The challenge of renovating an iconic midcentury house is surely a daunting one for any architect, but apply this formula to a Richard Neutra house, and the responsibility rises exponentially. This was the situation for Los Angeles–based architect Peter Grueneisen, founder and principal of Los Angeles–based Nonzero Architecture, who inherited the task of taking on significant updates to an already-altered Neutra—the 1949 Freedman House in Pacific Palisades, California. "Being aware of the responsibility that comes with changing an iconic house by one of the great masters, we nonetheless felt comfortable with the task," says Grueneisen. "Dealing with a structure that had previously been altered afforded us the ability to actually bring it closer to its original intent while trying to avoid the pitfalls of making changes that would not live up to the timelessness of the original."
The bulk of the changes would take place vertically in the form of a new second story that would help take advantage of the unobstructed ocean view. Having worked with other owners before being hired by music industry executive Jeff Ayeroff and his wife, Marty Longbine, Grueneisen was intimately familiar with the house and took the opportunity to restore core elements wherever possible. "While the first phase was essentially about restoring the house back to some of its original concepts and adding certain critical, but still missing pieces, the planned larger additions demanded a rethinking of the previous approach," says Grueneisen. Once the house was finished, Ayeroff and Longbine added their own touches to the interior, with George Nakashima pieces and their collection of art and photographs.