The Beverly Hills home was built in 1958 by architect Haralamb Georgescu. Renowned in his native Romania, Georgescu (1908-77) designed dozens of buildings in Southern California, but never gained the same level of fame here as his midcentury contemporaries. Before he fled Communist rule and immigrated to the U.S. in 1947, Georgescu had a successful career; today many of his modernist buildings in Bucharest are landmarks. His Pasinetti house was featured in the influential Arts & Architecture magazine 50 years ago, but the house fell into obscurity until real estate developer Tim Braseth of Willow Glen Partners came upon the property in 2007. Torrence was called in to help with the restoration of the home, which takes its name from its first owner, Italian writer Pier Maria Pasinetti (1913-2006), who taught Italian and comparative literature at UCLA.
The design of the hillside house, simple and utilitarian, is governed by its geometry: a series of 20-foot cubes, including an open-framed deck in back overlooking the cityscape. The newly designed procession to the house includes spare plantings and a short bridge leading to the second-floor landing. The angular sculpture to the right is a recently installed piece by Georgescu's son, Chris Georgesco.
The geometric rhythms of the home's design create a distilled organization of space that feels larger than its 1,872 square feet. The mahogany bookcases lining the back wall appear larger than they really are -- without consuming much floor space. The bookcases were part of Georgescu's original design. A builder today might line the wall with picture windows to capture canyon views, but the architect used a solid wall to reinforce the home’s geometry.
What had been a small galley kitchen was opened up to allow a greater flow to the dining and living rooms. The Formica countertops were replaced with a smooth, white quartz. To reduce the impact of new appliances and other elements of an up-to-date kitchen, Georgescu’s cabinet design and proportions were taken into consideration during the remodel. A new mahogany finish connects the kitchen to the bookcases in the living room.