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Restoring Wright's Hollyhock House

March 27, 2007

Work continues on the third major renovation of Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House, the famed architect's first Los Angeles project. Crews seismically retrofitted the upper portion of the landmark 1921 home and repaired most of the 22 leaky roofs. As the period landscaping progresses, the city seeks a $2.5-million matching grant to complete a second phase of earthquake modifications.

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Steel reinforcement

The I-beams tie the multiple roofs to the home, seismically retrofitting the upper half of the house. The second phase will link the foundation to the ground.

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Landscaping

Currently underway, a faithful restoration of the west lawn closely conforms to the original design by Wright's son, Lloyd.

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Vertical supports

Steel rods inserted through the columns connect the loggia to the ground, seismically retrofitting the entrance.

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Roofs

Designed as an extension of the interior living space, the multilevel rooftop terraces habitually leaked (see sidebar at right).

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Bringing nature indoors

An overflowing pond and stream, designed to run through a culvert into a moat fronting the fireplace, flooded the living room shortly after the home was built.

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Stabilizing the living room

Contractors used a steel bar inserted through the fireplace to strengthen the quake-damaged living room and adjacent library.

Steel reinforcement through fireplace

Artwork preserved, restored

Fireplace moat

Replica period furniture

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Fixing leaky roofs

A waterproof membrane wraps most of the 22 roofs to repel rain. The unrepaired roofs still leak.

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Repairing the decorative friezes

Wright designed the 600 ornamental parapets as abstract representations of the Hollyhock flower. How workers repaired the friezes:

1. Tag and carefully loosen the friezes from the roofline using hand tools.

2. Remove and lower 100-pound friezes via an incline ramp, store upright.

3. Patch cracks and repair breaks. Clean friezes with low-pressure wash.

4. For those beyond repair, cast new friezes using foam molds.

5. Reattach friezes to roofline with grout and new anchors.

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Sources: Jeffrey Herr, Hollyhock House curator; Brenda Levin and Kaitlin Drisko, Levin & Associates Architects.

Graphics reporting by Brady MacDonald

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Recent regional explainer graphics are available at latimes.com/localgraphics

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