Home remodel: vandalizing a ‘Rembrandt’

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A few days back, I walked through a wonderful old villa designed by one of the top California architects of the 1920s. The house was a lyrical Spanish Revival design, meticulously integrated into its hillside site, and surrounded by pools, gardens and terraces designed by an equally famed landscape architect of the era.I'm being coy about names and dates only because the place is currently in the midst of a sweeping "renovation" that I don't have many kind words for. Despite an apparently vast remodeling budget, the owners turned to a "designer" -- that is, a person unqualified to legally use the term architect -- to carry out the project. Now, granted, I have an obvious bias toward hiring a licensed architect -- especially when tampering with the work of an acknowledged master. But judge for yourself. The designer had gutted an entire wing of the fastidiously detailed old mansion, right down to the framing. He then commenced a remodeling program that ma...