and Aida T. Hafley House Restoration

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