The San Marino Planning Commission unanimously approved a modification to a conditional use permit, which was granted to The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in 2001, to change the size and orientation of three accessory buildings associated with the Chinese Garden.
The Northern Service Building, Penjing Restrooms and Penjing Service Building were approved and permitted by the planning commission as part of an overall master plan, which outlined sub-gardens and phases of construction, prepared by The Huntington in 2001.
“The intent of the project is to modernize the facilities—to address the needs for the current demand for the Garden,” according to report by city of San Marino Planning staff.
The staff report continued, “Although the proposal includes an additional 2,447 square feet of structure, the site is large enough to incorporate landscaping fences, walls and loading areas.”
The commission also unanimously approved a conditional use permit for a new 1,920 square foot art gallery in the area of the Chinese Garden.
Regarding the new art gallery, which would be the second art gallery in that portion of The Huntington, The Huntington’s Vice President for Advancement Randy Shulman noted, “we really wanted to have a second space that could really have things on paper that are light sensitive.”
He continued, “It is not anticipated that we’re going to collect Chinese art. It’s going to have temporary, small exhibits.”
Planning commissioners agreed with city staff, which approved of both components of The Huntington’s application.
Commission Vice Chairperson Susan Jakubowski thanked architect Jim Fry for the “detailed work that has been put into this proposal.”
“I can fully support this. It’s exciting to see that the Chinese Garden continues in its development. So far it seems to be seamlessly growing and so nicely coming together,” she noted, adding that she hopes that the Garden continues its seamless growth.
“The Garden really is one of the most significant gardens in the world. It is by far the best and most well planned Chinese garden outside of China, as well as including China,” said Commissioner Raymond Cheng.
Commissioner Howard Brody added, “This is really a gem within a gem. Certainly what’s been proposed is going to make it even more attractive. I could support it in its entirety.”
The planning commission unanimously approved a new 4,159 square foot single-family residence to replace an existing 1,791 square foot residence on the north end of property of The Huntington Library.
Just like the existing house, the new house will also serve as the residence of The Huntington’s director of research, Steve Hindle, and his family.
“The design of the proposed house is a style anchored in The Huntington aesthetic while looking forward. Huntington himself was a very forward-looking person. He was drawn to new innovative materials and many he used on his ranch,” said house architect Kelly Sutherlin-McLeod.
“The project is to be of the place as a pavilion in the garden much more so than an architectural icon set in the middle of a garden,” she noted, stating that the design sought to create indoor and outdoor living spaces, maximize natural light and achieve sustainability.
“We are aiming for LEED home certification. And this will possibly be the first single family home to receive this certification in San Marino,” Sutherlin-McLeod said.
“We are approaching the LEED certification holistically from the entire design including collection of ground water, percolation of water [and] the drive area of the gate—we’d like to use permeable concrete,” she explained. “So it’ll be site design, it’ll be building design, it’ll be the materials that we use [and] it’ll be the type of furnishings that go in the house.”
Sutherlin-McLeod noted that materials removed from Huntington buildings during previous renovation may be included in the house.
“The simple style of the new house provides a backdrop with which we can showcase these artifacts,” she said.
Other materials to be used on house are limestone, metal wall panels, board-formed concrete, stone veneer for the chimney, a standing seam metal roof, metal and wood soffits and overhangs, aluminum windows and doors and a wood garage.
Though the city’s staff report expressed concern regarding the metal wall panels and standing seam metal roof, commissioners did not.
“I think this is going to be a very good addition to the Library. I like that honest feel of the material and capturing the space both interior and exterior,” said Commissioner Cheng.
“I think a committee-type review of the materials is going to deprecate the project. I don’t want to see that happen,” said Commissioner Brody, expressing his support for the project.
“I think this is a well-designed project, especially that it’s environmentally friendly,” said Commissioner Hsu.
The commission also approved a new gate, which will be used by the residents of the house for entry off of Orlando Rd. The new iron gate will replace an existing chain link gate, which—like the existing residence—was not found to be original or of historic significance.
In other business…
A conditional use permit to operate a music academy at 2491 Huntington Dr. was unanimously continued to the commission’s March meeting due to the applicant’s absence.
Commissioners and staff raised concerns regarding about parking requirements and pick-up and drop-off scenarios, but expressed a sincere desire to fill the space in an effort to reduce the vacancy rate along Huntington Dr.