Successful Reboot for Hotel Figueroa

We were happy to notice a colorful article in United Airlines’ Hemispheres magazine about Downtown LA’s beautiful “new” Hotel Figueroa, a recent Chattel project that has been getting a lot of attention since it reopened last February. Thanks to a creative contemporary vision (including a new 12-story tropical mural crawling up the entire west elevation) that plays directly into the hotel’s simple elegance, the two-year rehabilitation is already making an exciting impact.

United Airlines’  Hemispheres  magazine, October 2018

United Airlines’ Hemispheres magazine, October 2018

A noteworthy example of Italian Renaissance Revival design by local architect Lester Hibbard, the 1926 building has a unique and unusual backstory. At a then-cost of $1,000,000, it was constructed for the YWCA and at the time was the largest project in Los Angeles to be built, financed, owned, and operated by women. The re-imagined hotel calls proud attention to this history with an art collection of entirely female artists.

1926 Dick Whittington (USC Digital Library)

1926 Dick Whittington (USC Digital Library)

2018 Hotel Figueroa

2018 Hotel Figueroa

The hotel’s former owner added a Moroccan theme including painted motifs on the S. Figueroa Street façade that urged the building away from its original design, purpose, and backstory. For us, restoring the upper façade with new hung windows and through window units removed was a strong and immediate way to return to its earlier appearance. The street level was opened up with tall steel sash doors and transoms to better connect outdoor and indoor space and enliven the sidewalk.

The Hotel Figueroa is just a few blocks up from the Staples Center, so stop by next time you’re in the area to try one of the two restaurants or just to glimpse the fantastically restored and revitalized 1926 lobby.

Who's Counting Awards?

Chattel is pleased to add three more awards to our trophy case for 2018!. On October 19, 2018, we received California Preservation Design Awards for both the City of San Gabriel Historic Preservation and Cultural Resources Ordinance Update (cultural resources studies) and the Gilmore Gas Station/Starbucks (rehabilitation). The same two projects were honored earlier this year by the Los Angeles Conservancy.

On stage receiving the American Public Works Association award

On stage receiving the American Public Works Association award

On August 27, 2018, we received an American Public Works Association Award for the Historic Westside School in Las Vegas. With more than 30,000 members, the national organization serves professionals in all aspects of public works, including local, state and national agencies. The Historic Westside School was recognized in the Historical Restoration/Preservation category. It was quite an honor for all of us including our client City of Las Vegas and team members KME Architects and Whiting-Turner.

Parking Day LA 2018

Joining in with the nationwide event PARK(ing) Day on September 21st, Chattel turned the parking space in front of our office on Ventura Boulevard into a public "park" for the day. Offering puzzles, refreshments, relaxation (and shade), we hosted passersby in a limited time only public park—our parking space. The idea behind PARK(ing) Day is to reclaim metered parking spaces for a day and turn them into miniature parks, highlighting the lack of public open space and demonstrating that even a small car-sized park can have a big impact.

With tables, umbrellas, plants, and an inviting turf floor decorating our once-upon-a-time parking spot, we all enjoyed the excuse to spend the day outside with the community as people walked by and joined in. Some sat to chat, some helped us puzzle, and others asked whether this was all a new permanent installation of a puzzle store replacing our office. Sadly, not. We completed a 1,000 piece puzzle showing the Santa Monica Pier and Ocean Front Walk buildings we’re working on! So we do have a proven puzzle connection even though we don't sell any.


Small challenges, aside from the puzzles which required a full team effort, included looking out for rumbling buses and remembering to feed the meter! All in all a great day and an interesting cause to highlight by simply having some fun out on the street. Literally.

Colorado Street Bridge Party Afterglow

Pasadena Heritage's Colorado Street Bridge Party was a huge success. On July 14, more than 5,000 guests delighted in the view across the Arroyo while enjoying live music and delicious tacos, BBQ, funnel cake, hot fudge sundaes and more. Vintage cars, such as the 1927 Ford T-Bucket Roadster, 1948 Porsche 356 and even the Back To The Future (BTTF) Delorean, charmed viewers and kids participated in free activities like bubblemania, face painting, rock wall climbing and drum circles. 

This biennial community event supports Pasadena Heritage, which has been the leading champion in celebrating and preserving the iconic Colorado Street Bridge for the last 41 years. It’s always great to see how the community supports the organization and celebrates the Bridge. Hope to see you there in 2020!

Getting Modern with the Getty

Stemming from a desire for function and novelty, modern architecture emerged late in the nineteenth century, and departed from decorative styles of Spanish Colonial Revival and Craftsman. Modern architecture is defined by its simple and linear forms, fluidity between interior and exterior spaces, and emphasis on unadorned materials and natural light.

As part of their "Conserving Modern Architecture Initiative," The Getty Conservation Institute and the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT) partnered to offer "Introduction to Conserving Modern Architecture", a three-day training course on the preservation of modern built heritage. Chattel Senior Associate Laura Carias attended with participants from around the world. The training included an introduction to conservation principles, methodology, and technical solutions to deterioration and material failure, as well as information on today's available resources.

The workshop engaged experts who provided background information and presented case studies and real-life solutions. Participants gained hands-on experience in a lab setting. To culminate the course, participants visited the Eames House where they were given the opportunity to use newly acquired skills to assess conservation issues impacting this modern historical resource.

Two wins at the Los Angeles Conservancy Preservation Awards

Chattel is proud to announce that the former Gilmore Gas Station received a 2018 Los Angeles Conservancy Preservation Award. Chattel partnered with StarbucksValerio, Inc.Spectra Company and a team of specialists to develop a rehabilitation plan in conformance with the Secretary's Standards to restore and re-imagine this neighborhood landmark.

Cited as "a fantastic example of adaptive reuse done right," the Streamline Moderne station was rehabilitated, and enlivened into a walk-up and drive-through Starbucks for the Melrose neighborhood in Hollywood.

The City of San Gabriel also received an award for the renewed San Gabriel Historic Preservation and Cultural Resource Ordinance. Chattel worked with San Gabriel and SWCA Environmental Consultants, Inc. to update the 1965 ordinance for today.

As a result of the updated ordinance, San Gabriel qualifies to become a Certified Local Government (CLG), which would make it eligible for grants to support preservation efforts. The updated ordinance aims to be user-friendly and calls for the creation of a Historic Preservation Commission. It also enables San Gabriel to protect and maintain neighborhoods with the designation of historic districts and the establishment of Conservation Overlay Zones while continuing to protect historic and cultural resources, including archaeological sites of the Gabrielino-Tongva tribe.

2018 California Preservation Conference Highlights

Chattel, Inc. attended the 2018 California Preservation Conference in Palo Alto (May 17-20) and explored innovative historic preservation in the Silicon Valley and throughout California.

Associates Christine di Iorio and Brian Matuk toured the NASA Ames Research Center, site of spacecraft aerodynamics testing for the Apollo and other space missions. The tour granted access to areas normally off-limits to the public, such as the inside of a wind tunnel as well as the facility that simulates atmospheric reentry. Guests also visited Hangar One (1933), one of the largest freestanding structures in the world, and the subject of an ongoing adaptive reuse challenge.

Another highlight of the conference included a tour of the Greenmeadow neighborhood of Palo Alto, an Eichler-designed housing tract with then affordable and modern single-story homes. A National Register historic district, this community-centered suburb includes houses designed by architects A. Quincy Jones and Frederick Emmons. 

At the Chattel-sponsored Three Minute Success Stories, attendees enjoyed a showcase of exciting tales of peril, perseverance and buildings saved from demolition and received a complementary This Drink Matters rocks glass designed by HABS photographer extraordinaire Stephen “Schaf” Schafer. The closing event was at the birthplace of Silicon Valley, the garage in Professorville where Hewlett Packard got its start.

Next year the CPF Conference will be held in Palm Springs, the mecca for enthusiasts of Mid-Century Modernism. Chattel will be there—will you?

Sun Tech Townhomes wins Santa Monica Conservancy Stewardship Award!

Robert Chattel, historic preservation consultant, Alison Perchuk, former Sun Tech Townhomes HOA president and resident, and Tom Cleys, Santa Monica Conservancy board member

Robert Chattel, historic preservation consultant, Alison Perchuk, former Sun Tech Townhomes HOA president and resident, and Tom Cleys, Santa Monica Conservancy board member

Chattel is proud to announce that Sun Tech Townhomes Owners Association (HOA) received a 2018 Santa Monica Conservancy Stewardship Award. The award recognizes the diligent work necessary to maintain integrity of this 1981 Postmodern 18-unit Landmark.

In 2017 the property was designated a City of Santa Monica (City) Landmark, and in 2018 Chattel assisted in obtaining a Mills Act Contract between the HOA and the City to enable rehabilitation, restoration and maintenance. Without the Mills Act Contract, the scope of work would have been prohibitively expensive.

All 18 property owners had to consent to the HOA entering into the Mills Act Contract and Chattel facilitated this effort. While most Mills Act Contracts have a 10-year implementation schedule, due to the high cost and complexity of necessary work, a 15-year implementation schedule was proposed by the HOA and accepted by the City.

As an exemplar of modern design and technological innovation, Sun Tech Townhomes is a remarkable example of Postmodern design with asymmetrical volumes, grid-incised and curvilinear walls, distinct color palette and communal pathways. Our collaborative efforts ensure that this distinctive property will be preserved and shared with future generations.


Psst! The Password is "Celebrate"

On Thursday, April 19, 2018, the Mob Museum Improvement Project opened to great fanfare and clinking of Prohibition-era cocktails in the Underground speakeasy and distillery. Robert Chattel and Caroline Raftery also visited the new Use of Force and Crime Lab experiences, which debuted earlier this year.

Check out the press in the Las Vegas Review Journal and Wall Street Journal. And, special thanks to the Las Vegas Historic Preservation Commission, Nevada State Historic Preservation Office and National Park Service for your continued support of this cutting edge, culturally significant, and FUN adaptive reuse project. Make your way to the Underground! 

CHS Gala at Old U.S. Mint

CHS President Emeritus Robert Chattel and SHPO Julianne Polanco at the 2018 Gala (Drew Altizer)

CHS President Emeritus Robert Chattel and SHPO Julianne Polanco at the 2018 Gala (Drew Altizer)

Robert Chattel was honored to be one of several former California Historical Society board of trustee members to attend the Gala event on January 11, 2018 honoring statesman George P. Shultz. A tireless public servant, Dr. Shultz served two different Republican presidents of the United States: as Secretary of Labor, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Secretary of the Treasury under Richard Nixon, and then as Secretary of State under Ronald Reagan. In 1972, while serving as Secretary of the Treasury in the Nixon Administration, Dr. Shultz helped save the Old U.S. Mint from demolition, preserving one of the most important historic buildings in the western United States. In 2016, the City and County of San Francisco selected CHS, the State’s official historical society, as its partner on the Old U.S. Mint Restoration Project. Together CHS and San Francisco are exploring the 1874 National Historic Landmark as CHS' future headquarters and a center for history and learning. Images below are from 2016 when CHS and San Francisco announced a $1 million State grant to fund additional work to further the project.