Design Matters: SIA Projects

Day in and day out, Ron Woodson and Jaime Rummerfield of Woodson & Rummerfield’s House of Design can be found creating extraordinary projects or studying historic design. During their quest to transform the town with their own work, they uncovered a major problem: Iconic architecture was being eradicated to make room for new development. In order to stop this widespread demolition of design, they founded SIA (Saving Iconic Architecture) Projects and ignited their mission to conserve. 

What was the defining moment that inspired the founding of the organization?  Jaime: We were in Beverly Hills scouting for a double lot that a client could only build on. The realtor took us to the top of Sunset Plaza to show us a teardown that happened to be the "Chuey house" designed by Richard Neutra. At that moment, we both realized we had to help save these legendary structures. 

What is the long-term goal?  Ron: Not only to educate the architecture and design community but also the general population on what exists in their neighborhood. So many people don’t know what is in their backyard. For example, the Herman Miller showroom on Beverly and Robertson was the only showroom designed by Eames and because it’s not landmarked, it could be demolished. We are working to shine a spotlight before the destruction happens, both nationally and internationally. We aren’t afraid of change, but we want to teach people to learn from the past in order to plan for the future. 

What is your biggest roadblock?  Jaime: Patience. It takes about nine months to gain landmark status for each project. You have to show that it is worthy of the stature and show the significance. But at the same time, it’s a race against that clock, as buildings disappear overnight if they are not protected. Banks don’t care and developers will demolish. Terefore we have to shift the mind-set. If you were entrusted with a Picasso painting, you wouldn't paint over it becuase it was out of style. Architecture is art. 

How can the design community further your efforts?  Ron: I think many designers share our same passion and experience. We ask them to trust their design intuition and maintain their integrity. It is our obligation to protect the past we love as many of these properties have given inspiration to what is modern now. When you erase the past, you can’t build the future. 

For more information, visit siaprojects.org. 

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