The Chemosphere House and 6 other striking John Lautner-designed homes

American architect John Lautner left a permanent mark on Southern California architecture and is seen as one of the most innovative and visionary architects of the 20th century.

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Lautner is best remembered for his spaceship-like, concrete rooftop houses that look like they've been plucked out of a sci-fi Hollywood movie.

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He’s regarded as one of the main contributors to the Googie architecture style and has developed various Atomic Age houses in the 1950s and 1960s, some of which we’ll take a look at today.

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John Lautner-designed homes that break the mold



The Chemosphere house

If you aren’t familiar with any of John Lautner’s works, then The Chemosphere house — also known as the Marlin House — is the best place to begin your journey.

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Built in 1960 on the hillside just off Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles, the Chemosphere House sits on a steep, sloping lot, and looks like a flying, hovering saucer.

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With its unique octagonal design reminiscent of The Jetsons,  Encyclopedia Britannica once named The Chemosphere ‘the most modern home in the world.’

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With its striking and unique design, The Chemosphere appeared in several movies and TV shows, including Brian De Palma’s Body Double, Charlie’s Angels (2000), and Tomorrowland.

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The Sheats-Goldstein Residence

The Sheats-Goldstein Residence, owned by the eclectic and elusive James Goldstein, is another John Lautner stunner.

Built in 1963 in the Beverly Crest neighborhood of Los Angeles, the house is a fine example of Lautner’s ability to blend in man-made structures with nature.

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The house was built into the sandstone ledge of a hill, offering majestic views of downtown L.A. and the Pacific Ocean – and a great backdrop for Hollywood parties.

Photo credit: Grueslayer, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons



The Elrod House

The Elrod House, located in Palm Springs and built in 1968, is another great example of John Lautner’s organic architecture.

Coincidence or not, this house is also located on the edge of a hill, and is one of Lautner’s many works in the area. It was commissioned by Arthur Elrod, who also served as interior designer on the project.

Photo credit: John Nelson and Cat Moe / The Nelson-Moe Group

Construction on the Elrod House involved excavating part of the hillside, but Lautner decided to keep the rocks in place and use them for the interior.

Photo credit: John Nelson and Cat Moe / The Nelson-Moe Group

Of course, like all other John Lautner homes, the Elrod House is a movie star in its own right. It was featured as Willard Whyte’s mansion in the 1971 James Bond movie Diamonds Are Forever.



Bob Hope's UFO-like home

Lautner was a genius at working with concrete, and most of its houses feature unusual, curving, floating-style rooftops made of concrete. The Hope Residence is no exception.

Located in Palm Springs, the 23,000-square-foot property was the home of Bob Hope  (recognized as  the most popular entertainer of the 20th century) and his family for more than three decades.

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When comedian Bob Hope first saw the house, he reportedly said ‘Well, at least when they come down from Mars they’ll know where to go.’

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John Lautner's Garcia House, featured in the blockbuster movie Lethal Weapon 2 Photo credit: Roger Davies