Kelly Sutherlin McLeod Architecture's Restoration of Huntington Japanese House.
Kelly Sutherlin McLeod Architecture’s Restoration of Huntington Japanese House.

As project architect for the Centenary Restoration of the Huntington Japanese House, Kelly Sutherlin McLeod, FAIA, accepted the Governor’s Historic Preservation Award for 2013 in a ceremony at the State Capitol on Nov. 21.

This historic restoration and conservation project has been recognized with five other preservation awards this year — the California Preservation Foundation Design Award, American Institute of Architects Los Angeles and Pasadena Foothills Chapters Design Awards, Los Angeles Business Council Architectural Preservation Award, and Los Angeles Conservancy Preservation Award.

McLeod also contributed a chapter on the centennial preservation and restoration of the historic Japanese House to the recently published and lavishly illustrated book “One Hundred Years in the Huntington’s Japanese Garden: Harmony with Nature,” edited by T. June Li. The book features 140 illustrations and essays by experts in botany, history and architectural preservation.

The restoration of the historic Japanese House and Garden at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens preserves a unique cultural landscape, and sets a singular precedent for the conservation and understanding of international, cross-cultural design.

The Japanese House, the original structure at the heart of the garden, attained significance not as an architectural import but as a historic resource with a unique story illustrating the adaptation of Japanese culture to California. Japanese immigrant carpenters erected the structure both in its first location and when it was moved and reassembled. It retains its original form, as well as its relationship to the surrounding garden context.

The processes and techniques developed on this project have set new international standards and best practices for the care and preservation of Japanese architecture and gardens in the U.S. and throughout the world.

“As a Japanese architectural historian I am grateful for the effort of numerous people to preserve the Huntington Japanese House at the centennial,” comments Atsuko Tanaka of the Nippon Institute of Technology near Tokyo. “The impact of this work in architectural preservation reaches far beyond the United States. It is important…as a symbol of cultural exchange between Japan and the United States.”

The project revealed a cross-cultural masterwork, a hybrid of Japanese design and the regional construction techniques of the early 20th century, advancing the understanding and conservation of cultural heritage and history. The house and garden have been both an anchor and a resource for the local community for over 100 years, welcoming more than 20 million visitors over the decades.

“It was an honor to serve as the project architect for this exceptional team of preservationists,” says McLeod. “I look forward to the cultural insight and understanding that the Huntington Japanese House will continue to reveal in the future.”

Currently, Kelly Sutherlin McLeod Architecture Inc. (KSMA) is engaged in the conservation and restoration of the Hafley House by the renowned Mid-Century Modern architect Richard Neutra, as well as the rehabilitation of two historic residences designed by Charles and Henry Greene, for the Westridge School in Pasadena.

KSMA is an award-winning firm with a commitment to architectural integrity and innovative design. Combining an intrinsic architectural design aesthetic for the preservation and restoration of historically significant buildings with design innovation for institutional, light commercial, civic, urban planning, residential and interior projects for public and private clientele, KSMA has earned a reputation for excellence in both new construction and adaptive reuse.

Established in 1988 and headquartered in an historic landmark building in Long Beach, the company is founded on the design principles developed over the past 25 years by McLeod. For more information, visit

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is a collections-based research and educational institution serving scholars and the general public. More information can be found online at

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