Home Tours Q&A: Frank Clementi, AIA, Principal of Rios Clementi Hale Studios


Important Information:
When: May 19, 2013 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Where: Venice Beach, CA

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Purchase tickets at: www.aialosangeles.org/content/tours

Venice is changing, or has Venice changed? AIA Los Angeles recently touched base with our spring 2013 Home Tours architects to ask them these very questions. Venice Beach was known as a bohemian mecca for surfers, artists and locals alike, these last few years has shown a great deal of growth, some call gentrification, from the Canals to the boardwalk. What has that done to the spirit of Venice? Who is coming to live in Venice along with the change...

Smith-Clementi Residence architect, Frank Clementi, AIA, Principal of Rios Clementi Hale Studios, answers questions on the ever changing neighborhood that is Venice Beach, how Venice's culture has influenced his design and his favorite feature of the home! Read on to find out more.

Can you describe, in your perspective, how Venice has changed from a bohemian cult neighborhood of Los Angeles to the present day?

It may be harder to tell from inside each neighborhood, but I don't see that Venice has changed any more dramatically than the rest of Los Angeles has evolved during the same period. Over the past 50 years Venice has been just one of many former “bohemian cult neighborhoods” of Los Angeles that has seen a steady transformation in the perception from refuge to mecca.  As it is with the parts, so it is with the whole.  If we now draw the pop culture tourists who are historically attracted to the boardwalk farther inland than we used to, then this is just an extension of the same voyeur-meets-exhibitionist relationship that has identified Venice since its start as a live-in theme park. I love the granularity of Los Angeles—down to the 9-block grid of my neighborhood’s walk streets.  I wonder why I'm still surprised that more people don't know about these passages in such a “widely read book” as Los Angeles.  These intimate interactions with our city are what make re-reading “these books” worthwhile.  In this way, communities like Venice—and Los Angeles as an aggregate—have added subtext and layered complexity to what was once just an escapist one-liner story.

How has Venice's culture influenced your design?
The neighborhood’s absolute permissiveness, which may come as an endemic knee-jerk reaction to restrictions, influences my design.  Legally and structurally Los Angeles has very restrictive and sometimes conflicting building codes; and yet, these demands provoke even more alternative responses.  In Venice, there is still an expectation that we should try something new.  “Other is better than good.”  Architectural obsequiousness is suspect. After living here for a few years, our family came to appreciate how the original 600-square-foot house had evolved over 80 years to work with its environment in a process like natural selection.  In our 1996 remodel, we added a series of structural moment-frames that crabbed over the original.  These frames held the second-floor program under an inverted roof.  The load-bearing structure was mostly concealed in a kind of “sleight-of-hand,” deferring to the massing of the original house. In keeping with the culture of alternatives, the 2012 addition subverted our original remodel.  The addition flaunts its rudimentary engineering instead of sublimating it.  There are 34 heavy wood beams that appear haphazardly applied to the facade.  These are in fact the primary earthquake and gravity-resisting structural members, paraphrasing “honest modernism” in expressing materiality and engineering.

What is your favorite feature of the project?

The natural wood framing feels ad-hoc and hand made, the way it filters light and views like a tree house next to the 80-year-old Magnolia grandiflora.  It’s a kind of childhood symbiosis.

Join us this Sunday, May 19 from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM!



About Rios Clementi Hale Studios:

Rios Clementi Hale Studios was founded in 1985 as a multi-disciplinary design firm. We create singular, integrated and comprehensive solutions for a variety of design challenges. Combined, our talents comprise a wide range of professional skills including architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning and design, interior design, graphics and signage, exhibit and product design. Project types include commercial, residential, civic, educational, institutional, exhibits and product and furniture design.

Last updated: 02-May-2013 04:38 PM
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