July 20, 2024 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

We Can Still Save The Barry Building

 The Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the Green Hollow Square Project, formally known as the Brentwood Town Green project, was presented to the Cultural Heritage Commission (CHC) on April 7, 2011 which would allow them to provide comments on the project. Submitting comments on this project, which are due on April 20th, is critical for the CHC since the project would result in the permanent loss of a City of Los Angeles Historical-Cultural Monument (HCM), No. 887, the Barry Building. According to the staff report prepared for the Commissioners, the project would also impact a second HCM, No. 148 by removing up to six of the 127 coral trees as well as a reconfiguration of the median on San Vicente Blvd.
The Commissioners heard comments from members of the community including the LA Conservancy and agreed with them that a project alternative that in cludes the Barry Building should be used and that the DEIR does not fully explore that option. The Commission President, Richard Barron stated that he agreed that the description for project alterative 4 that retains and reuses the Barry Building was inadequate. He described the architectural drawing shown in the DEIR as a “cartoon†and not a serious effort to provide a preservation alternative. Commission Vice President agreed and stated that “It is disingenuous to come with a half-thought-out preservation alternative.â€
Destroying a HCM such as the Barry Building has City-wide implications by the precedent that it would set for a private project that incorporates the same uses that the existing building has. Preserving the Barry Building and incorporating it into a new project is really a win-win for everyone including the developer since it will also h ave the least negative environmental impact on the community.
The designation of HCM status for the Barry Building was an exhaustive process that included the Brentwood Community Council, the CHC, City Planning, the Office of Historic Resources, the LA Conservancy, the Brentwood Historical Society, prominent architects, hundreds of community members, preservationists, and the late Julius Shulman, the world’s preeminent architectural photographer of mid-20th century modern architecture in Southern California. At age 96, this was the first and only time Mr. Shulman ever spoke in favor of designating a building that he passionately believed merited preservation. In his expert opinion the Barry Building stands as one of the few remaining architecturally significant specimens of mid-20th Century commercial architecture in Southern California.
Preserving the Barry Building will also be a win for Environmentalists since the greenest buildings are those that already exist. HCH Commissioner Gail Kennard expressed her concerns about the affect demolition would have on adding to landfill waste. And the construction and use of new materials for a replacement building will have a larger carbon footprint compared to the reuse of the Barry Building. The existing design of the Barry Building already incorporates natural ventilation, the efficient use of daylighting, and louvers and landscaping for shading. These features can be enhanced with updated mechanical and electrical systems.
Preserving the Barry Building will also protect the community from other environmental impacts as it stands in place of a larger building which would have larger traffic impacts. The developer is also seeking to add two residential parcels to the project. The denial of this request along with the preservation of the Barry Building will limit the size and impact of this project or any future project on the site.

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