Lair: Radical Homes and Hideouts of Movie Villains By Chad Oppenheim / Andrea Gollin Tra Publishing $75.00 Bad people don't always have good taste, but when they do, their homes are the stuff of architecture history. Curzio Malaparte was attending fascist rallies in between stays at his cliffside retreat, the various owners of Lloyd Wright's Sowden House committed unspeakable crimes behind its stony facade, and Philip Johnson's sordid past all but eclipses his career as one of the most accomplished architects of the 20th century. While most of us may not be able to tour the homes of these baddies or live in anything remotely like them ourselves, the homes of movie villains are at our disposal however many times we wish to visit them. Chad Oppenheim of Miami-based Oppenheim Architecture and writer Andrea Gollin have come together to shine a spotlight on the homes of the silver screen that lurk in the shadows to draw an undeniable connection between low morale and high design. Their book, Lair: Radical Homes and Hideouts of Movie Villains, pries open 15 of the most diabolical abodes and renders them in silk-silver linework over depthless black paper, all of which were exquisitely illustrated by Carlos Fueyo, a VFX and CG supervisor behind some of the most visually sumptuous blockbusters of the last decade. Lair makes evident that the average movie's art production team is at its most creative when given the opportunity to imagine homes as sinister and calculated as the villains that would commission them with dark money. An eye-opening interview between Oppenheim and Star Wars set decorator Roger Christian uncovers the inspiration behind the Death Star, arguably the most famous evil lair in cinema, albeit one that doubles as a weapon capable of obliterating planets many times its size. "When it came to the Death Star," Christian explained, "that was inspired by the Reich architecture of Albert Speer, obviously. When you look at Nazi architecture, it's very black with red on it. Very simple and very daunting—and strangely beautiful." Fueyo's illustrations render the highly articulate surface of the Death Star with all the wonderfully arbitrary detailing of the original and managed to produce a perspective cutaway that offers a glimpse into the orderly, clock-like work of its scaleless interior. The divergent paths of the light and dark sides of the force are as apparent in the contrasting austerity between the Empire's home base and the humble desert residences of the Jedi as they are in any of the other cinematic choices made in the production of the blockbuster film series. About a third of the 15 lairs are owned by various Bond villains, from Ernst Stavro Blofeld's sub-volcanic hideaway in You Only Live Twice (1967) to Karl Stromberg's spider-like marine research laboratory in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). While Bond trots around the world as a stylish nomad, his enemies stay put in increasingly eccentric abodes that speak to their character just as effectively as their words or actions. The sensuous architecture of Los Angeles-architect John Lautner makes more than a few cameos and is otherwise the unsubtle inspiration for a number of the evil lairs throughout the movie series. A rarely-seen interview between Lautner and Marlene Laskey on the Elrod House, a home the architect designed in 1968 that was extensively featured in Diamonds are Forever (1971), reveals that the home was built with surprisingly few restraints, thus imbuing the structure with a number of eccentricities suited to the fictional supervillain Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Good design often comes at a price, either through its exchange with one's soul or a sum of money that no one person should reasonably have. While real-life crooks reveal little of themselves to the public by trade, the homes featured in Lair grants its readers a more-than-generous look into the lives lived by a fictional class of villains.
Posts tagged with "John Lautner":
Set among the winding hillside streets overlooking West Hollywood's Sunset Strip is the Wolff Residence, a striking home designed in 1961 by the great mid-century architect John Lautner. Named after interior designer Marco Wolff, the home's original owner, it was designated a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 2006 and has now been listed for $6.5 by George Salazar and Tilsia Acosta of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties. "This is a jewel," said Salazar. "Anyone who comes to see it is blown away." The manner in which the Wolff Residence is dramatically sited against a near-vertical slope is reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water, Lautner's first mentor when he arrived in Los Angeles. With less than a quarter-acre of land to call its own, the primarily stone-and-glass home divides 1,664 square feet across three floors, while leaving plenty of room for the architect's signature flourishes. A dining room, updated kitchen and an airy living room with 16-foot-tall windows make up the home's top floor, which includes a stone fireplace, a fully-grown eucalyptus tree within an interior courtyard, and plenty of built-in copper seating areas that extend to an outdoor terrace. From this floor, a medievalesque staircase leads to the master bedroom suite, which is nearly divided in half between interior space and an outdoor terrace with panoramic views. On the bottom floor is a sun deck and a swimming pool that cantilevers over the street to extend beyond the home's roofline. In 1970, the client hired Lautner architect a second time to build a guest home on the West side of the property, effectively turning the one-bedroom bachelor pad into a four-bedroom family home. Though the architect's similarly-designed Foster House was recently purchased after sitting on the market for less than half a year, the inflated price tag and unusual spatial layout of the Wolff Residence may prove to be a difficult sell.
Homes designed by the Frank Lloyd Wright-tutored West Coast architect John Lautner don’t usually stay on the market for long. Their seductive layouts, extravagant material palettes, and sweeping views have historically made them the subjects of bidding wars and ownerships lasting more than one lifetime. One of the architect’s homes, however, has been on the market for nearly three months and has even been subject to a price reduction. The Foster House, Lautner’s smallest home at a modest 1,016 square feet, is currently on sale for the first time since it was constructed for a schoolteacher in 1950. The home sits on a sharp corner in the quiet suburb of Sherman Oaks, California, a far cry from the trendy hills of Silver Lake where the majority of the architect’s work can be found. The features of the modest home can easily be listed in full: the ground floor is an open-air carport and features an unprogrammed room with an adjoining bathroom and a sloped lawn shaded by eucalyptus trees, while the second floor contains an updated kitchen with a foldaway table, a bedroom, a bathroom, a closet, a main room, and a balcony separated by a wall of glass. With its roots in the treehouse building type, the Foster House will likely find an owner (or owners, if they are petite) more interested in novelty than pragmatism. While it may be impractically small for some, the radial redwood-beamed ceiling and loads of built-in furniture pieces make it as charming as any other home the architect has designed. The Foster House is currently on sale for $1.45 million after first being put on the market in June for $1.6 million.
In 2013, Bestor Architecture, interior designer Jamie Bush + Co., and landscape architects Studio-MLA were tapped to restore and complete the Silvertop Residence, a domed, cave-like home designed by John Lautner in 1956 for industrialist-inventor Kenneth Reiner. “Big chunks of the house weren’t finished,” Barbara Bestor of Bestor Architecture explained as she described the ad hoc kitchen and bathroom spaces she initially found in the home. “But we tried to bring a 21st-century idea of what progressive architecture might be in this context.” The Los Angeles home represents Lautner’s own attempts to create a progressive architectural vision for domestic life and includes his first spanning concrete shell structure as well as movable glass walls and interior finishes that can conveniently snap off for maintenance and replacement. Within a T-shaped composition of intersecting semicircles in plan, the home is divided into sleeping, kitchen, and living zones that frame opposing outdoor spaces, including a pool patio and a tree-filled courtyard. Bestor explained that Lautner and Reiner had infused the home with a spirit of material inventiveness that included Portuguese cork ceiling tiles, thin-shell concrete finishes, and other factory-produced elements. It was an ethos that Bestor sought to channel, but rather than imposing a new order on the home, her restoration is instead geared toward reviving and perfecting many of Lautner’s original ideas. For example, the architect replaced rudimentary mechanical systems for a movable window wall with a state-of-the-art motorized pulley concealed by scalloped concrete edging and an upturned swoop of terrazzo flooring. She also perfected the home’s master bathroom through the addition of a fully retractable 20-ton glass partition that disappears into the floor. Coupled with a disappearing skylight system, the shower is now a completely outdoor experience that is more true to the original intent for the space than 1950s-era technology allowed. Bestor’s hand also worked silently below the floors and within the walls of the house, where transformative HVAC, digital, lighting, and sound systems were added. In the master bedroom, an original moonroof above the bed has been redesigned to completely disappear. Fully concealed by dummy ceiling panels when closed, the opening is one of several precisely designed and exactly located operable windows around the house. The home’s kitchen received some of the most dramatic transformations of the project. Tucked into a low block between the entry and the space-age living room, the new kitchen is wrapped in vertical bands of thin cypress slats and is lit from above by square-shaped skylights. Glimmering stainless appliances designed by Ilan Dei Studio fill out the space, while overhead, restored and original pieces of cork ceiling intermingle and conceal technological equipment. The stealthy and informed approach, according to Bestor, allowed her team to “think aloud through forms and ideas” in a way that mirrored Lautner’s original work while still remaining respectful to those designs. Today, the home lives on as it was always meant to: completed, occupied, and at least for now, technologically up-to-date.
Bette Jane Cohen, director, producer, and editor of the 1990 film The Spirit in Architecture: John Lautner, passed away on October 19, 2016, after a long illness. She was 62. Cohen’s work as a filmmaker and editor is widely regarded in architecture circles, with her work on Lautner’s architecture holding high prominence for its impact on the late architect’s nearly forgotten career. The film, produced during a nadir for the groundbreaking designer’s work, brought renewed attention and interest to Southern California’s midcentury modernist heritage years before appreciation for the era’s architectural works would begin to take off in earnest. Last year, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art acquired Lautner’s Sheats-Goldstein Residence as a part of its permanent collection. Cohen’s documentary showcases the only instances of filmed interviews with the architect. Cohen had recently been traveling the world in support of an updated 25th anniver25th-anniversarythe film. Writing in 2001 for the John Lautner Foundation about her experience making the film, Cohen remarked on the sheer novelty of her focus on Lautner’s work, saying, “At the time I made the film, no books had been written on Lautner.” In the essay, Cohen recalls how she did not know Lautner when she started work on the film and had not yet asked permission to use his work in the movie, saying, “I went into Lautner's office with my proposal and introduced myself. I had never made a film before but I had been a film editor on many films. He said, ‘Well it seems like a worthwhile project and you seem tall enough to do it!’ That is how we started working together.” Cohen went on to, among other accomplishments, eventually serve as a founding member of the John Lautner Foundation Advisory Board. Services for Cohen were held Friday, October 21, 2016, at the Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary in Los Angeles.
James Goldstein has donated his landmark house, located on Angelo View Drive, Los Angeles, and designed by prolific West Coast architect John Lautner to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). In addition, the dwellings contents and surrounding estate has also been included in the donation. In Pop-Culture, the house is most widely recognized for its appearance in the film The Big Lebowski. The dwelling commonly known as the Sheats Goldstein Residence includes an "infinity tennis court" (best not to hit it out of bounds), a James Turrell Skyspace, entertainment complex, and an extensive array of landscaped tropical gardens. Included as part of the contents of the house will be architectural models of the house, artistic works, and a 1961 Rolls Royce (pictured below). "Over the course of many meetings with Michael Govan, I was very impressed with his appreciation for the history of the house and the role it has played in the cultural life of Los Angeles, as well as with his vision for continuing that tradition when the house becomes an important part of LACMA's collections," Goldstein said. "Hopefully, my gift will serve as a catalyst to encourage others to do the same to preserve and keep alive Los Angeles’s architectural gems for future generations.” https://vimeo.com/30456390 "Great architecture is as powerful an inspiration as any artwork, and LACMA is honored to care for, maintain, and preserve this house, as well as to enhance access to this great resource for architecture students, scholars, and the public," said LACMA CEO Michael Govan in a press release. "We are excited to collaborate with other arts institutions on events that speak to Jim’s interests and that connect and reach across creative disciplines—architecture, film, fashion, and art." The residence represents the unique relationship Goldstein and Lautner shared for more than three decades. Originally constructed in 1963 for Helen and Paul Sheats, Goldstein purchased the house in 1972 and began working closely with Lautner in 1979. Together they modified the house "according to Lautner’s and Goldstein’s ultimate vision," replacing all the glass to amplify the disparity between indoor and outdoor space. Other alterations saw the introduction of bespoke minimalist concrete seating (the seats we see "The Dude" aka Jeff Bridges sit on in The Big Lebowski), as well as glass and wood furnishings. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShUhcBroF5Y The James Turrell Skyspace, named Above Horizon was added in 2004 and rises above the property's tropical gardens. Above Horizon also links to other works by Turrell in the LACMA domain, such as Ganzfeld Breathing Light, and the Perceptual Cell Light Reignfall.
Los Angeles lost an important figure in the architecture and preservation community last week. News reached AN of the passing of Karol Lautner Peterson, president of The John Lautner Foundation, which plans to host a memorial celebration in the Los Angeles area. The organization shared the following remembrance: Karol Lautner Peterson died early in the morning of August 25, 2015, in her home. She was surrounded by close, loving family members. Karol, the eldest daughter of John Lautner, was the president of The John Lautner Foundation as well as a former member of several boards and commissions in Marquette, Michigan. She was a lifetime advocate for the work of John Lautner and worked tirelessly to preserve it and to educate others about it. At the time of her death, Karol was working, along with the rest of the board of directors, with two Cal Poly Pomona professors to help list several Lautner buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. She was also studying methods for creating endowment funds in hopes of creating one that will fund the Foundation over many years, and helping develop a preservation fund. She was instrumental in developing the year-long celebration of John Lautner’s 100th birthday in 2011. One of her prime achievements as head of the Foundation was the transfer of the John Lautner archive to the Getty, where it will be protected and preserved for generations to come. She was always celebrating the work of John Lautner in one way or another. Aside from being a tireless worker for architecture, Karol was a loving mother of two, wife of many years to Bruce Peterson, oldest of seven children of her mother, enthusiastic volunteer at the DeVos Museum of Art (Marquette), preservationist of family history, and loving friend to more people than can be counted. She was always busy, and loved to relax by kayaking in Lake Superior. For 22 years she joined the walk across the Mackinac Bridge on Labor Day.
Sad news for California architecture. Los Angeles architect Duncan Nicholson, known for ambitious residential work like a multi-use addition to John Lautner's Sheats Goldstein House, passed away last week after a battle with cancer. A statement from his firm, Nicholson Architects, is a beautiful tribute to Nicholson's creativity and his ability to inspire those around him. "It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our founding principal, mentor, and friend, Duncan Nicholson, who succumbed to his brief battle with cancer earlier this week (Jan 20). He was a man of simple truths and timeless beauty, two rare things in this world." "There is one fundamental idea that he tried to teach us, in both word and deed, and that is the power of the individual imagination to create a world that is at once unique, profound, and useful. He did not fear the word 'perfect' nor did he falter in his pursuit of that ideal. It is a heavy honor to carry on in his absence, and we will strive to do his legacy justice moving forward. Thank you to everyone who has expressed kind words of support. We are grateful and it is a comfort to know that others have shared in the love that we have for him.”
According to the Los Angeles Conservancy, yet another John Lautner building is in imminent danger. This time it's the architect's Crippled Children's Society Rehabilitation Center, now known as the AbilityFirst Paul Weston Work Center, in Woodland Hills. Current owner AbilityFirst and Oakmont Senior Living, the potential buyer, submitted for a demolition and new construction permit in February, hoping to build a new Eldercare facility on the site, and the project was presented at a city Zoning Administration public hearing this week. At the meeting the Conservancy stressed that the structure was identified through the city’s SurveyLA survey process in 2013 as eligible for listing in both the California Register and as a local Los Angeles landmark. But it was not identified by LA City Planning as a historic resource in the project’s environmental review. In a letter to LA City Planning the Conservancy said the review's conclusion that the new building will have "no impact" was based on "flawed analysis," and called for the city to reject its findings. The building, designed in 1979, was built on a unique circular, pie-shaped plan, with wings radiating from a central office. The conservancy is trying to stop it from joining Lautner's Shusett House (below) in Beverly Hills, which was torn down in 2010. The Conservancy is asking people to write to LA City planning about the building by Tuesday.
Yesterday, AN reported on the incredible new entertainment complex that millionaire James Goldstein is building next to John Lautner's Sheats Goldstein Residence in Beverly Hills. But even without an adjacent nightclub, the house often hosts splashy events, the most recent of which was the latest art/architecture installation that's part of artist Xavier Veilhan's Architectones series. As he did at Richard Neutra's VDL House and Pierre Koenig's Case Study House 21, Veilhan created several site specific installations for the site, ranging from a life size statue of John Lautner to a series of cords stretching over the home's pool. The project was curated by architect Francois Perrin and organized by Galerie Perrotin.