2138 Micheltorena St, Silver Lake 90039 – “The Reiner-Burchill Residence” (Silvertop), John Lautner, architect, Construction: 1956-1976 – Built for Ken Reiner, Sold 1974 to The Burchills, For Sale 2014 at $7,500,000
Silvertop — the Reiner-Burchill Residence — was originally commissioned in 1956 by Kenneth Reiner, an entrepreneur who became wealthy with industrial designs for a spring-loaded ladies hair clip and a self-locking lightweight aircraft nut. “Silvertop” is named for its expansive concrete domed ceiling over the living area, which seems to rest on walls of glass, as it peers down upon the Silver Lake Reservoir.
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Focused on technology and engineering, Reiner and Lautner made excellent collaborators. The two set out to accomplish an advanced home design, featuring faucet-less sinks that automatically filled with water, a dining table with a hydraulic pedestal that lowered for cocktails and elevated for meals, a system for heating and cooling that could not be seen or heard (Reiner wanted to feel only the ambient temperatures rise or fall), controls for lights and appliances that were discreetly set into walls and doors jambs, lights that pivot into the ceiling, and electrically-controlled skylights.
Lautner built such novel innovations into the home specifically according to Reiner’s specifications; in the event that the equipment didn’t exist to meet those specifications, Reiner would design, engineer, and manufacturer the necessary parts in his own factory for Lautner.
The two men brought in master structural engineer, Eugene Birnbaum to execute the challenging build with a cantilevered driveway up to the residence and a massive concrete domed ceiling over walls of glass that are slotted into concrete. The City of Los Angeles’ building codes couldn’t keep up with Lautner and Reiner, and the city denied permits for the cantilevered drive… until both men created irrefutable engineering plans and constructed a demonstration project.
The home was originally budgeted at $75,000, but rose to $1,000,000 after many refinements of the design throughout its build. Unfortunately, Reiner never lived in his wondrous home. Due to a lawsuit with his business partner and a divorce, Reiner filed bankruptcy and lost the nearly finished house. The project then sat for several years, while Reiner moved to Long Beach. Associates said the pragmatic Reiner never looked back with regret.
Dr. Philip and Jacklyn Burchill bought the home in 1974. The Burchill’s turned to Lautner to complete the home. The Reiner-Burchill Residence was finally realized in 1976, when the Burchill’s became live-in stewards of the architectural phenomenon until 2014. Mrs. Burchill has decided to sell the home she has maintained with stewardship toward authenticity for 40 years.
The Reiner-Burchill Residence is located at 2138 Micheltorena St in the Moreno Highlands area of Silver Lake and is being offered for $7,500,000.
The 3 bedroom and 4 bathroom design of the main house is made up of a series of interlocking circles, half-circles and ellipsis, creating geometric pattern for which Lautner was known. The infinity pool, a first of its kind, mimics the shape of the roof line. With a massive, arched concrete roof over the living area, the spacious 4,721 of interior living space with floor-to-ceiling glass walls, in proportion to the site on which it is built. “Silvertop” situates on 1.26 acres, comprised of six lots, on the crest of a hill. The home is approached by vehicle up one side of the hill and is exited down the other side of the hill via the cantilevered curved concrete driveway that wraps around a circular guest house, called the Round House, which contains a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and a photography darkroom.
The home consists of three general areas including the living area, sleeping quarters and guest house. From the entry, one passes through an atrium filled with plants and before entering into the expansive light-filled open living space. The sleeping quarters are located somewhat perpendicular to the living area as it bows away from the central living area.