“We’re on job sites every week, and we see many beautiful homes,” says interior designer Jamie Rummerfield, “And far too many times we’ve stepped onto a glorious property in Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Holmby Hills—and the client starts the meeting with the heart-wrenching words, ‘So, we’d like to tear it down…'” So begins the story of SIA, or Save Iconic Architecture, the organization founded by Jamie Rummerfield and Ron Woodson of Woodson and Rummerfield in an effort to protect and save iconic Southern California architecture.
From the Garden of Allah to Jayne Mansfield’s Pink Palace, Southern California is no stranger to storied properties that have fallen out of grace and into the path of the wrecking ball. In fact, just this past summer Richard Neutra’s famed Chuey House went on the market with no mention of its architect (a sure sign that it’s being marketed as a tear down), and one of the many reasons SIA’s existence feels especially ad rem.
In light of SIA’s mission, DECASO is honored to partner with Woodson and Rummerfield for a benefit at this year’s Palm Springs Modernism Week, A Night at the Dinah Shores Estate. Designed by Donald Wexler in 1964, the sprawling Dinah Shores compound is a premier example of what architectural protection and preservation can yield. To gear up for the evening, we asked Woodson and Rummerfield to share more about how SIA came to be, their firm, and a list of their beloved Southern California architectural gems (just in time for a well-placed detour on your way to Modernism Week…)
Can you describe what the defining moment was like when deciding to form SIA?
We’re on job sites every week and we see many beautiful homes. Far too many times we’ve stepped onto a glorious property in Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Holmby Hills and the client starts the meeting with the heart-wrenching words, “So we’d like to tear it down.” Finally, we looked at one another and said, “we can do more than this.” Most people simply aren’t aware of how special and noteworthy the properties here are, and so we’re working to change that.
Since forming SIA, what’s one preservation project that you’re especially proud of?
We are proud to bring awareness to the famed and currently threatened Chuey House by Richard Neutra
What’s one Southern California landmark that’s since been demolished that you wish you’d been able to oversee the renovation of?
The legendary Enchanted Hill designed by architect Wallace Neff. A Spanish Romantica-style estate was torn down by Paul Allen. It’s still a vacant lot today.
Melding Hollywood Regency elements with more modern style is one of your firm’s signatures. What is it about the Hollywood Regency style speaks to you most? And why, in your opinion, is it so timeless?
Hollywood Regency has existed for decades–especially here in Hollywood. The grandeur and opulence of interiors and architecture by Paul Williams, Billy Haines, and John Elgin Woolf is a true part of our California heritage and continues to inspire us.
You’ve taken so many design risks over the years, but is there a favorite design risk you’ve taken?
Our most successful design risks take place when the client is open to all the possibilities. We work with many creative people such as musicians, actors, writers, directors and they all enjoy the magic carpet ride!
What are 3 pieces on DECASO that you’re eyeing currently?
In honor of Palm Springs Modernism Week, what are some of your local favorites?
The Colony Palm Hotel is a historic gem from the 1920’s.
Lead photo by Brad Benson