Tag Archives: john lautner

Reiner-Burchill Residence — SILVERTOP — Lautner’s Domestic Spaceship for Modern Terrestrials

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Kenrick Kellogg’s High Desert House: The Most Important Architectural House You’ve Likely Never Seen

Organic Architecture As Otherworldly Art

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Located just outside Palm Springs, the 10-acre Doolittle estate is a rare study of organic architecture, offering a unique peek into the creative partnership between its artistic owners and the architect, Kendrick Bangs Kellogg. It’s now on the market for the first time priced at $3 million.

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The Doolittle home — made of concrete, steel, glass and copper overlays — sits on an irregular slope, nestled up against the hillside. Its foundation, jackhammered into the granite bedrock, is heavy anchored concrete slab. A shield to the harsh outdoors, form-molded concrete walls envelop the 4,643-square-foot home like a cocoon. Twenty-six columns prop up rooflines that fan out like wings. With the San Andreas Fault a short 15 miles away, the structure is reinforced 30 percent beyond California’s highest earthquake standards.

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With finishing details in metal, glass and native stone, the structure is a symphony of textures that, combined with the natural light admitted by irregular clerestories, creates the drama of a cathedral.

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“It looks like it’s growing out of its environment, like it grew out, mushroom-like,” Menrad said. “It doesn’t disturb the land at all. … It’s part of the landscape, and it’s its home.”

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Like the famed architect John Lautner, Kellogg had made a name for himself in organic architecture from the Yen House near San Diego to the Hoshino Wedding Chapel in Japan. Unlike the clean angles of midcentury homes, his designs are rounded, with the look of molded clay.

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Bev Doolittle had made a successful career selling paintings of Native American life and snow-flecked landscapes. Jay Doolittle worked as an art agent for his wife. The couple sought an artist architect and eventually tracked Kellogg down from the California Architects Board. They sent him a hand-written letter and photos of their property.

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“If you like their work, you let them do it,” said Bev Doolittle, 66. “I didn’t want to hire someone and look over their shoulder.”

“The real work of art is when you put the plans aside and it comes from your gut; that’s what you do on a good piece of art,” said Kellogg.

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The home’s otherworldly and museum-quality interior woodwork and metal fixtures were crafted by artist and metalworker John Voggeren, with much of it conceived and fabricated on-site. Sculpted and formed doors, latches, sinks and toilets became objets d’art in their own right. Says Kellogg. “Most people wouldn’t have gone in the way-out directions we went, but the owners almost never stopped us.”

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Design began in 1988, and construction began soon afterward. The main structure was finished in 1993. But interior work and tweaks to the doors and windows of the home took the next few years, while the Doolittles lived in a nearby 1,500-square-foot ordinary stucco home. They didn’t fully move in until the early 2000s.

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The Doolittles eventually decided to downsize, to live a simpler life. After living in the home for 11 years, they were getting too old for the stairways and rock floors. “It’s really hard to walk away from that. It’s very emotional,” Bev Doolittle said.

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I don’t know how long the link will last, but following is the sales video of this magnificent home:

The Dan Stevens Malibu Residence — A John Lautner Oceanside Modernist Miracle

Inspired by the ocean it faces, maverick modernist architect architect John Lautner created the Dan Stevens’ house with its curved shell to resemble a wave, while the interior structure evokes a nautical, boat-like ambience in each room.

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Stevens House, Colony Drive
Architect: John Lautner – 1968
Location: Malibu, CA

Lautner’s 1968 Stevens Residence in Malibu California is built upon concrete and situated surrounded by sand with views of the ocean and Santa Monica Mountains. The Stevens house was the first house that Lautner built in Malibu and defined the types of houses to be built thereafter.

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Dan Stevens interviewed a number of famous architects to design a 5 bedroom 5 bathroom house with a pool on a 90′ X 37′ lot. Each of them said it was impossible. So, He called John Lautner.

Lautner accomplished all of Stevens’ requirements by designing a structure utilizing 14 I-steel beams that in turn support two half catenary curves in reverse positions to become concrete wall, roof, and ceiling… in one. The house unifies sculpture with architecture and resembles two waves on the exterior. The interior of the house is composed of concrete with cedar planking throughout. The house also utilizes giant custom glass and douglas fir sliding doors that open completely to bring the ocean air directly into the house.

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Reverence for Lautner and the Stevens House resulted in a restoration bridging the past to the present. The restoration included carefully selecting and replacing all cedar planking, restoring concrete that had been painted, bringing back the originally designed but never fully implemented lofts for each of the kids rooms, recreating the original tile, as well as enhancing the house’s sustainability by utilizing cork flooring and converting the house to solar energy. Lautner’s intent was to create a low maintenance and well-built house. In an effort to maintain the Stevens House’s integrity, California Historic Cultural Landmark status was granted in 2010.

If it’s your taste — as it is mine — the home went on market for $22 million in 2013. Now where did I stick that 22 mill?…

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Bob Hope Residence, Palm Springs — A John Lautner Masterpiece (Revisited)

In March last year, I posted about Bob Hope’s huge and famous hill-top house located in Palm Springs Southridge mountain area, overlooking Palm Springs. The Hopes were known for their lavish parties with hundreds of attendees, but even so, they never allowed interior photos to be published, as this was their private enclave.

Hope’s daughter is now liquidating the estate, and this nearly 18,000 sq ft (add nearly 5k more sq ft for terraces and outdoor living space) John Lautner-designed Bob and Dolores Hope Residence (1973) went on market for sale… at $50 million… and was recently reduced in price to $34 million.

As part of the selling process, a few shots of the interior were published in the informational brochure. So, now we get to see just a bit…

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Bob Hope Residence, Palm Springs — A John Lautner Massive Masterpiece

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Bob Hope’s huge and famous hill-top house is located in Palm Springs Southridge mountain area, overlooking Palm Springs. The nearly 18,000 sq ft (add nearly 5k more sq ft for terraces and outdoor living space) John Lautner-designed Bob and Dolores Hope Residence (1973) — situated close to the also Lautner-designed Elrod Residence in Palm Springs — features a massive undulating triangular roof, pierced by a large circular central light shaft, six bedrooms and 12 bathrooms.

See interior photos here.


Mr. Hope died in 2003 at the age of 100; Mrs. Hope died in 2011 at 102. Thus, Hope’s architectural treasure was placed on the market in late February 2013 for $50 million.

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In addition to the bedrooms and numerous bathrooms, plus the spacious living and dining rooms, the massive residence also features a spa, which houses a pool, a hot tub and an exercise area. Outdoor spaces include a pool, pond, tennis court, putting green, and outdoor terrace with massive fireplace. The modernist structure is built of concrete and glass, with an undulating copper roof that rises to an open circle at its center.

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The original ’73 house was destroyed by fire during construction. Bob and Dolores Hope interfered extensively in the second design, with the result that Lautner eventually distanced himself from the project. Although not well-known and rarely available for public viewing (this modern masterpiece is located within a gated community) it is one of the largest and most visually striking of Lautner’s domestic designs. The estate dominates a corner lot with sweeping views of the entire Coachella Valley. No pictures of the home’s interior have ever been published since the Hopes moved in (1979).

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The home was used primarily as a second residence for the Hope family and was the place where they entertained most often, inviting friends such as Tony Bennett and Glen Campbell to enjoy the views from the house. It can accommodate as many as 300 guests for dinner under an enormous covered terrace.

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Each January for many years, the family threw a huge dinner party to mark the end of the Bob Hope Classic golf tournament, now called the Humana Challenge. “That was sort of a highlight of the desert social calendar,” said Linda Hope, a daughter of the couple.

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A big buffet would be laid out on the terraced patio, including Mrs. Hope’s famous antipasto salad, which she insisted on mixing herself, adding the vinegar and oil by eye. A clear tent was put up on part of the terrace to keep out the cold while still allowing guests to take in the spectacular nighttime view. “The whole desert was at your feet,” Linda Hope said.

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Lautner’s Architectural Plan For The Hope Residence

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The Hope Estate – Toluca Lake

In addition to their desert getaway the Hope’s also maintained a five-plus acre spread in the Toluca Lake area of Los Angeles with a 14,876 square foot main house and several additional outbuildings joined by various driveways and parking areas.

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Between Heaven & Earth — Arango-Marbrisa House By John Lautner

“Lautner’s dwellings took on dramatically new and varied shapes, as he moved toward the central theme of his career — how to use architecture to sublimate the domestic, and to domesticate the sublime,” states Nicholas Olsberg.

John Lautner Arango House / Casa Marbrisa: a modern visionary house! The design of John Lautner’s Arango House is inspired by the natural features of the site, the sense of space, ocean and sky.

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Credit many of these photos: Jan-Richard Kikkert

This 1973 icon of mid-century modern, organic architecture is located in Acapulco Mexico and boasts a floor space of 25,000.00 square feet. The house perches on a very steep site overlooking Acapulco Bay. The upper floor, serving as the main living and entertainment area, composes a large open terrace surrounded by a cantilevered moat/railing pool, wide and deep enough to allow for swimming, that seems to overflow into the ocean below, inspiring a feeling of infinite space.

The curved, sloping concrete roof anchors into the hill at one end, then sweeps over the house and the driveway and returns to the hill at the opposite end. The roof rides low on the hill side and high on the Bay side, allowing an encompassing view of the sky and the ocean. The enclosed family room and bedrooms situated on the lower floor, facing the bay, provide elevated landscape with a continuous planter-railing along the edge of the decks.

“When I first visited the site,” says Lautner, “I got the idea to build a large, open terrace so that all you had was the beauty of the Acapulco Bay and the sky and the mountains. You don’t feel you’re in a building at all. You’re out in space. With the beauty of nature.”

Just viewing the house inspires. The curved lines provide the house a fluid feel, like the water that runs along the edges of the terrace or the clouds that embrace it, yet the dominant impression is one of boldness.

This house is the rarest of residencies: a house that is of itself, the environment, and the world expanding beyond… a house with few precursors and few progeny — a house with integrity. And therein lies its boldness, its originality, and its beauty.

My first thought upon seeing it was, “I want my life to be like that.” Bold and fluid. Calm and inspiring. It is a house of means above most and elevated physically above, while open and embracing. The building has a clear purpose, and every part of it works towards that end — without exception, without shame.

The Arango House is more than just an artistic cure for a feeling of aimlessness or of ordinary existence. It is at once both a relaxant and a stimulant — a work of art that not only compels relaxation of mind and spirit but also inspires to live with more passion and to pursue creatively with zeal.