Designer Charged After LA House Fire

Newsletter, West
Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Hollywood Hills home has been repaired following the 2011 fire. (Courtesy MLS)

Designer Gerhard Becker was charged with involuntary manslaughter last week after the Hollywood Hills mansion that he designed  burned down.  According to the LA Times prosecutors claim that Becker installed outdoor fireplaces inside the $11 million, 13,500 square foot home at 154 Viewsite Terrace after inspections were completed. The home was set to host Germany’s “Next Top Model” TV series (we’re not making this up). The fire, which occurred in February 2011, killed veteran fireman Glenn Allen. According to the Times, Becker told investigators last year that “he did not consider them to be fireplaces but rather architectural features or decorations.” But LA assistant District Attorney disagrees: “This man built an 18-foot fire trough designed for outdoors inside the home. It was a recipe for disaster. He essentially put this fireplace on 2-by-4s.”

5 Responses to “Designer Charged After LA House Fire”

  1. Frank Lloyd Wrong says:

    He should have been charged for building the house!!! Total crap!!!!!

  2. Nichole L. Reber says:

    Sounds like Pin the Blame on the Donkey. In this case blaming the architect is asinine. Did the architect actually built or implement the fireplaces, did the homeowner, did a builder? Last I knew, the men in black never get their hands dirty with sac-rete but with fountain pens and drafting pencils. There were lots of people involved in this between the architect and the firefighter.

  3. Jennifer Charles says:

    From what I can tell this man is not an “LA architect”. He is not listed with a CA license on the state license website so he cannot be called an Architect in the state of California. It sounds like he may be licensed in Germany. It makes all of us licensed CA architects look bad when the headline calls him an LA Architect. He obviously did not know or did not care about local building codes.

  4. Dean Nota says:

    According to the California Architects Board, , Gerhard Becker in not a licensed architect in California. If the Board records are correct and if Mr. Becker is representing himself as an architect, he should also be charged with practicing architecture in California without a license. The media should check their sources and stop calling Gerhard Berger an architect as well.

  5. Michael Hricak says:

    Based on my most basic research, it is incorrect to give the title “architect” to Gerhard A. Becker. In this country, unless a person holds a license, a person is not an architect, regardless of education, training or work experience.

    But this story brings into the spotlight, the problems that lead to this situation, namely the three “on the books” regulations that allowed this to happen.

    According to California Law any individual can design a residential building of a certain size. In addition, Los Angeles City regulations do not require an architect to be involved in the vast majority of buildings built in the city. Finally, as was the case in this tragedy, LA City allows anyone, (you, me, your grandmother) providing they own property, to be able to operate as an “owner-builder”.

    This “Trifecta of Foolishness” has, in this case, resulted in the death of an individual who devoted his life to protecting ours. Perhaps this will lead to more reasonable rules.

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