Los Angeles, California

Skillful restoration of a Silver Lake architectural icon

Merit Award: Gordon Olschlager, Los Angeles (323/662-4219)

Challenge: Restore a landmark of midcentury design ― a 1,000-square-foot garden apartment designed by well-known Los Angeles modernist Gregory Ain in 1947 ― to its original state while adding storage and other elements to update its livability. The unit is part of the Avenel Cooperative Housing Project in the Silver Lake District.

Solution: Gordon Olschlager, an architect who specializes in restoration, was meticulous in his research and execution ― he used Ain's working drawings as his guide. He deftly removed insensitive additions like a shed roof over the curved utility porch (shown in the "before" photograph), restored the sliding glass walls and sliding wood room dividers, replaced the wood window frames, and even replicated Ain's unique triangular wood baseboard. The result is dramatic, breathing new life into a classic.

Special effects:
• When Olschlager added elements, like extra storage walls, he made sure they were in the spirit of Ain's original design. He even installed a built-in dining table that Ain couldn't put in because of objections from the Federal Housing Administration, which provided the original financing.