John Lautner’s Jacobsen House, 1948

A few years ago, the John Lautner Foundation put on a really great tour of several Lautner homes, as part of the centennial celebration of his birth. I went on the tour and wrote up a few of those, but not all of them, on my old blog, Creatures of Prometheus. As part of our Building of the Week series, I thought I’d resurrect some of those old posts, and eventually write up the others here at Parson Architecture: The Blog. I fail to see how anyone could get too much Lautner!


The Jacobsen is on Multiview Drive, just below Mulholland Drive, overlooking the San Fernando Valley above Studio City and Universal City.  Multiview is a pretty good street for architecture; Schindler’s wonderful Kallis House, with its butterfly roof and quirky stone fireplaces, is nearby on the same side of the street.

This is an early-career project for Lautner, dating from 1947.  According to Wikipedia, he had left Frank Lloyd Wright’s employment and gone off on his own by that time, although he did not finally obtain his own architecture license until 1952.

So, this house is the work of an unlicensed individual who would have found himself in violation of California law had he have claimed to have been an architect. Ahem. Don’t get me started.

The other houses on the tour were better concealed from the road; this house reveals itself pretty directly to you as you walk up the driveway:

John Lautner Jacobsen House - Parson Architecture: The Blog

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Breaking Ground on the Sarasota House

We’re thrilled to announce that this week the contractor broke ground on the new home we’ve been working on for a site just outside Sarasota. The house is about 6,500 square feet, and it sits on a previously undeveloped five acre site outside of town.

Building on such a large, undeveloped site is no small task! The first step is to build the driveway so the trucks and construction equipment can access the area where the house will be, at the back of the five acres.

Parson Architecture Sarasota Groundbreaking
Crews begin digging to install the culvert at the road, for the new driveway.

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Theme and Variation: Manny’s Auto Repair

If you’ve ever driven back and forth on the 5 freeway between L.A. and Orange County, you’ve driven right past one of my favorite buildings and probably not even realized it. There are a lot of really interesting buildings in SoCal by unknown or forgotten architects, and a lot of interesting buildings that probably got built without an architect’s involvement at all. Of the latter group, Manny’s Auto Repair, at 4849 Telegraph Road, is near the top of my list.

If you’re driving south, watch the road to your left just after the 710 interchange. Northbound drivers should keep an eye out to the right as you come away from the Citadel Outlets. You’ll probably be going pretty slow anyway, and it shouldn’t be that hard to spot. Look for the glorious-but-slightly-faded red-orange building with MANNY’S AUTO REPAIR emblazoned across the top in big block letters. (Click the images to embiggen and open in a new window.)

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Manny’s Auto Repair

What makes this building so great? Two things.

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The Mod Musical Mosaics of Cypress Hall

A few times a season, my sweetie and I like to hear a classical music performance at the Valley Performing Arts Center at Cal State Northridge. When we do, one of my favorite parts of the evening is to visit the wonderful mosaics of musicians playing different instruments that line the wall of Cypress Hall next door. As we walk along the sidewalk that takes us from parking to the music hall, I feel like I’m visiting old friends when we pass by the mosaics, and it always adds to my generally-already-upbeat pre-concert mood.

Take a moment to look at them carefully yourself, and see what you observe about them. Then read my comments at the end. (The titles in the captions are my made-up interpretations.) If you want to get the overall picture first, check it out here on Google street view. The link should open in a new tab and go straight to the view of the wall with the mosaics.

Here are all eight, as they appear left to right, individually and close-up. Click any of them to open the image larger in a new tab.

Mosaic #1.
Mosaic #1: The Aulete

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Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House Reopens

After being closed for some time for renovations & restoration, Frank Lloyd Wright’s epic Hollyhock House is open again to the public. The other week they had a special grand re-opening event where the house was open to the public for free, all night. Naturally, I had to go!

There were throngs and throngs of people who turned out, and it was very exciting to me that standing in line to see great architecture could be such a popular event for a Friday night in Los Angeles. Angelenos love architecture, and their enthusiasm was on display that night. The downside was that the event’s organizers were, by their own admission, unprepared for, and overwhelmed by, the huge turnout. It kind of leaves one to wonder what they did expect, but that’s a discussion for another time and place. The house looked great, and that’s really the main thing.

So, without further ado, here’s what I saw. For reference, here is a floor plan with the area open to the public for the event colored in red. North is to the left in this plan. Click any image to open full-size in a new tab.

Hollyhock House Plan

 

Hollyhock House Living Room
Looking into the Living Room from the Loggia.

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A Day Sketching at the Salk Institute

I have been wanting to get out more, and spend time sketching some of the wonderful architectural treasures I have the luxury of living near.  A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to spend a whole day at the Salk Institute in La Jolla with just my sketchbook and pencil.  Yes I took my camera too, and took some photos, but the point of spending my day there was to exercise my visual faculty in the slow, deliberative way that only freehand drawing brings.

Drawing forces you to study your subject, contemplate it, analyze its proportions.  You make decisions about what is important and what isn’t.  You essentialize it — that is, you reduce it to its essence.

I started with some small, quick studies (click to embiggen).

Parson Architecture Salk Institute Sketch
A small thumbnail sketch of about 30 minutes.

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