Chris Pratt, Katherine Schwarzenegger could’ve given Craig Ellwood teardown ‘some honor,’ architect’s daughter says


Chris Pratt and Katherine Schwarzenegger demolished a famed midcentury home designed by late architect Craig Ellwood to make room for a new, modern mansion.

That’s not how Erin Ellwood, Craig Ellwood’s daughter, said she would have gone about it.

“I think it would have been really cool to keep it and do something … add to it in a really interesting, innovative way,” Ellwood told The Times on Monday. “But you know, maybe this just isn’t their style. I mean, it clearly isn’t if they’re building a farmhouse.”

Ellwood, an Ojai-based interior designer, spoke to The Times about her father’s late ‘40s Brentwood commission, known among locals as the Zimmerman House after original owners Martin and Eva Zimmerman. The property, which she described as a “time capsule” because of its Midcentury Modern aesthetic, was purchased last year and set for demolition seemingly without reason. In recent weeks, several reports revealed that the Marvel star and Schwarzenegger purchased the lot for $12.5 million and that their new mansion — to be designed by Ken Ungar — was the reason for the teardown.

On X (formerly Twitter), the celebrity couple quickly faced ire from architecture enthusiasts and other critics. “Wow,” wrote one user who shared an Architectural Digest article. “Wow as in, this is really bad.”

“Chris Pratt bought a BEAUTIFUL 1950s mid century modern house designed by THE Craig Ellwood and demolished it to build a s— McMansion,” one X user wrote on Friday. “My mid century modernist heart is shattered.”

“Imagine tearing this historic house down to build a ‘modern farmhouse’ McMansion,” a second user wrote on Saturday.

As more reports about the Ellwood razing surfaced, handfuls of social media users also revived “Worst Chris,” a dig that stemmed from a viral tweet about the Hollywood Chrises (Chris Hemsworth, Pratt, Chris Pine and Chris Evans).

Representatives for Pratt and Schwarzenegger did not immediately respond to The Times’ request for comment on Monday.

Like Pratt’s online critics, Erin Ellwood said she only learned about the reason for the demolition earlier this month. But she told The Times that she understands “it comes with the territory.”

Throughout his decades-long career, Craig Ellwood brought his indoor-outdoor living approach to several properties across Southern California, including his beachfront Hunt House in Malibu. The Zimmerman house, with its floor-to-ceiling glass windows and open floor plans, was designed early in her father’s career and wasn’t the best representation of his work, Ellwood said.

“It doesn’t break my heart,” she added of the raze.

Still, the home, sold to “The Man from U.N.C.L.E” creator Sam Rolfe and wife Hilda Rolfe in 1975— stands for a timeless architectural movement. Erin likens her father’s lasting Midcentury designs to “the Chanel of architecture.”

“There’s certain fashions that will never go away. They’ll always stay strong,” she said.

The couple’s modern farmhouse aesthetic may not be Erin’s preferred style, but she said she understands why Pratt and Schwarzenegger would want the Zimmerman House plot: proximity to Schwarzenegger’s mother, Maria Shriver. The former first lady of California reportedly lives across the street from the property.

“I don’t feel bitter. I understand the love of family, I understand wanting to be close to my mother or my mother in-law,” said Ellwood, whose late actor mother Gloria Henry also lived by Shriver. “I understand being a multimillionaire and wanting to build exactly what I want and keep my family close. I get all that. Unfortunately, it involved tearing something down.”

Razing the Zimmerman House is not just “so brutal,” but wasteful in a variety of ways, Ellwood added. She lamented that the home did not have some kind of ceremonious sendoff — final tours for architecture students, a celebratory cocktail hour, donation of materials for architectural studies — before it was torn down.

“Is there something more creative that could’ve been done in the process of taking it away that could’ve given it some honor?” Ellwood asks.

She was speaking to The Times on what would have been her father’s 102nd birthday. She says Craig Ellwood “stood for innovation and a new way of California living.”

“I think what people are responding to is [the home] is like this time capsule,” she said. “I think that’s what hurts people so much — is that there aren’t that many great ones.”

With the Zimmerman House now a pile of rubble and Pratt and Schwarzenegger’s new mansion reportedly still in early construction, Ellwood said she hopes the couple considers giving back to the architecture community amid the backlash.

“They’ve got money,” she said. “It would behoove them to do something kind to the world of architecture.”


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