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john lautner, california architect

los feliz lautner

November 6, 2013 — Leave a comment

The Harvey Residence, in LA’s Los Feliz neighborhood, designed by John Lautner in characteristically exuberant style –

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john lautner, harvey house

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Built in 1950, the house was in terrible shape in 1998 when it was bought and restored by actress Kelly Lynch and writer Mitch Glazer. Lautner principal Helena Arahuete led the restoration, and the original builder, John de la Veaux, came back to assist on it.

The swirling living room is stunning.


John Lautner, an innovative modernist architect who worked in the ’40s through the ’70s, designed a number of curving, round, arched, and wavy homes in California.  He also liked triangles and odd-shaped polygons.  What one doesn’t see a lot of in his designs are rectangles, right angles, and squares.

Perhaps his most famous house — shaped like a flying saucer — is the Chemosphere, an LA landmark.

A Lautner design with a round roof and zigzag glazing, known as the Pearlman Cabin, was built a few years earlier in Idyllwild –

Another house from that same period, called the Hatherall House, had a dramatic circular “great room” –

This jewel of a house, in Palm Springs, featured in the movie “Diamonds Are Forever” –

Like Frank Lloyd Wright, whom he studied with, Lautner was a prolific and successful architect who saw more than 100 of his designs built.  He worked primarily in California, though a few of his works can be found elsewhere. Sadly, a number of his houses and buildings have been torn down, some quite recently.

A fairly comprehensive listing of Lautner’s works can be found here.

John Lautner, a prominent disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright, was attracted to round forms.

His round house in Pensacola, Florida, built in 1958, is said to be in near-mint condition today.  Reflecting the period in which the house was built, its basement apparently contains a bomb shelter with a 30-inch-thick reinforced concrete ceiling, a hand pump well, a charcoal-filtered air system, and an escape tunnel.

Nearly all of Lautner’s other structures, including some round ones, are in California.