March 28, 1908|
January 9, 1988 (aged 79)|
Los Angeles, California
(m. 1929; div. 1938)
Josephine Cohen (m. 1938)
(m. 1964; div. 1967)
Gregory Ain (March 28, 1908 – January 9, 1988) was an American architect active in the mid-20th century. Working primarily in the Los Angeles area, Ain is best known for bringing elements of modern architecture to lower- and medium-cost housing. He addressed "the common architectural problems of common people".
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1908, Ain was raised in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles. For a short time during his childhood, the Ain family lived at Llano del Rio, an experimental collective farming colony in the Antelope Valley of California.
He was inspired to become an architect after visiting the Schindler House as a teenager. He attended the University of Southern California School of Architecture in 1927–28, but dropped out after feeling limited by the school's Beaux Arts training.
His primary influences were Rudolph Schindler and Richard Neutra. He worked for Neutra from 1930 to 1935, along with fellow apprentice Harwell Hamilton Harris, and contributed to Neutra's major projects of that period.
Following his collaborative relationship with Richard Neutra, in 1935 Ain cultivated an individual practice designing modest houses for working-class and middle class clients.
Ain was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1940 to study housing. During World War II, Ain was Chief Engineer for Charles and Ray Eames in the development of their well-known leg-splints and plywood chairs, including the DCW and LCW series.
The 1930s and 1940s represented Ain's most productive period. During this period, his principled quest to address "the common architectural problems of common people", prompted the implementation of flexible floor plans and open kitchens. In the 1940s, he formed a partnership with Joseph Johnson and Alfred Day in order to design large housing tracts. Major projects of this period included Community Homes, Park Planned Homes, Avenel Homes, and Mar Vista Housing. He collaborated with landscape architect Garrett Eckbo on each of these projects. They were an expression of Mid-century modern design. Ain also practiced in a "loose partnership" with James Garrott, and they built a small office building together on Hyperion Avenue in the Silver Lake neighborhood. These projects attracted the attention of Philip Johnson, the curator of architecture at the Museum of Modern Art, who commissioned Ain to design and construct MoMA's second exhibition house in the museum's garden in 1950, following that of Marcel Breuer in 1949.
In the late early 50s, Ain's practice was diminished as he was perceived as a communist. For example, in 1949 he was listed by the California Senate Factfinding Subcommittee on Un-American Activities as "among the committee's most notorious critics." The growing "Red Scare" caused him to lose several opportunities, including participation in John Entenza's Case Study Program.
Ain also taught architecture at USC after the war. Then, from 1963 to 1967, he served as the Dean of the Pennsylvania State University School of Architecture. He then returned to Los Angeles and died in 1988.
- 1936: Edwards House, Los Angeles, California
- 1937: Ernst House, Los Angeles, California
- 1937: Byler House, Mt. Washington (Los Angeles), California
- 1937–39: Dunsmuir Flats, Los Angeles, California
- 1938: Brownfield Medical Building, Los Angeles, California (later destroyed)
- 1938: Beckman House, Los Angeles, California
- 1939: Daniel House, Silver Lake (Los Angeles), California
- 1939: Margaret and Harry Hay House, North Hollywood, California
- 1939: Tierman House, Silver Lake (Los Angeles), California
- 1939: Vorkapich Garden House, for Slavko Vorkapich, Beverly Hills, California (later destroyed)
- 1941: Ain House, Hollywood, California
- 1941: Orans House, Silver Lake (Los Angeles), California
- 1942: Jocelyn and Jan Domela House, Tarzana, California
- 1946: Park Planned Homes, Altadena, California
- 1947–48: Mar Vista Housing, Mar Vista (Los Angeles), California
- 1948: Avenel Homes (cooperative), Silver Lake, Los Angeles, California
- 1948: Albert Tarter House, Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California
- 1948: Hollywood Guilds and Unions Office Building, Los Angeles, California (later destroyed)
- 1948: Miller House, Beverly Hills, California
- 1948: Community Homes (cooperative), Reseda (Los Angeles), California (unbuilt)
- 1949: Ain & Garrott Office, Silver Lake, Los Angeles, California
- 1949: Schairer House, Los Angeles, California
- 1950: Beckman House II, Sherman Oaks, California
- 1950: Hurschler House, Pasadena, California (later destroyed)
- 1950: MOMA Exhibition House, New York City (whereabouts unknown; presumably destroyed)
- 1950: Ralphs House, Pasadena, California
- 1951: Ben Margolis House, Los Angeles, California
- 1951: Mesner House, Sherman Oaks, California
- 1952: Richard "Dick" Tufeld House, Los Angeles, California
- 1953 : Feldman House, Beverly Crest/Beverly Hills PO, California
- 1962–63: Ernst House II, Vista, California
- 1963: Kaye House, Tarzana, California
- 1967: Ginoza House, State College, Pennsylvania
Awards and honors
- Denzer, Anthony (2008). Gregory Ain: The Modern Home as Social Commentary. New York: Rizzoli Publications. ISBN 0-8478-3062-4. OCLC 232365832.
- Esther McCoy, "Gregory Ain" lecture manuscript (1982)
- Denny, Phillip R. (August 9, 2017). "The Architect, the Red Scare and the House That Disappeared". New York Times. nytimes.com. Retrieved 2017-08-12. Print version, "The Architect and the House That Vanished", August 12, 2017, p. C3.
- Report of the Senate Fact-Finding Committee on Un-American Activities (1949)
- Kaplan, Sam Hall (January 24, 1988). "Ain's Contributions Remembered". Los Angeles Times.
- link to Finding Aid
- "Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument Application" (PDF). 2009.
- Thornburg, Barbara (August 23, 2008). "Modern architecture mixes with traditional furnishings in Los Angeles house". Los Angeles Times.
- "Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument Application" (PDF). 2009.
- Schneider, Iris (August 2, 2013). "New life for Gregory Ain house in Silver Lake". Los Angeles Times.
- Treib, Marc, and Dorothée Imbert (1997). Garrett Eckbo: Modern Landscapes for Living. University of California Press.
- "Gregory Ain Mar Vista Tract Historical Preservation Overlay Zone (City of Los Angeles)" (PDF).
- "NRHP nomination" (PDF). 2004.
- Denzer, Anthony (Fall 2005). "Community Homes: Race, Politics and Architecture in Postwar Los Angeles". Southern California Quarterly. 87 (3): 269–285. JSTOR 41172271.
- "Exhibition House with Sliding Walls Opens May 19 in Museum Garden" (PDF) (Press release). Museum of Modern Art. 1950.
- O'Connor, Pauline (Jul 31, 2017). "Landmarked midcentury modern by Gregory Ain in Pasadena lists for $3M". Curbed.com.
- Goldin, Greg (August 18, 2011). "Ben Margolis and Gregory Ain: A meeting of radical minds". Los Angeles Times.
- "Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument Application" (PDF). 2008.