Created By: Friends Of Residential Treasures: Los Angeles
Why is it on the Trail?
An iconic example of super-deluxe Hawaiian-Modern architecture by George Maclean, who designed homes for Hollywood luminaries like Robert Stack and Elizabeth Taylor, as well as moguls such as Daniel K. Ludwig, the American Aristotle Onassis of his day. Maclean’s work goes against the emphasis on space-age weightlessness of the Case Study House program- style modernism so popular in the 1950s. His use of stone and broad timbers under massive sheltering roofs meant that his designs were only acquired by the highest echelon of the monied class.
Easily seen from both Loma Vista Drive and Drury Lane.
The Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
Max Hoffman was the pioneering importer of German automobiles to the United States after World War II, importing Mercedes, BMWs, Volkswagens and Porsches. He commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design him a home on Long Island, New York, as well as a ramped showroom on Park Avenue in Manhattan that predated Wright’s ramped design for the Guggenheim Museum.
Wood roof; stone, wood and marble interior finishes.
Tropical Modernism draws from the history and influences of the Tiki style that began to take shape in Southern California after World War II, reaching its peak around the time that Hawaii became the 50th US state in 1959.
The roots of these styles can be traced back to the United States’ annexation of Hawaii in 1898, which increased Americans’ exposure to the South Pacific through imagery, literature, music and advertising. The development of a design aesthetic superficially informed by these cultures began after the repeal of prohibition. Subsequently, Los Angeles Tiki bars such as Trader Vic’s and Don the Beachcomber became popular destinations in the 1930s.
Interest in Tiki motifs was strengthened by the United States’ involvement in the Pacific Theater during the Second World War. After the war, millions of GIs returned home with memories of their time stationed in the South Pacific, further boosting the demand for Tiki imagery in popular culture, most often in the form of films, bars, hotels, restaurants, bowling alleys and residential designs. When Hawaii became a state in 1959, travel to the South Pacific became easier for an increasingly affluent middle class looking to relax in a tropical setting.
A more pared-down relative of the Tiki style, which is characterized by soaring upswept roofs and Polynesian-inspired Tiki totem poles or moai statues, Tropical Modernism takes a less literal approach. Structures are rectilinear and incorporate modernist uses of glass and stone. Vast interior spaces lead to sprawling outdoor spaces replete with green lawns, lush plantings, and water features. In a loose interpretation of the low rooflines of Hawaiian halau wa’a canoe sheds, roofs with imposing overhanging gables dominate Tropical Modern homes.
The Tropical Modern style was well-suited to Southern California, amongst whose palm trees one can be temporarily transported to the scenic landscapes of the South Pacific. “California, with a near-tropical climate and established history as a gateway to Pacific-Asian culture, was the most fertile breeding- ground of this new style...a design motif promising a life of ease and fantasy.” (Price)
Tiki and Tropical Modern architecture began to fall out of favor in the mid- 1960s, as cultural anxiety stemming from the Vietnam War made them seem appropriative. Although many houses built in these styles fell to the wrecking ball in the ensuing years, enough remained for film director John Waters to remark of Trousdale Estates in 1987, “If they ever publish a parody of Architectural Digest, this enclave should make the cover… Every house looks like Trader Vic’s!”
IDEAS AND PROCESS THAT WENT INTO STRUCTURE:
Fronted by a motor court that could comfortably accommodate up to a dozen cars, the Hoffman House’s cavernous porte-cochère leads to an entrance discreetly nestled deep under the house’s hipped roof. Blurring the line between indoor and outdoor space, a stone cove with tropical plantings frames a walkway floating above a pond and leading to the sliding glass front door.
The interior unfolds in a network of airy living spaces. “Vast horizontal spaces finished with broad expanses of fine stone, wood and marble, simply employed, are hallmarks of George MacLean designs. Multiple ancillary rooms, at loose casual angles, deepen the drama of discovery, adding to the feeling of abundance unfolding at every turn.” (Price) The garden, lawn and pool are visible from these rooms through floor-to-ceiling windows which, in many cases, feature mitered corners for an uninterrupted view. This effect is repeated in the master bathrooms, whose sunken bathtubs face gardens visible through glass walls.
The Hoffmans furnished their home with international accents to complement the architecture’s worldly charm.
BIOGRAPHY OF ARCHITECT:
George MacLean possessed a “rugged brand of studied, highly cultivated informality [that] was only available to the wealthy.” (Price) He designed sprawling, imposing homes for movie stars like Elizabeth Taylor, Robert Stack and Dean Martin, defying both the aesthetic simplicity and the democratizing elements of the period’s Mid-century Modern style.
MacLean died of cancer on December 1, 1985 at his ranch near Hemet, California. His son, Bryan Andrew MacLean, is a musician known for his work with the pioneering racially diverse 1960s rock band Love.
Though little remembered today, MacLean’s work lives on in select neighborhoods of Southern California. “The residences he designed in the upper-class playgrounds of Bel-Air, Palm Springs, Beverly Hills, Newport Beach and the like are valued today by cognoscenti with the most rarefied of tastes. Almost keeping the secret to themselves; they are collected and appreciated quietly by those who favor solidity with their sprawl.” (Price)
ELEMENTS OF STRUCTURE THAT ARE TYPICAL OF ARCHITECT'S WORK:
The Hoffman House is a prime example of George MacLean’s large, imposing structures that defied the preference for “space-age weightlessness” in the 1950s and ‘60s. “Massive stone and masonry volumes spanned by brawny- yet-refined timber beams; vast, voluminous, horizontal spaces capped by ponderous roofs, spreading out for what seems like miles past enormous expanses of glass, often featuring an eye-popping (for the day) blending of indoors and out.” (Price)
“G. Maclean; L.A. Architect, Land Developer.” Los Angeles Times, 12 Dec. 1985.
Maximilian and Marion Hoffman (known to be the owners 1959), Mrs. A Peppers (known to be the owner in 1966),
Albert B. Parvin (known to be the owner in 1970-1994), Stanley Parvin (known to be the owner in 2018)
Maximilian Edwin Hoffman was born on November 12, 1904 in Vienna, Austria. His father had a workshop for sewing machines and bicycles, and Max began racing cars and motorcycles at a young age. In the early 1930s, he and a partner founded Automobilhandel Hoffman & Huppert, which became Europe’s first importer of Volvo.
Being of Jewish descent, Hoffman fled to France after Austria was annexed into Nazi Germany in 1938, immigrating to New York City in 1941. He worked as a costume jewelry designer for several years until he had saved enough money to open Hoffman Motors in 1947. He became the exclusive importer for Jaguar from 1948 to 1952, of Volkswagen from 1949 to 1953, and in 1952, he secured exclusive U.S. importing rights to Mercedez Benz and Porsche.
Hoffman was known for his preternatural ability to understand what his customers wanted, and he counseled the German automakers he worked with on what types of cars they should be manufacturing for the American market. His influence was pervasive, and he was instrumental in the development of many iconic luxury sports cars, including the Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing, the Porsche 356 Speedster, and the V-8 powered BMW 507 roadster.
In 1954, Hoffman commissioned architect Frank Lloyd Wright to design a 3,600-square-foot Hoffman Auto Showroom on Park Avenue, in New York City. The glass and steel structure resembles a “mini-Guggenheim,” complete with a spiral ramp. The previous year, Wright had also designed Hoffman’s personal residence in upstate New York.
Hoffman died on August 9, 1981. The following year, his widow, Marion, established the Maximilian E. and Marion O Hoffman Foundation, which donates to organizations with a focus on education, medicine, and the arts. In 2003, Hoffman was posthumously inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame for his contribution to automobile development and sports car racing.
Albert B. Parvin
Albert B. Parvin was born on January 24, 1900. He was the head of the Parvin- Dohrmann Company of Los Angeles, a manufacturer of hospital, restaurant and hotel equipment. His company owned the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas from 1955-1960. When Parvin-Dohrmann sold the hotel in 1960 for
$10.5 million, Meyer Lansky, at the time one of the nation’s most notorious mobsters, was paid a $200,000 “finder’s fee” for introducing Parvin’s group to the Florida- based buyers. Lansky’s involvement in the sale roused suspicion and Parvin was later placed on the U.S. Justice Department’s list of organized crime figures. Parvin used a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the Flamingo Hotel to found the Albert Parvin Foundation. In 1968, Parvin- Dorhmann owned three Las Vegas casinos: the Aladdin, the Fremont, and the Stardust.
Parvin died on January 1, 1993. He is best remembered for his Mid-century Modern furniture designs.
“Max Hoffman.” Wikipedia.
Heller, Jean. “Mobster Key Man in Hotel Sale.” The Evening Independent, October 22, 1969.
“Maximilian E. Hoffman.” Automotive Hall of Fame.
TALES AND TIMELINES:
Architect George MacLean builds a 7-bedroom, 11-bathroom home at 412 Drury Lane for automotive dealer Max Hoffman and his wife, Marion.
Owner Albert B. Parvin commissions architect Hal Levitt to build a second- story addition, bringing the house’s original 9,000 square feet to just under 11,000 square feet.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Over the Top in Trousdale