Gregory Ain

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Gregory Ain
Born March 28, 1908
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Died January 9, 1988(1988-01-09) (aged 79)
Occupation Architect

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".[1]

Esther McCoy said "Ain was an idealist who gave the better part of ten years to combatting outmoded planning and building codes, and hoary real estate practices."[2]


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.

Beginning in 1935, Ain cultivated a practice designing modest houses for working-class clients. In these projects he wanted to address "the common architectural problems of common people", which prompted flexible floor plans and open kitchens.

Ain was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1940 to study prefabricated housing. During World War II, Ain was Chief Engineer for Charles and Ray Eames in the development of their well-known plywood chairs.

After the war, in Ain's most productive period, he formed a partnership with Joseph Johnson and Alfred Day in order to design large housing tracts. His major projects of this period included Park Planned Homes, Avenel Homes, Mar Vista Housing, and Community Homes. 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 engaged Ain to build a house in the museum's garden in 1950.

In the late 40s and early 50s, Ain's practice declined because he was perceived as a communist.[1] 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."[3] The growing "Red Scare" caused him to lose several opportunities, including participation in the 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 died in 1988.[4]

Ain's papers are kept at the Architecture and Design Collection, at the Art, Design & Architecture Museum, at the University of California, Santa Barbara.[5]


  • 1936: Edwards House, Los Angeles, California
  • 1937: Ernst House, Los Angeles, California
  • 1937: Byler House, Mt. Washington (Los Angeles), California
  • 1937–39: Dunsmuir Flats,[6] Los Angeles, California
  • 1938: Brownfield Medical Building, Los Angeles, California (later destroyed)
  • 1938: Beckman House,[7] 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,[8] Silver Lake (Los Angeles), California
  • 1942: Jocelyn and Jan Domela House, Tarzana, California
  • 1946: Park Planned Homes,[9] Altadena, California
  • 1947–48: Mar Vista Housing,[9] 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[12] (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,[13] New York City (later destroyed)
  • 1951: Ben Margolis House,[14] 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


  1. 1.0 1.1 Denzer, Anthony (2008). Gregory Ain: The Modern Home as Social Commentary. New York: Rizzoli Publications. ISBN 0-8478-3062-4. OCLC 232365832.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Esther McCoy, "Gregory Ain" lecture manuscript (1982)
  3. Report of the Senate Fact-Finding Committee on Un-American Activities (1949)
  4. Kaplan, Sam Hall (January 24, 1988). "Ain's Contributions Remembered". Los Angeles Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. link to Finding Aid
  6. "Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument Application" (PDF). 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Thornburg, Barbara (August 23, 2008). "Modern architecture mixes with traditional furnishings in Los Angeles house". Los Angeles Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Schneider, Iris (August 2, 2013). "New life for Gregory Ain house in Silver Lake". Los Angeles Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 9.0 9.1 Treib, Marc, and Dorothée Imbert (1997). Garrett Eckbo: Modern Landscapes for Living. University of California Press.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Gregory Ain Mar Vista Tract Historical Preservation Overlay Zone (City of Los Angeles)" (PDF).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "NRHP nomination" (PDF). 2004.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Denzer, Anthony (Fall 2005). "Community Homes: Race, Politics and Architecture in Postwar Los Angeles". Southern California Quarterly. 87 (3): 269–285. JSTOR 41172271.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Exhibition House with Sliding Walls Opens May 19 in Museum Garden" (PDF) (Press release). Museum of Modern Art. 1950.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Goldin, Greg (August 18, 2011). "Ben Margolis and Gregory Ain: A meeting of radical minds". Los Angeles Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Other sources

  • McCoy, Esther (1984). The Second Generation. Gibbs Smith. ISBN 0-87905-119-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Gebhard, David; Von Breton, Harriette; Bricker, Lauren Weiss (1980). The Architecture of Gregory Ain: The Play Between the Rational and High Art. University of California, Santa Barbara. ISBN 9780940512061.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links