Infinite Space

Stunningly Special


John Lautner’s Cliff Hugging Design – The Chemosphere (c) 2007 Bobak Ha’Eri.

A slightly different monthly feature for now. Focussing on a true genius of an architect who was years ahead of his time. Also fairly rare for us, an overseas series of unique buildings created by a truly unique person – John Lautner. If you are on the Unique Property Website there is almost a moral imperative that you take a close look at the photo above and the picture gallery link below giving lots of views of this. Why? Because Lautner’s style is the very definition of our unique property. Because we would give a right arm for some of his architectural style to grace the shores of the United Kingdom. We start with this veritable gallery with fine examples of what is probably John Lautner’s most famous building……

Feast For The Eyes – Photos Galore – The Chemosphere

Because of tight copyright rules we are restricted, and oddly blessed at the same time. We can only upload public domain or expressly granted copyright photograph examples of the buildings designed by John Lautner. Though as an irony, we can also link to what is something special in and of itself – The Google Photo Gallery system.

This feature might appear a little over-textual and maybe even bland, but just click on some of the links and we defy you not to have a quiet “wow” moment.

Here at unique property the Chemosphere is in our all time top ten of unique homes. The public domain long-lens photo at the top of this page isn’t the best of the set. But if you click on the above Google link – Feast For The Eyes you will have a visual explosion of photographs of this iconic structure. Just imagine being privileged to live in such a marvellous and interesting building. To be the custodian of such a wondrous structure. Even down to the bespoke funicular railway the Chemosphere has for getting up and down the steep cliff edge. One of the original reasons this building was designed to cling to the cliff in such a truly spectacular way was the sheer awkwardness of the restricted piece of land – we certainly have these types of tight difficult building plots in the United Kingdom !The magic ingredient of course, was letting such a dynamic and brilliant man as John Lautner loose on this most difficult of building plots. Really. If in doubt, just go through each individual photo in the Google montage of the Chemosphere link above.

Lautner’s reputation was considerably enhanced by this groundbreaking design for the Leonard J. Malin Residence, otherwise known as the Chemosphere (1960), which has become one of his iconic and most influential creations. Located at 776 Torreyson Drive, West Hollywood, USA, the house was designed for young aerospace engineer Leonard Malin in 1960 and built by John de la Vaux. The steep hillside site had been given to Malin by his father-in-law, but was considered impossible to build on until Lautner devised his design – the typical way to approach it would have been to bulldoze out a lot and put in 30-foot-high retaining walls to try to hold up the mountain, which is just insane.

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Throughout his life (July 16, 1911 – October 24, 1994), John Lautner pushed, overcame, navigated, battled and launched himself past so many architectural boundaries, his legacy lives on and gifts so much to those with a love of, and joy for buildings that contain the unusual and inspirational.

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The next gem we can show is the striking lines of the Sheats Building.

The Lautner Sheats Building (c) 2008 Niels Wouters.

The photo of the Sheats Building above illustrates the striking modernity of a 1948-1949 piece of architecture gereations ahead of it’s time. Located at 10919 Strathmore Drive, in the Westwood neighbourhood of Los Angeles, California, and with 8 apartments within.

This apartment building was commissioned by the same Dr. Sheats who later commissioned the Sheats-Goldstein Residence. If any reader were in doubt about the true meaning of unique when applied to property, the iconic photographs show the Sheats-Goldstein residence in an almost overwhelming deluge of architectural dynamic: – Lautner Sheats-Goldstein Residence

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Moving on, next we have the Elrod House. This John Lautner-designed home was commissioned by designer Arthur Elrod in 1968 and has been featured in numerous books, magazines and museum exhibitions.

Such was the advanced nature and visually striking elements contained in this building it was chosen as one of the feature sets in the James Bond Film Diamonds Are Forever with Sir Sean Connery.

The Elrod House (c) 2010 Expoint Realty

The first photo may appear simple, but it is a classic – and now often imitated – water pool meets edge of the world concept. Visually simple but to many with a keen eye – mesmerising.

The Elrod House (c) 2010 Expoint Realty

This Lautner classic house was placed for sale via Expoint Realty about 18 months ago., but has subsequently been withdrawn from market. Though well worth a polite email to the realtor to ask that they let you know if the iconic building is placed back for sale….. info at expointrealty dot com (email symbols spelt so as to avoid robot spam hoovers)

Expoint Realty has a very nice online sales brochure…

The Elrod House (c) 2010 Expoint Realty

The third photograph shows the courageousness of this 1960’s architect. It is, as has been often said “timeless”. The design doesn’t seem at all out of place today, yet this is a building almost 50 years before its time. Not to mention at the edge of structural technology at a time when such things were simply not “done”.

General Specification:-

The Elrod House by Architect John Lautner, 2175 Southridge Drive, Palm Springs, CA 92264.

Offered at US$13,890,000. Type: Single Family. Bedrooms: 5. Baths: 5.5. Living Area 8,901 Sq. ft. Lot Size: 6.5 Acres.

The 60′-wide circular living is surmounted by a conical dome that fans out in nine petals between nine clerestories angled up to bring in light. Retractable curved glass curtain walls open the entire living room and pool terrace to panoramic views of Mount San Jacinto, Mount San Gorgonio and the full sweep of the valley below and mountain ranges beyond. The very rock of the ridge is incorporated into the design throughout the home. The master suite is a world unto itself. The main house guest suite is a gem. A large viewing or entertaining deck leads to a dome and spiral stair case to a large guest house with two bedroom suites and a maid’s quarters, each with private baths, and a gym with a view.

Finally for this brief piece about the Elrod House we have a link to the Google facility photo gallery ….

For Your Eyes Only – The Elrod House

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For this feature we commence drawing to a close with a few elements for those whose interest has been ignited in Lautner’s heritage and inspired architectural design. Firstly the excellent, almost definitive book:

“John Lautner, Architect”

The price tag may cause a sharp intake of breath, but it is a mark of the value and esteem the work of John Lautner is held in. There are other books to start of with such as:

“Lautner, 1911-1994: Disappearing Space”

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From books we move onto a must. The dedicated eponymous website ….

If you are thinking of contacting the John Lautner Foundation to explore recreating some of the great man’s architecture in Britain, please think about letting us know. We have television companies keen to feature such an inspired build and homage to John Lautner here in the United Kingdom.

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Before we end, the title of this Unique Property Feature is “Infinite Space”. This comes from ….

We would heartily recommend you treat yourself to a copy of this DVD. It does far more justive to John lautner than we could in this small heads-up signpost of brief feature on the Unique Property Bulletin.

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LAST but not least for this article is a simple pictorial taste of the unique works by John Lautner as illustrated via Google ….

Lautner – Google Photo Gallery

Hopefully you have enjoyed our Unique Property Bulletin feature for this month. Any comments, please feel free to email us….



Unique Future Features….

Article features for past, present and future editions:-

Castles In The Air (November 2011); Buy A Bank – Not On The Banks Of Loch Lomond (December 2011); Two Summers & No Winters (January 2012); Inspired By Islands (February 2012); Charmed By Churches (March 2012); Olympic and Large Ship Secrets (April 2012); Lateral Thought & Lighthouses (May 2012); Old Nick (June 2012); Sore Point (July 2012); Infinite Space – Stunningly Special (September 2012); National Assets – National Treasures (October 2012); Leasehold On Life – Freehold & Feuhold (November 2012); Railways, Beeching, Betjeman & Hyslop (December 2012); Coast, A Picture Of Britain & Truffles (January 2013); Take It To The Bridge (February 2013); Going Underground – London Style (March 2013); On Your Doorstep (April 2013); Adventures Afar (May 2013); Coastguard Stations (June 2013); Saved By A Screensaver (July 2013) Labour Of Love (August 2013); Unique People (September 2013), and much, much more.