Painted Desert Community Complex Brought Back to Life

The Painted Desert Community Complex is an exceptional example of Mission 66, a nationwide infrastructure program undertaken by the National Park Service between 1956 and 1966 that resulted in a radically new Modern style of Park architecture. Prior to that time, visitors’ services were scarce or even non-existent in our National Parks and Monuments, which were becoming increasingly popular.  The Park Service hired the firm of Neutra and Alexander, Associated Architects to imagine a new complex for the Petrified Forest National Park. The complex Richard Neutra developed with his business partner, Robert E. Alexander, represented a new and innovative approach to providing visitor services, offices, maintenance, community services, and employee housing all in one location inside a park.

Neutra and Alexander designed a single complex of over 30 buildings as a Modern oasis in the middle of a strange and beautiful geological landscape. The low, crisp lines of Neutra's buildings and the limited color palette of white plaster surfaces with small accents of silver, dark red, turquoise, and yellow were intended to carefully complement and contrast with the rolling hills and valleys that surround it. Over time, changes and repairs were made that gradually altered the complex. One of the most dramatic changes was the decision to repaint the entire complex in the standard tan and brown associated with the more traditional, rustic NPS architecture. 

Historic Resources Group was hired to analyze the paint and restore the original color scheme. HRG’s John LoCascio, AIA, completed a detailed analysis of the paint colors and their locations in and around the courtyard, which is the site’s primary public space. To learn more and contribute to the ongoing rehabilitation effort, please go to the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s project website:

Image: John LoCascio, AIA, of HRG takes a paint sample at the Painted Desert Community Complex.


HRG wins Los Angeles Conservancy awards.

Historic Resources Group was the historic preservation consultant on two teams that won 2015 Los Angeles Conservancy Preservation Awards. HRG prepared the federal historic tax credit certifications for both the Lincoln Place apartment complex in Venice for Aimco, and the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills. Lincoln Place is one of the largest post-World War II garden apartment complexes in California, and faced an uncertain future for many years when a previous developer made plans to demolish it. Thankfully, now hundreds of residents are able to enjoy expansive green space and sustainable living in historic buildings.  “The Wallis” is an adaptive reuse project that converted the 1934 Beverly Hills Post Office designed by Ralph C. Flewelling into a performing arts theater and education complex. HRG assisted with the formulation of a compatible addition and careful treatment of the Italian revival post office building, submittals to the California Office of Historic Preservation and the National Park Service, and on-the-scaffold monitoring during construction. 

Top Image: Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts by John Edward Linden.

Image Above Left: Lincoln Place by Luke Gibson.



House on the run!

The 1892 Decker House, former home of cigar shop owner Frank Decker and his wife Anna, is today one of Pasadena’s treasured Victorian-era buildings. The development of a 70-unit apartment complex for low-income seniors by Bridge Housing required the temporary relocation of the Decker House for its protection during construction. The house will be given a facelift and will be returned to its original location as part of the residential project. Initial plans to relocate the Decker House to a different location fell through, and we like to think Frank and Anna would be happy that their former home will stay in the neighborhood serving an important community need.

See the Decker House “in motion” above. As preservation consultant for the project, Historic Resources Group prepared a relocation plan, moving and protection protocols, and will assist in monitoring the building throughout construction.


Video courtesy of Eric Van den Bosch, Dreyfuss Construction. launches at the Getty Center.

On March 17th, Historic Resources Group joined the Los Angeles Office of Historic Resources, the Getty Conservation Institute, and several hundred guests at the Getty Center to celebrate the launch of Developed by the Getty Conservation Institute, HistoricPlacesLA is the first online information and management system specifically created to inventory, map, and describe Los Angeles’ significant cultural resources. The website includes properties identified as part of SurveyLA, the first citywide historic resources survey. HRG has been an integral part of the SurveyLA effort since its inception. A highlight of the event was a “whirlwind tour” of SurveyLA given by HRG Senior Preservation Planner Kari Fowler and other members of the project team, highlighting the process, findings, and challenges.

Image: Kari Fowler presents at the HistoricPlacesLA launch event at the Getty Center.



HRG presents at upcoming CPF CEQA workshop.

Space is still available for the California Preservation Foundation’s workshop “CEQA: How it Really Works,” which will take place at the University of Southern California campus from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm on May 21. Adopted in 1970, the California Environmental Quality Act is a critical tool for protecting the state’s historic resources. All projects undertaken by a public agency, and many projects undertaken by private parties, are subject to CEQA review. Despite its widespread and effective use as a preservation tool, it is frequently misunderstood or misinterpreted. The workshop will explore CEQA from different perspectives: historic preservation professionals, City staff members, land use attorneys, and preservation advocates. Through a series of case studies, participants will discuss the strengths and limitations of CEQA in evaluating project impacts on historic resources, implementing appropriate mitigation measures, and advocating for historic properties. Speakers include Historic Resources Group Principals Paul Travis, AICP, and Christine Lazzaretto; Amy Forbes, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher; Adrian Scott Fine, Los Angeles Conservancy; and Erik Krause, City of Glendale. For more information and to register for the workshop, please go to the CPF website

Image: Site plan showing Sunset Bronson Studios in Hollywood used to evaluate impacts to historic resources. The  CPF workshop on May 21 will discuss real-world examples to illustrate the CEQA process.