Monday, August 25, 2014

Neon Museum: A Mid-Century Case Study

FREE Webinar on September 9 at 12pm

Join Robert Chattel, AIA and Shane Swerdlow for a webinar about the trials and tribulations of saving the Mid-Century Modern La Concha Motel lobby from demolition, its move to a new site, and rehabilitation as the Visitor Center for Las Vegas’ highly successful Neon Museum. Learn how a team of advocates for its protection, a structural engineer, and a consulting preservation architect worked together to save the iconic structure. The webinar is the third and final part of a California Preservation Foundation (CPF) series on architecture and urbanism in the mid-twentieth century.

Robert Chattel, AIA, Historic Architect, will moderate the webinar. Other speakers will include Nancy Deaner, Director, City of Las Vegas, Office of Cultural Affairs; Mel Green, Structural Engineer, Melvyn Green & Associates, Inc.; Shane Swerdlow, Project Manager, Chattel, Inc.; Mara Jones, Architectural Historian, Nevada State Historic Preservation Office; and Danielle Kelly, Executive Director, The Neon Museum, Las Vegas.

Register for the webinar

Registration is free for members of CPF and partner organizations, including Restore Oregon, Nevada Preservation Foundation, Preserve Nevada, Nevada Architectural History Alliance, and The Neon Museum. $15 for Non-members.

 

Robert Chattel, AIA, Moderator
Robert Chattel, AIA is a licensed general contractor and architect in California with more than 30 years’ experience in historic preservation. He established Chattel, Inc. in 1994 and has been involved in achieving creative changes to diverse historic properties throughout the western United States, including a notable array of Modern buildings. For the 1958 Edward Durell Stone-designed Stuart Company Plant and Office Building in Pasadena, Robert consulted on design and construction of an adaptive reuse project integrating the historic New Formalist building within a compatible new apartment community and performing arts venue. He worked closely with public agencies and Los Angeles Conservancy Modern Committee when consulting on rehabilitation of the 1957 Googie-style Harvey’s Broiler, now Bob’s Big Boy, in Downey. As consulting historic preservation architect for the Neon Museum Visitor Center, he collaborated with Westar Architectural Group to develop plans for rehabilitation of the La Concha Motel lobby and a new addition housing museum support spaces. He serves as President Emeritus of the Board of Trustees of the San Francisco-based California Historical Society.


Shane Swerdlow, Speaker
Shane Swerdlow is a historic preservation planner at Chattel, Inc. involved in design collaboration and environmental review for projects involving historic resources. His work on Modern buildings includes a historic resource assessment of the 1955 National Register-eligible, Welton Becket and Associates-designed Schoenberg Hall at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), which houses the Herb Alpert School of Music, and consultation on design of a new addition. He also consulted on and monitored construction of stabilization and rehabilitation work at the 1913 National Register-listed Pacific Electric Railway – El Prado Bridge in Torrance, designed by Irving Gill, a pioneer in Modernism. For the Neon Museum Visitor Center, he managed implementation of National Scenic Byways Program grant funding and worked closely with the Nevada State Historic Preservation Office, Federal Highway Administration, and Nevada Department of Transportation to successfully complete Section 106 environmental review. He serves as Vice President of the University of Southern California (USC) Sol Price School of Public Policy Alumni Association Board of Directors and member of the Board and Planning and Land Use Committee of Los Angeles’ Mid City West Community Council. 

La Concha Motel Lobby disassembled at donor site before relocation in 2006.

Chattel consulted on design of the new addition housing offices and support spaces.

The Neon Boneyard is home to over 150 neon signs.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Chattel turns 20

Chattel is celebrating its 20th anniversary!  As part of our celebration, we thought it would be fun to look back on how Chattel has grown over two decades and catch up with former "Chattelites."  

Chattel Staff
Since its founding in 1994 by Robert Jay Chattel, AIA, President, the firm has grown from two employees to include eight full-time staff members, with seven meeting the Secretary of the Interior’s Professional Qualifications Standards in architectural history, historic architecture, history, and architecture. We enjoy working and hanging out together, especially when good food and drink are involved. In February 2010, Esther joined our staff as a full-time compassionate listener and part-time surveyor. Esther provides an often unheard of ground-level perspective and insists on participating in every conference call and meeting.
     
Chattel lunches at Le Figaro in Los Angeles
Esther stays up to speed on the latest fashion trends reading Modern Dog magazine
Chattel Offices
After moving in 2004 to a storefront office on Ventura Boulevard in the Sherman Oaks area of Los Angeles, we expanded in 2011 to occupy space on the second floor of our building.  In 2012 Chattel opened its second California office in downtown San Francisco at Stevenson Place, staffed by Shannon Ferguson and Justin Greving.

Chattel LA office expansion

Chattel SF is located at Stevenson Place
Chattel Projects
Chattel, Inc. works on projects throughout California, in Las Vegas and most recently, in Seattle.  We have worked on many large-scale, complex projects. Each project presents unique challenges, but our approach is always consistent: balancing continuity and change. On most projects, we work closely with the project reviewers with whom we have developed long term relationships based on mutual respect. Our recommendations reflect that experience and are aimed at streamlining reviewer approval.  For the past several years, Chattel has been managing historic preservation projects at Santa Barbara Mission, including work being implemented under a federal Save America's Treasures (SAT) matching grant, administered by the National Park Service with the help of California Missions Foundation. And since 2010, the firm has served as consultant to the City of Los Angeles Office of Historic Resources, reviewing Mills Act application materials and conducting pre-approval inspections of 50-70 eligible properties each year. Chattel also prepares Mills Act contract applications for private property owners including 1772 Vallejo Street (Burr House) in San Francisco and 128 Hollister Avenue in Santa Monica.

Kathryn McGee and Robert Chattel with Saint Barbara conserved by
Griswold Conservation Associates on the 1820 Mission church facade
1878 Burr House in San Francisco received a Mills Act Contract in 2013
Where are they now?
Many of our former colleagues have gone on to do great work in preservation and related fields.  Here we highlight some of the exciting work they’ve been pursuing recently. 

David and his 2 year-old son Leo in front
of the Philadelphia Art Museum
David Gest
After my time at Chattel, I moved back to the East Coast to get degrees in law and city planning.  I worked at a law firm doing land use and zoning work in New York City for a few years, and last summer I moved to Philadelphia, where I practice land use and real estate law at Ballard Spahr.  I was recently involved in a preservation project, representing the redeveloper of the Art Deco style Boyd Theater (1928) in Center City.  Most of my free time is spent chasing my two kids, who will soon be old enough to play ultimate frisbee with me.

Gabrielle at the beach
Gabrielle Harlan 
In 2009, I was offered a position as a Historical Architect with the National Park Service at Yosemite National Park. My most challenging and exciting project at Yosemite to date is my role as both a member of the steering committee and the primary architectural reviewer for the rehabilitation of the historic Ahwahnee Hotel, designed in 1926 by the Los Angeles-based architect, Gilbert Stanley Underwood. In 2010, I was awarded both a Helen L. Bing fellowship and an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation fellowship at the Huntington Library in San Marino. These fellowships allowed me to be in residency at the library for two months as I conducted ongoing research for my doctoral dissertation on the development of Pueblo Revival Style architecture in the American Southwest at the turn of the twentieth century. In the fall of 2013, I successfully defended my dissertation, and received my Ph.D. in the History of Art and Architecture from the University of Virginia. In my free time, I enjoy exploring cities and towns throughout California, learning to surf, and teaching human communication skills to my recently adopted puppy named Stella.

Sylvia working on the Watts Towers
Sylvia Schweri-Dorsch
After working with Chattel from 2009-2011, I worked with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) on the Watts Towers Conservation Project for three years, where I led the site team performing conservation maintenance and conducted research for a long-range conservation plan. I now work on contract to museum, architectural, and archaeological projects, including Boston University’s Central Lydia Archaeological Survey (http://www.bu.edu/clas/) in Turkey in summer 2014.

Kate at a recent LANI event
Kate Mayerson
Since leaving Chattel 2013, I completed a Masters Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from UCLA, and began working for Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative (LANI) a non-profit organization. As a Program Manager at LANI, I oversee the community outreach, design, and implementation of community improvement projects. I have managed the renovation of three playgrounds and a median, and I'm currently developing a new pocket park and managing an alleyway renovation. 

Marissa is now working at the City of Orange
Marissa Moshier
I recently accepted the position as an Associate Planner - Historic Preservation at the City of Orange.  The City of Orange has one of the largest National Register of Historic Places-listed historic districts in California, along with three tracts of mid-century Eichler houses that the City is working on designating as local historic districts.  I am also working on improving and updating the City's preservation policies to better protect Orange's diverse historic resources. 

Edgar in Office of Historic Resources
Edgar Garcia
During my time interning with Chattel, the US-International Council of Monuments and Sites selected me to participate in their 2005 international exchange program, traveling to Yaroslavl, Russia where I worked with local groups to survey and preserve a historic working-class community.  After completing my internship with Chattel, I was hired as the inaugural Preservation Planner for the City of Los Angeles’ Office of Historic Resources in 2006, overseeing the Historic-Cultural Monument landmarks program.  Since then, I have been profiled by KCET’s Departures series for my extensive work on the L.A. River and its historic bridges, was a speaker for both the ALOUD lecture series on the L.A. River and the Bauhaus University’s 2010 International Model Project Forum in Weimar, Germany. In 2012, I curated an exhibition highlighting the 50th anniversary of L.A.’s municipal preservation program and served as a Diversity Scholar for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. In 2012, the Getty Foundation awarded me a Leadership in Arts Management professional development grant for my contributions in the field of historic preservation and cultural resource management. Most recently, I was awarded a Diversity Scholarship by Historic New England and was also named a Fitch Scholar by the James Marston Fitch Foundation for my research and study of the Chicano Movement’s contributions to architecture and design. In 2013, I joined the administration of Mayor Eric Garcetti to oversee the rehabilitation of the historic Getty House, the official residence of the Mayor of Los Angeles.













 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Chattel Hosts Los Angeles Mills Act Workshop

Chattel collaborated with staff of the City of Los Angeles Office of Historic Resources (OHR) to host a Mills Act Workshop on Saturday, April 26, 2014 at the Barnsdall Art Park Gallery Theatre in Hollywood. Over 100 people, including applicants, consultants, and staff of multiple Southern California cities, attended this informative event. The program focused on the Mills Act Contract review and approval process, common issues faced by applicants, and tips for preparing successful application materials. Presenters included Lambert Giessinger, AIA of OHR, Patricia Johnson-Conner of the Los Angeles County Assessor, and Robert Chattel, AIA and Shane Swerdlow of Chattel, Inc.

Shane Swerdlow of Chattel, Inc. explains Mills Act application requirements.
The Mills Act Program is California’s leading financial incentive for historic preservation, providing potential property tax reduction to owners of qualified historic buildings. Owners must commit to a substantial scope of rehabilitation, restoration, and maintenance work described in a Mills Act Contract that is executed with a local city or county government. 716 diverse single- and multi-family residential, commercial, and industrial properties in the City of Los Angeles have Mills Act Contracts. Chattel is entering its fifth year providing consulting services to OHR to process these Contracts and has performed pre-approval inspections of over 200 buildings. 72 property owners are applying for new Contracts this year.

Robert Chattel, AIA of Chattel, Inc. discusses the Mills Act program with an applicant.
The goal of the Mills Act Workshop was to engage property owners early in the application process to establish expectations and improve knowledge of the program. Chattel looks forward to continuing to serve as a liaison between OHR and applicants as the review process progresses.

Download the Mills Act Workshop Presentation (PDF).  Questions and answers from the Mills Act Workshop are available on the OHR website

Lambert Giessinger, AIA of OHR, Robert Chattel, AIA of Chattel, Inc., and Patricia Johnson-Conner of the Los Angeles County Assessor answer questions from applicants.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Chattel Helps Implement Mills Act Programs in Two California Cities


Representing City staff, Chattel helped implement Mills Act programs in two California cities, Los Angeles and Orange.  Can we help your City?

Robert Chattel discusses Mills Act program requirements with property owners.
Chattel has a very strong understanding of procedures for evaluating and processing Mills Act contracts. For the past four years, Chattel represented the City of Los Angeles Office of Historic Resources in its Mills Act Historical Property Contract Program. The firm reviewed application materials, conducted pre-approval inspections, and prepared summary reports with photographs for over 60 eligible properties this year. Applicants were consulted on site at their property to ensure that recently completed, in progress, and proposed future work conforms to the Secretary's Standards. Chattel often recommends prioritization of specific tasks to ensure Mills Act savings go toward critical projects first, such as structural retrofit work. Los Angeles expects to have a total of about 750 Mills Act properties under contract this year.

Consultant Charlie Fisher (left) and Chattel Associate Shane Swerdlow (right)
review rehabilitation plans for a proposed Mills Act property.
Similarly, Chattel helped the City of Orange implement its Mills Act program this year.  With the largest National Register-listed historic district in California, Orange has approximately 200 existing Mills Act contracts and 9 new contracts scheduled to be approved this year. Chattel conducted pre-approval inspections and coordinated with property owners to develop critical work plans. As part of its contract planning work for Orange, Chattel will continue to advise City staff on improvements to the Mills Act application process and develop a long-term strategy for regular inspections of Mills Act properties.


A Mills Act property in the City of Orange.






Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Mills Act: Learning by Example Webinar

The California Office of Historic Preservation calls the Mills Act the "single most important economic incentive program in California for the restoration and preservation of qualified historic buildings by private property owners."  

On Tuesday, March 25, join Robert Chattel, AIA and Marissa Moshier for a special roundtable webinar with experts working with Mills Act programs in cities across California.  Learn from case studies, gain insight on implementing and managing Mills Act contracts and weigh the financial impacts of the program. The webinar is part of the education program of the California Preservation Foundation.

Robert Chattel, AIA will moderate the webinar.  Other speakers include Mike Buhler, San Francisco Heritage; Lambert Giessinger, City of Los Angeles; Susan Parks, City/County of San Francisco; Marissa Moshier, Chattel, Inc. and City of Orange; John Ciampa, City of San Clemente; Carol Lemlein, Santa Monica Conservancy; Patricia Johnson-Conner, Los Angeles County Assessor; and Shannon Lauchner, Office of Historic Preservation.

Robert Chattel, AIA, Moderator
Robert Chattel, AIA is both a licensed general contractor and architect in California with more than 30 years’ experience in historic preservation. He established Chattel, Inc. Historic Preservation Consultants in 1994. For the past four years, Chattel, Inc. has represented the City of Los Angeles Office of Historic Resources in its Mills Act Historical Property Contract Program. Over that time Chattel, Inc. reviewed application materials, conducted pre-approval inspections, and prepared summary reports with photographs for over 150 eligible properties. Applicants were consulted on site at their property to ensure that recently completed, in progress, and proposed future work conforms to the Secretary's Standards. For private property owners, the firm has a successful track record preparing Mills Act contracts for commercial and residential buildings, including the Burr House in San Francisco and numerous adaptive reuse projects in Los Angeles. For inclusion in the Mills Act program, Chattel, Inc. prepares nominations to achieve local historic designation, as necessary, and consults with local project reviewers while developing scopes of work that address historic preservation objectives. In addition, for properties with existing Mills Act contracts, including Chase Knolls Garden Apartments and Pan American Lofts in Los Angeles, Chattel consults on prioritization for implementation of rehabilitation and maintenance work. Robert Chattel previously served as City of Los Angeles Mills Act Historical Property Contracts Manager. He currently serves as President of the Board of Trustees of the San Francisco-based 143 year old California Historical Society.  
 
Marissa Moshier, Chattel, Inc., Speaker
Marissa Moshier, Chattel, Inc. associate, helped the City of Orange implement its Mills Act program last year as a contract historic preservation planner.  With the largest National Register-listed historic district in California, Orange has approximately 200 existing Mills Act contracts.  For the nine new contracts approved in 2013, Marissa conducted pre-approval inspections and coordinated with property owners to develop critical work plans.  As part of her contract planning work for Orange, Marissa will continue to advise City staff on improvements to the Mills Act application process and develop a long-term strategy for regular inspections of Mills Act properties. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Santa Barbara Mission's Ongoing Rehabilitation

Chattel has been managing historic preservation projects at Santa Barbara Mission for several years, including work being implemented under a federal Save America's Treasures (SAT) matching grant, administered by the National Park Service with the help of California Missions Foundation. A recent KEYT news article and video documents progress, and the need to raise money to provide the grant matching funds. The video focuses on the need for rehabilitation of the convento wing, which contains some of the oldest walls at the Mission property, including walls of adobe dating from the late 1700s, and later walls of sandstone and concrete. Conservator, Griswold Conservation Associates, and Structural Engineer, Roselund Engineering Company, have devised a plan to repair the most degraded portions of the convento. The work will be implemented under the SAT grant, as matching funds are raised. Check out local news station KEYT's coverage for more information.

View NW of south portion of Mission convento wing (located immediately west of the church building)
View NW of front (south) convento wing arcade. The walls shown here are of sandstone construction. They have been covered in an impermeable Portland cement render, which traps moisture in the underlying materials, causing deterioration. Similarly, the impermeable tile floor prohibits water from evaporating. Thus, moisture escapes where it can, which in this case is at the sandstone door and window surrounds (details pictured below). 
Detail of typical convento damage at sandstone window surround. Visibly apparent is the crumbing sandstone, which is literally piling up on windowsills, evidence of substantial deterioration of materials.
Detail of typical convento damage at sandstone window surround, showing sandstone grains collecting, signaling damage.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Chattel's Holiday Celebrations

Chattel LA team enjoyed dinner in the mezzanine at Terroni in downtown Los Angeles
Chattel Los Angeles celebrated the holiday season on December 17, 2013 at Terroni, a new restaurant housed in a historic banking hall at 802 S. Spring Street in downtown Los Angeles. In the setting of a sleek private dining room which was once the mezzanine of National City Bank, our team enjoyed a multi-course meal of southern Italian food and wine, exchanged holiday gifts, and reflected on our firm’s growth and accomplishments.

Chattel is especially proud to be actively involved in revitalization of the vibrant neighborhood surrounding Terroni. In 2006, Chattel prepared a Historic-Cultural Monument Nomination and Mills Act Contract and consulted on the rehabilitation of the ornate National City Bank Building housing the restaurant.


The mezzanine before rehabilitation

The banking hall before rehabilitation

The main dining area
The rehabilitated dining room in the former banking hall (brighamyen.com)


Chattel San Francisco's Holiday Celebration 

Chattel San Francisco attended California Historical Society's annual holiday event, Historic Libations. Chattel associates Shannon Ferguson and Justin Greving sampled classic California cocktails, such as a Negroni and Boothby Milk Punch, crafted by expert mixologists, and toasted the history of mixed drinks along with guests Mike and Erin Buhler, San Francisco Heritage; Erik Kneer, Holmes Culley; Gretchen Hilyard, San Francisco Planning Department; Johnny Hayes, Funcheap.com; and Brian Turner, National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Shannon Ferguson and Johnny Hayes study the cocktail menu