Wurdeman & Becket’s 1938 Streamline Moderne commercial building in West Hollywood, California is currently threatened with demolition in order to make way for a large-scale mixed use development. Located at 9080 Santa Monica Blvd in the Melrose Triangle (at the border with Beverly Hills, in West Hollywood’s Design District), it sits on land that the large development firm The Charles Company hopes to finally be able to complete its Melrose Triangle development plan; a plan that was first proposed over 11 years ago.
In 1938 Dr. Eugene C Jones hired the team who had recently designed the Pan-Pacific Auditorium to re-design his 1928 building. Wurdeman & Becket redesigned the entire façade, interior, and a 20-25 foot addition to the building’s eastside. Dr. Jones’ Dog and Cat Hospital was the first small animal hospital in LA County and was known as the “veterinarian to the stars” because of his movie star clientele.
Photo (left): Wurdeman & Becket, Bruce Becket Archives
LSA, the CEQA preparer, stated in a 2008 memorandum mailed to West Hollywood’s Planning Department that 9080 Santa Monica Blvd, as a fine example of Streamline Moderne, was eligible for listing on the California Register of Historic Places. After more research, LSA found that Wurdeman & Becket were the architects. LSA notified West Hollywood’s Planning Department, however, since the proposed project was on hold, the notification was put in a file and was not made public, or available to the Historic Preservation Commission, until January 2014. (Consequently, the updated DPR was never filed.) The Melrose Triangle development team agrees the building is historic but they are asking for an overriding consideration to demolish the building. Last month, the West Hollywood Planning Commission voted to recommend the overriding consideration to the West Hollywood City Council.
Since the Planning Commission vote, we have ramped up the fight. We started the Save the SMB Streamline Moderne Facebook page and are meeting with local Council members. Also, we have discovered a cache of original, 1938 pencil- drawn architectural plans, interior and exterior photos, and promotional cards at The Getty Research Institute (donated by the Becket family). The cache has not yet been cataloged but we’ll be posting some of the architectural plans and photos on our website next week!
We are also getting assistance from The Art Deco Society of Los Angeles, The Los Angeles Conservancy, and the West Hollywood Preservation Alliance, and with this newly discovered original material, along with the 2008 LSA memorandum coming to light, we are hoping, at least, that City Council postpones their decision so the new information can be studied and incorporated into the process.
9080 Santa Monica Blvd is a rare and important example of Wurdeman & Becket’s early work (The plans initially list Plummer, Wurdeman & Becket as the architects; later plans list only Wurdeman & Becket. Plummer died in 1939), and is the only known example of a commercial Wurdeman & Becket building in West Hollywood. With its extravagant details including a central tower with stainless steel blades between two flanking wings, stainless steel marquis with an elaborate fascia and soffit, two continuous horizontal bands of glass blocks with steel casement windows, rounded corners, and horizontal redwood trim accentuating the curves it is probably the best example of streamline moderne in West Hollywood.
The building retains most of its original integrity. The only changes made to the exterior are - the front door is not original, a door west of the front door was added in the 1980s, some of the windows in the steel casements have been replaced, and approximately two glass blocks have been replaced.As part of their Total Design concept, Wurdeman & Becket also designed all the interior woodwork, cabinetry, floors, and furnishings, right down to the animal cages and dog head fountain in the atrium. This building is an incredible discovery – an unknown Wurdeman & Becket masterpiece!
The Melrose Triangle will be developed, but the Wurdeman & Becket building should be incorporated into the new design and be restored, re-used, and stand as an authentic icon at the gateway to the West Hollywood Design District. We need people, especially West Hollywood residents, to write the West Hollywood City Council in support of preserving this Wurdeman & Becket Streamline Moderne.
Please visit to our Facebook page to see additional gorgeous photos, and click on the About tab for City Council email addresses and talking points about the Wurdeman & Becket Streamline Moderne. Your letter will make a difference!
Also, please visit the Dead History Project for photos of the original, 1938 Wurdeman & Becket, pencil- drawn architectural plans as well as a hand-drawn promotional card.
-Kate Eggert and Krisy Gosney
Photo (right): Hunter Kerhart Photography